Developer "Interview" - What to wear?

Hey folk!

I’m a bit at a loss right now and wanted to get some input on something. I’ve found a local company that creates website and CRM for realtors. I reached out to them for a Front-End Developer/Designer position, and ended up landing a conversation with the CTO. He was more interested in my eye for design than my ability to code. His stance was that you can’t teach someone to have an eye for art, but you can teach them to code. So he was fine with my limited experience (none) in coding, going based off of a simple personal website that I coded. And since I have a background in design (though more casual than professional), I was able to send him a small portfolio that he liked.

So fast forward to now. We had a conversation about my ideas and aspirations. It was a short and very casual conversation about what I like to do and where I want to go in my career. Now he wants me to come in to - in his words - see if I would fit in with the team. I’m going in on Tuesday (two days from now) and have been wracking my brain about what to wear.

I know the old saying goes “you can never be too overdressed” and that it’s better to err on the side of caution. But what I’ve been coming up against is that a lot of the teach industry has actually adapted the idea that if you’re overdressed, you might not seem as if you fit in. I was thinking about wearing a suit, but from everything that I can find, it’s a pretty laid back company. Even their photos of the team on their site, the most dressed up person is in a casual button up with a tweed blazer.

Help. I’m at a loss. I don’t want to be judged poorly for under-dressing, but I don’t want to stick out to the point that they couldn’t see me fitting in at all.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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I’ve asked this question to a few of my friends here in San Jose and I’ve pretty much received the same answer from all of them. Don’t wear a suit or a jacket. Just wear plaid or some other casual attire. You can still look nice in casual clothes, just put together a higher end fitted outfit if you want to exhibit your eye for design.

Im going to agree with not wear a suit…go with what the most formal you see on the website, button up shirt with a blazer…and slacks no jeans, even if they are wearing jeans in the pic.

That way, you’re casual enough for the environment…but also dressed professionally enough that they know you prepared to be at an interview.

Btw…AWESOME on getting the interview!!! Please check back with how it went! :smiley:

As the saying goes, “Bird of the feather tend to flock together” So it’s based on what that company’s culture is. However, I’d suggest dressing a step more compared to what you would wear if you were working for them. For instances, if the company is a polo and jeans culture, wear some dress shoes and shine those bad boys up. You’ll convey that you put effort into the interview and you really want to do a good job.

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Dress Guide for Programmers


On one hand, things have gotten more casual. And different companies have different cultures, but tech seems to be skewing casual.

I would at the very least where some khakis with nice shoes (at least not sneakers) and button down shirt tucked in with a belt. Anything less than that just seems lazy. Unless you have an amazing portfolio that screams “eccentric genius”, I think it’s going to be hard for them to be willing to take a chance on you. It’s like that quote from Bull Durham:

Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You'll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.

But on the other hand, if this is a startup with ping pong tables, bean bags, and a popcorn machine, you’re going to look out of touch if you walk in in a Brooks Brothers suit.

As suggested, I would dress at least as dressy as what you saw on the web site. I think the slacks with an open shirt and sport coat screams confidence. If it’s a young and hip firm you might get away with some nice jeans or sneakers with that, but that’s risky. If you don’t want the jacket, khakis with a shirt and tie says “I’m young and eager”. Bonus points if the tie has “personality”.

Interviews are weird. I think of them as first dates. You are showing what you are capable of. She knows that you will not have a brand new haircut, car freshly washed, dropping $80 on dinner every night, but you are saying, “When I put effort into it, this is what I’m capable of.” That’s how I approach interviews.

But as has been said, it’s all about fitting in nowadays. “You can never be too overdressed” might be old fashioned nowadays. Or maybe no, maybe just the definition of “dressed” has changed. “Dressed” used to mean a gray flannel suit, matching hat, starched shirt, and conservative tie. Maybe it just means something different.

Based on what you’ve said, I’d go with slacks (khakis? chinos?) and a button down shirt and a sport coat (tweed jacket? navy blazer?). That says “I put some effort into this, but I’m not old and stuffy.” I might have a tie in my pocket. You can get there early and see people walking in and out. You can maybe even go some other day at starting time and watch and see what the workers look like.

Sheesh. I always tell myself, a nice short post…

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Here is a very good interview guide shared by Camper @KevinCSTing

Wow I dont know…those business formals they say are a do look…waaay too formal. And the don’s (save for the capris for women) look more reasonable.

Then again…take anything I say with a grain of salt lol Ive only ever been in 2 interviews in 20 years of working… first one was when I was a temp at a TV station …my supervisor called me into her office one day to interview and I freaked out on her cause I was wearing jeans that day…told her I wouldve at least cleaned myself up if I knew. She laughed and said she could care less what I wear. Second interview was last year for a sales position, I just wore a nice dress. It was grey at least. I was hired. The rdress code on the job was resort casual…still way too formal for me, never again.

So for sure…if I had to go out and buy a formal business suit, stockings and work appropriate heels for an interview to look right for the job, thats probably not the right job for me.

I am so going in with this photo to justify my bumminess. :smiley:

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Not sure if this will help, but the few times I went for an interview, I did so in a nice blouse and skirt. A little formal, but not too much.

I went to an interview with a low-cut, short black dress.
They told me “Mister, that is totally inappropriate.”


My things I do or like doing are old school. Since I was 22 yo (46 now), I have been on several different interviews for jobs like Bouncer, Bartender, Security/Law Enforcement, Office Administrative related, IT Help Desk, and Developer jobs. I’ve pretty much wear the same types of clothes.

For Bouncer and Bartender jobs.

  1. Tie
  2. Dress shirt
  3. Dress slacks
  4. Dress shoes

For Security/Law Enforcement, Office Administrative related, IT Help Desk, and Developer jobs (basically more professional).

  1. Tie
  2. Dress shirt
  3. Dress slacks
  4. Dress shoes
  5. Dress/Sports Jacket
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Slacks, button-down, dress shoes.
A jacket is optional but if you have one that fits well, go for it.
If you present as female, you can wear a skirt instead of slacks or a blouse instead of a button-down.
If you present as male, a tie is a nice touch.

Most developers I know haven’t worn a suit since their interview, but did wear a suit to their interview.

I’m sure there are some individuals who may think that overdessing for a interview is somehow a negative thing, but they are definitely in the minority.

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For myself, I don’t wear a formal suit to an interview for a developer position. The rule of thumb told to me by recruiters when discussing this issue when I was looking for a developer position is to dress no more than one or two levels above their dress code. I go to interviews wearing slacks, dress shoes, button down shirt and tie. Unless you’re applying at a really high end, business formal 24/7 type of place, that will give them the impression that you’re professional without being too “stuffy.” It may also depend on what part of the country you live, as well.

In my experience, when they say they want to see how you fit in with the team, they are talking more about the dynamics between you and their current team. Do you have things in common (sports , shows, hobbies, etc)? Does the conversation with them come easily or does it feel forced? Does your personality match theirs or at least doesn’t get on their nerves?

Dress nice and be yourself at the interview. Research the company and questions to ask during an interview. Be confident and watch for cues to elaborate or continue with certain topics or discussions. Have questions ready to ask and take a notepad to take down notes and use it to remember any new questions you have during the interview. Always remember that you’re interviewing the company just as much as they’re interviewing you so don’t be afraid to ask questions and get more information on things you want to know more about or don’t fully understand. At the end, make sure you ask what the next steps are for the hiring process and what you could have done better during the interview.

Good luck!

casual smart is perfect as usual

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