What to wear to a job interview – the second time around?

by K B , updated on April 8, 2011

If you are what you wear, what do you wear to a job interview?

There is heaps of advice around on what to wear to a job interview. I’ll link to some better resources at the bottom of this post.

The trickier question I think, is what to wear to a second job interview.

I had a question the other day from a candidate wanting to know what to wear to his second job interview. He’d worn a suit to the first job interview, but his interviewers were dressed in business casual. The interviewers had complimented him on the way that he understood the culture of the organisation, so he was wondering whether he should show that he’d taken notice of the culture and dress in the same style as his interviewers for his second interview.

Tricky question! So I took the opportunity to ask a consultant from an image advisory company.

She said an emphatic no! And that no was because:

–          People sum you up pretty quickly when they meet you. You may meet someone new in the second interview who is a stickler for a suit

–          It is rude and presumptuous to second guess what is important to an organisation and that more casual dress would be acceptable for the second interview

–          The first interview could have been held on “casual Friday”

–          The interviewers had already complimented him on his knowledge of the culture the first time around, while he was wearing a suit

What to wear to an interview, whether it is a first or second interview is a difficult question.

The consultant was emphatic that people should wear suits, and I agree to a point. However, one of the employers we interviewed for our book, What Do Employers Really Want?, said she worried when people wore suits to her interview, as it showed they would not be suitable for their environment, which was strictly casual, and based at the markets.

My rule of thumb for what to wear, is to think about the job and what people from that company would typically wear, then dress as smartly as they would do, if they were visiting their clients. So it generally means a suit for a male. That suit however does not need to be deep blue banking conservative, if you are going for a marketing agency role, but a suit nonetheless.

Nobody is going to penalise you for making an effort!

This post has some excellent advice on what to wear to a job interview.


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