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What to wear?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:01 pm
by Kelly Ann
In my experience, biotech companies are fairly laid back in their dress codes (my theory is they don't want to spill chemicals on clothing). So, how does a graduate student (going from wearing jeans and t-shirts) gauge what to wear to an interview?

Is there such a thing as being over-dressed (by wearing a suit as one would do to a business interview)? Is it appropriate to ask the HR contact how casual the companies dress code is?

I know this may seem like an odd question but everybody talks about how important it is to sell yourself well in an interview ... and I think clothing can play an important (although unconscience) role in distinguishing two equally qualified candidates.

I have my own ideas about what is appropriate but I thought I would ask everybody on this forum what they think.

What to wear?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 9:50 pm
by Ken
I was in your position not so long ago. The short of it, I would say you can't go wrong wearing a suit. You will likely be better dressed than anyone interviewing you, many of whom will be in jeans, but it's much better to dress a step up than a step down.

I wore a suit, and didn't feel uncomfortable about it.

What to wear?

PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:33 pm
by Dave Jensen
I asked a fellow in a company that is typically jeans and a lab coat, how they felt about people coming in with dockers and polo shirts for interviews.

"Hey, I had to wear a suit to the interview, and when I see someone trying to get away without it, I wonder what they are trying to prove."

There's a simple answer to your question, Kelly Ann, and Ken had it right. You'll never, ever find someone thinking that you are wrong for wearing a business suit to an interview. Any other style of clothing and you may have people wondering what it says about you,

Dave

What to wear?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:28 am
by Val
> In my experience, biotech companies are fairly laid back in their dress codes
> (my theory is they don't want to spill chemicals on clothing).

All people told me to reject the offer of a tea/coffee at the interview. Indeed, in all cases where I took the offered tea, I was unsuccessful. I could not understand how accepting the tea offer could affect my chances at getting the job. Someone gave me an explanation: "You can spill tea onto your white shirt". I still did not get it, but I bought it.

Regards,
Val

What to wear?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:52 am
by Don
Yes, most biotechs are casual (as are most labs). But for an interview, wear a suit.

D

What to wear?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:04 am
by Emil Chuck
I'd say wear a suit for these reasons:

I know when I do interviews (of high school kids for competition), I don't encourage or discourage kids from wearing a suit or dressing up. But without a doubt, I do find myself grading those kids with proper suits in my interviews better because their non-visual language exudes more confidence and focus.

What to wear?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:23 am
by Chris
I was in your position a year ago- right out of my Ph.D. and interviewing for both academic postdocs as well as biotech jobs. For the biotech job I wore a suit and it felt quite appropriat during the interview. For the academic postdoc interviews, I wore pants and a nice shirt.

What to wear?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 12:52 pm
by A. Sam
I wore a suit to my last biotech interview and was almost laughed out of the building. They affectionately started referring to me as "the funeral director". I did get the job though, it helped to build rapport. Bottom line: you can easily get away with being overdressed but you'll never get away with being underdressed. I'll probably wear a suit again next time.

What to wear?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:21 pm
by Dave Jensen
Sam, maybe you had on something very dark and spooky looking ):

My guess is that (for a man) a really nice sport coat with dress shirt, tie and a nice pair of slacks is fine and that would not be considered funeral attire,

Dave

What to wear?

PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:46 pm
by Drew Parrish
This is why I love this forum - I get to find out everything I've done wrong (which is a lot...).

I was in Kelly Ann's situation a few months ago and didn't wear a suit to a job interview at a biotech. I wore nice slacks and a sweater set/scarf. I still got the job.

I think there's something in between Dave's "polo shirt and dockers" and a full out suit. Maybe for guys that's dark slacks and a button down shirt/tie...for women, slacks or a dark skirt and a button down shirt or sweater?

I did a lot of surveying around before I went, and the advice given to me was to dress 1-2 steps above what I would wear on a daily basis there.

I suppose, though, that the suit may be the safest route. It's probably more of a fatal flaw to be too underdressed than overdressed.