Subscribe

Forum

Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a suit?

Welcome to the newly redesigned Science Careers Forum. Please bookmark this site now for future reference. If you've previously posted to the forum, your current username and password will remain the same in the new system. If you've never posted or are new to the forum, you will need to create a new account.

The new forum is designed with some features to improve the user experience. Upgrades include:
- easy-to-read, threaded discussions
- ability to follow discussions and receive notifications of updates
- private messaging to other SC Forum members
- fully searchable database of posts
- ability to quote in your response
- basic HTML formatting available

Moderator: Dave Jensen
Advisors:   Ana, PG, Rich Lemert, Dick Woodward
Meet the Moderator/Advisors

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby Dave Jensen » Thu May 31, 2012 5:02 pm

Anna B. wrote:I agree with the bulk of the posters here. This is one of those fortunate situations where there is a right answer. Don't make it more difficult.Just wear a suit. There's not really any good argument for not doing so.

My husband works in a pretty casual industry, and he recently had an interview lined up at another company and was trying to decide what to wear. I kept begging him to wear a suit, and he kept insisting that in his industry, no one ever wears suits, and he wouldn't fit in, etc., etc. Fortunately, I convinced him. He discovered that every single man in that office is required to wear a suit every single day. He got an offer, which I can't imagine would have happened had he shown up in a sport coat.



Wow, Anna, that's a great example!!! Thank you so much!

Dave
“The world isn't fair, Calvin."
"I know Dad, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor?”
― Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7393
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby J.B. » Thu May 31, 2012 9:53 pm

I have been one of the staunch supporters of ALWAYS wearing a suit, no matter what the scenario (yes, even for postdoc interviews). I've never heard of anyone missing out on an opportunity because they were dressed too nicely. I don't understand why people would take a chance of looking bad in a fiercely competitive job market. Like Chris said, it's ONE DAY.

Just to add one more anecdote: when I lived in California and was interviewing for jobs, I always made sure to wear a suit to my interviews. I was very frequently complimented on how nice I looked and usually got a remark about how disappointing it was that more people didn't do the same. So even in the laid-back/relaxed atmosphere of California, suits are not only appropriate, but an easy way to miss out on an opportunity if you don't take it seriously.
J.B.
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:40 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby AX » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:50 pm

I think it is still the norm of wearing a suit for interview. However, being a suit hater myself i definitely understand how awkward it may feel both being the one who wears it but also being the one who observe the "overdressed" candidate.
My solution has been to invest in a "modern" suit of good quality. I basically went into an upscale fashion shop where they had a "professional dresser" and asked him to dress me for success but keep it stylish but NOT STIFF and avoid the traditional formal colors (grey/beige/black). He paired everything; suit, shirt and shoes and purse which I am very comfortable wearing and it looks absolutely cool and chic. It was expensive, but the suit will last for a long time and can be worn for many occasions so a good investment.
AX
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:48 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:22 pm

AX wrote:I think it is still the norm of wearing a suit for interview. However, being a suit hater myself i definitely understand how awkward it may feel both being the one who wears it but also being the one who observe the "overdressed" candidate.
My solution has been to invest in a "modern" suit of good quality. I basically went into an upscale fashion shop where they had a "professional dresser" and asked him to dress me for success but keep it stylish but NOT STIFF and avoid the traditional formal colors (grey/beige/black). He paired everything; suit, shirt and shoes and purse which I am very comfortable wearing and it looks absolutely cool and chic. It was expensive, but the suit will last for a long time and can be worn for many occasions so a good investment.


Thanks AX. I think you made a wise choice.

Incidentally, I would love to see someone post some advice specifically for women about things to wear/do/say on interview day. There are some REALLY BIG differences in male advice vs. female advice, and I hope that the forum can (in the future) gear much more of our advice to women. This forum has many more females reading and posting than a year or two ago for some reason that I have yet to determine,

Dave
“The world isn't fair, Calvin."
"I know Dad, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor?”
― Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7393
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby PT » Fri Jun 01, 2012 4:00 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:Incidentally, I would love to see someone post some advice specifically for women about things to wear/do/say on interview day.


Well, I have, in the past worn a 'suit' which consisted of a navy jacket and trousers or a black jacket and grey skirt (and this latter suit was partially responsible for my first job). I can't say that I ever felt overdressed, a little warm perhaps. These days, I wear smart trousers/skirt with a smart cardigan instead. I never wear high heels though - usually flat shoes or shoes with a small heel. I have heard interviewers talk after interviewing girls wearing high heels, wondering whether she/they should be considered as they found it difficult to believe that she/they would be able to work in a lab (i.e. there's a lot of standing around to be done).

However, I have also been told not to dress formally. In this instance, it had been very warm beforehand and it was the interviewer himself who said this (in an email). I still dressed smartly though.

As a female scientist, I have also never worn make-up for an interview. I don't wear make-up normally. I doubt this has hurt my chances. Others I know, do wear make-up, but it's usually along the lines of what they wear every day. I think this is a confidence thing - you may be more self-conscious if you don't normally wear any, or not feel right if you normally do but don't wear any for the interview. Then again, I've not know too many scientists who wear a tonne of the stuff. At least not in the lab!
PT
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:49 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby Chris » Fri Jun 01, 2012 5:56 pm

Dave, while there may be more potential land mines as a woman looks for a professional outfit to wear, the advice is essentially the same. Invest in a nice suit, nothing crazy or flashy, that you feel comfortable in. I've never worn a skirt to interview, but pants suits work just fine, perhaps with a neutral sweater or button-down shirt underneath. Comfortable dressy shoes. I like AX's advice to pick a store with a good selection of professional wear and get the whole outfit there. If you normally wear makeup, wear makeup. If you don't, don't.
Chris
 
Posts: 329
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:29 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby Andrew1 » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:45 pm

While it may not be a critical mistake, it is *potentially* a critical mistake. So why not avoid it, which is trivially easy.
Andrew1
 
Posts: 428
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby Priya.S » Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:33 pm

I have always worn a pant suit with a shirt- simple, not too flashy but one that looks professional. My mantra has been- wear something that you feel is über comfortable because some interviews can go for 8-9 hr.
Priya.S
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:43 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby V. Ray » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:49 am

Image is everything - even in science.

I want to comment on this because I get so frustrated when I see women give their faculty job talks dressed frumpy and disorganized. It's hard to believe that a woman can actually lead a research program when she can't even put herself together. Perhaps being female, I judge more harshly but to me it appears more common to see inadequate level of dress from women than men. Social expectations suggest that women to be more on top of this then men.

I think the pants suit is still eyed with a bit of mistrust for women. As an observer, I always think one of two things when I see a woman in a pants suit: (a) my god she has huge thighs or (b) she's so skinny and needs to eat a sandwich. If you're absolutely going to go with a pants suit, make sure the pant falls straight from where the bottom of the thigh ends.This eliminates those two thoughts from above. Also, the most common mistake: you can see underwear lines under the pants. A high-waisted pair of pants is always more professional than low-waisted, even if low-waisted looks more attractive.

A dress suit with a knee-length skirt is most suitable. Heels or no heels - doesn't matter as long as shoes are closed-toed, polished, with no scuff marks or broken heels. Clothing shouldn't be wrinkled. No perfume. No excessive jewelry. Cover all tattoos and piercings (including multiple ear piercings). A cardigan is equally under-dressed for the job interview for women. It lacks formality. Wear the suit jacket. It looks empowering, put-together, and shows someone who is on top of things.

If wearing a white shirt - don't wear a white (or black) bra. It shows through. Nude bra matches the skin and doesn't show through a white shirt.

As for makeup, about a half-dozen studies have shown that women are perceived as being more competent if they wear makeup... even a minimal amount of makeup. Err on the more conservative, natural side. A quick brush with mascara and simple lip-gloss (not lipstick) would be enough.
V. Ray
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:33 pm

Re: Interview Day: Is it a critical mistake not to wear a su

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:59 am

V. Ray wrote:Image is everything - even in science.

I want to comment on this because I get so frustrated when I see women give their faculty job talks dressed frumpy and disorganized. It's hard to believe that a woman can actually lead a research program when she can't even put herself together. Perhaps being female, I judge more harshly but to me it appears more common to see inadequate level of dress from women than men. Social expectations suggest that women to be more on top of this then men.

I think the pants suit is still eyed with a bit of mistrust for women. As an observer, I always think one of two things when I see a woman in a pants suit: (a) my god she has huge thighs or (b) she's so skinny and needs to eat a sandwich. If you're absolutely going to go with a pants suit, make sure the pant falls straight from where the bottom of the thigh ends.This eliminates those two thoughts from above. Also, the most common mistake: you can see underwear lines under the pants. A high-waisted pair of pants is always more professional than low-waisted, even if low-waisted looks more attractive.

A dress suit with a knee-length skirt is most suitable. Heels or no heels - doesn't matter as long as shoes are closed-toed, polished, with no scuff marks or broken heels. Clothing shouldn't be wrinkled. No perfume. No excessive jewelry. Cover all tattoos and piercings (including multiple ear piercings). A cardigan is equally under-dressed for the job interview for women. It lacks formality. Wear the suit jacket. It looks empowering, put-together, and shows someone who is on top of things.

If wearing a white shirt - don't wear a white (or black) bra. It shows through. Nude bra matches the skin and doesn't show through a white shirt.

As for makeup, about a half-dozen studies have shown that women are perceived as being more competent if they wear makeup... even a minimal amount of makeup. Err on the more conservative, natural side. A quick brush with mascara and simple lip-gloss (not lipstick) would be enough.


Thank you so much V. and I am glad you are here! Great post.

One comment I'm going to pull out and start another thread with . . .

Dave
“The world isn't fair, Calvin."
"I know Dad, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favor?”
― Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury
User avatar
Dave Jensen
Site Moderator
 
Posts: 7393
Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:28 pm

PreviousNext

Return to Science Careers Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: David Lathbury and 5 guests