How to Dress for a STEM Interview at a Casual Company

Within the first 90 seconds of meeting a candidate, 33% of bosses reported that they have already determined whether or not they’d hire someone. First impressions matter and a large part of making a good first impression is in the way you dress. Tech industries and startups have a reputation for being cool and casual working environments, so you may wonder whether you should dress up—or actually dress down—for your interview? Before you start picking your wardrobe, here are three things to keep in mind:

Dressing Up is Always Better than Dressing Down

Despite the casual culture of the company, remember that you are still in a professional interview. It is always a safe bet to wear your typical clean and well-fitting business professional interview outfit. There’s no harm in dressing up, but there definitely can be in dressing down. If you mistakenly judged the interview dress code and show up in jeans and a hoodie, it can come off as if you lack respect for the company and don’t care about the job.

Do Your Research

Although it is okay to be overdressed, the general rule of thumb is to dress one or two levels up from the company’s typical day-to-day. There’s no need to wear a three-piece suit if you don’t have to. Look into the company’s website and social media and see if there are images of employees that can help you gauge the company dress code and then dress up from there. Although overdressed is always better, too overdressed may make you come off as someone who doesn’t understand the nature of the company you are interviewing for. Find the right balance of clothing that conveys your desire to work there and respect for the culture.

When in Doubt, Just Ask!

Navigating what to wear for an interview is a tricky process, especially if the company doesn’t follow the typical business professional dress code. Hiring Managers understand this, so if you have genuine doubts, don’t be afraid to ask! Like with dressing up, asking for clarification is not going to deduct you any points. Instead, it may actually further show your interviewer that you genuinely care and want to do well in the interview.

Keep the Basics in Mind

Whether it’s a business professional finance company or a more casual tech startup, there are still always basic interview dress codes you should keep in mind:

  1. Stay away from distracting patterns or jewelry. Although you may have to put a lot of thought into what you wear, your interviewer shouldn’t. Keep it simple and don’t let your clothes distract away from you.
  2. Be wary of scents. Show up cleaned and showered, but leave off the heavy perfume and cologne. You never know what allergies people may have or what scents they may not like.
  3. Always be neat and clean. Don’t show up to your interview with messy hair and ripped clothing. Make the best first impression you can and make sure you come polished and presentable.

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