Author Topic: How do you reply to "Am I dressed ok for an interview?" from a stranger?  (Read 3599 times)

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Erich L-ster

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I think it's possible to tactfully critique an outfit if you did find it lacking (although that wasn't the case this time). I would say something like "Maybe you should go with a plain closed toe shoe" or "If you have a blazer it might have been better to wear that."

If you go with suggestions of individual pieces it would probably come more softly than criticizing the outfit as a whole.

jmarvellous

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I don't think a knit vest and open-toed shoes are appropriate attire for a business interview, no matter how casual the office is most days.
But if I were with her in the elevator, I'd have been very noncommittal: "Everyone has their own standards. Personally, I've always worn a suit to an interview." 

(Technically, that's not true, but it is true since I was 18 and found the cheapest suit I could manage. And until my current job, I would have been laughed at for wearing a suit to work.)

angilamae

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I work in recruiting and at my last job we told people to wear what you feel comfortable in but if you don't know business casual is always safe.  This is in the Seattle area though and a software company so not super formal.

At my current job, I have heard the recruiters tell the candidates NOT to wear a tie etc that it would look odd.  These are for jobs all over the place.

I tend to dress in what i guess is business casual and am usually interviewed by people in jeans. I would never consider wearing jeans though even if I knew for a fact it was allowed.  I have been the interviewer and hired someone in jeans though (for an office type job).

It seems to me that there is no real rule anymore.  I think she was dressed fine although I am a little thrown by the vest but that is probably just becuase I don't like them.
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Sophia

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I asked something like that but it was in the Walmart bathroom (not where I was interviewing)  At home, I'd gotten dressed in my new Goodwill suit (darn weight gain) and it seemed like the outfit needed a necklace.  I didn't have any recent necklaces (mine are very 80's)  But, I wasn't sure.  On the way in to the interview, I stopped in at the bathroom and saw a woman like me.  I asked her opinion on the necklace.  she agreed it needed a necklace. 
Of course, in this case, I had a chance to correct it.  I was really short on cash, so if she'd said I didn't need one, I probably wouldn't have bought it. 

Waterlight

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I don't think a knit vest and open-toed shoes are appropriate attire for a business interview, no matter how casual the office is most days.
But if I were with her in the elevator, I'd have been very noncommittal: "Everyone has their own standards. Personally, I've always worn a suit to an interview."  (Technically, that's not true, but it is true since I was 18 and found the cheapest suit I could manage. And until my current job, I would have been laughed at for wearing a suit to work.)

This is closest to what my answer would be.  It really does depend on the employer.  But if someone were to ask me for suggestions pre-interview, I'd recommend either a suit, a pair of dress slacks or a skirt and a blouse with a jacket, or a dress with a jacket.  Suits may or may not work for different people; they don't for me, since I'm two sizes bigger on the bottom than on top. I work in HR for a nonprofit where the dress code is definitely on the "casual" side of business casual, FWIW.

On my most recent job interview, I went with a pair of black dress slacks, a gray silk blouse with matching necklace, and a black jacket.
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Twik

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I work in recruiting and at my last job we told people to wear what you feel comfortable in but if you don't know business casual is always safe.

I'm afraid of I were being given this advice I wouldn't understand it. What if I really felt most comfortable in pyjamas? Can I wear bunny slippers?

And what is meant by "if you don't know, business casual is safe"? Does it  mean if I don't know what I'm comfortable in? Or if I don't know what the standard in the workplace *really* is, instead of "just wear whatever you want, we think bunny slippers are a hoot"?
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lurkerwisp

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I would say that a knit sweater vest is not formal enough for an office job interview. She should have been wearing a suit jacket.

So I've learned that often clothing is just a way for the interview to project his/her prejudices on a candidate.  That's not the kind of person you want to work for, anyway.

I have to agree with this, though.


Meanwhile... our super informal (we're a kinda ripped jeans and tshirt group when no customers are around) company's office gossip suggests that a recent interviewee was not chosen because he showed up in a suit and tie that looked so fancy it probably cost more than our server.  It was assumed that anyone who dressed that slick (and drove such a fancy car) would probably be looking for a higher salary than we could offer.  So I guess the lesson is that you should dress appropriately for the position for which you're applying, neither too far above it nor even a little below.

Instead of assuming, they could have just asked... :(

The lesson I am starting to take away from this thread, is: "dress however the heck you want because for some companies, it will never be right and you're probably better off not working for/with people who are that prejudiced and assume-happy." >.<

If it makes you feel better, he wasn't currently out of work.  It sounded like he was fishing for a raise from his current job by getting an offer elsewhere.

Tia2

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It would never occur to me not to wear a suit for an interview, but if I were interviewing for an office/job that didn't require that, I could see matching what the employees wore.

Having said that, I wouldn't ever wear open toed shoes.  I know PPs have said this is common in parts of the US, but in the UK, I think that's far too casual.

Yvaine

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I don't think a knit vest and open-toed shoes are appropriate attire for a business interview, no matter how casual the office is most days.
But if I were with her in the elevator, I'd have been very noncommittal: "Everyone has their own standards. Personally, I've always worn a suit to an interview." 

(Technically, that's not true, but it is true since I was 18 and found the cheapest suit I could manage. And until my current job, I would have been laughed at for wearing a suit to work.)

I got my current job while wearing a plain black top, a light scarf, and a print skirt--if I had it to do over, I'd probably wear a suit, but I didn't have one at the time (I think I was 25 and not wise in the ways of the work wardrobe) and it was August anyway.

Snooks

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I think that in case like this you were asked a question as an impartial stranger -- so answering honestly would be the best thing to do.

I've seen some completely crazy interviewers when it comes to clothing, though.  Two examples:

One of my friends interviewing for a library student job got chewed out by the interviewer about her clothing.  The interviewer said her outfit was completely inappropriate for a job interview because it didn't match.  My poor friend had no idea what she was talking about (since she was dressed in black pants, black shoes, and a white top), and asked for clarification.  The interviewer said that it was obvious -- her shoes were glossy black, but her pants were matte black.  The interviewer would never dream of hiring someone with shiny shoes and non-shiny pants, and it clearly demonstrated a lack of attention to detail.

I can't even begin to imagine what shiny pants would look like because all I can think of are sequins...

I hate the term business casual because for women I have no idea what the heck it means.  For men it's easy, shirt and trousers, no suit jacket or tie required.  Everywhere I've worked has been "business casual" and I vary between trousers, top and cardigan and dress/skirts with boots.  Of course if I ever worked anywhere truly smart I'd have to buy a whole new wardrobe!

NyaChan

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If some random person asked me that, I would be too afraid to point out anything wrong - how are they going to fix it out in public?  I guess unless it's something easy to fix, like a sweater mis-buttoned.

If I knew the person asking was in a position to fix something, I might make gentle suggestions. 

(On a side note, is it super old-fashioned of me that open-toed shoes seem off to me in a office setting?  It probably is.)

Nope.  We are cautioned against doing it unless we see that others in the office who are higher up/more established are doing it.  Even then I avoid it to be safe.