Should You Always Wear a Suit to an Interview?

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Conflicting opinions exist as to whether you should always wear a suit to a job interview or not. A 2006 article in Business Week by Julie Gordon asserts that it is not always necessary to wear a suit in today's business world. However, Megan McLachlan of Primer Magazine asserts the exact opposite — a suit should be worn to every job interview. What is clear regarding opinions about wearing suits to job interviews is that no clear cut yes-or-no answer exists.

First Impressions

The old adage that you never get a second chance to make a first impression is always true when it comes to interviewing for a job. Even if there is good reason to believe that it is acceptable to not wear a suit to the job interview, you are more likely to leave an impression in the mind of the human resources hiring manager if you dress for success. This is especially true if a majority of the other interviewees show up without wearing a suit. You will appear as one of few, or maybe even the only one, who bothered to take the job interview seriously enough to dress up in a suit.

Business Culture

The business culture of the employer to which you are applying can have an effect on what you perceive to be acceptable attire to wear. For instance, if you are applying to a business where business casual attire is the norm, it might be tempting to assume that it is acceptable to show up for the interview dressed like the employees who already work there. This could be a mistake — Megan McLaughlan notes that it is possible to show up and appear under-dressed and not stand out enough to make a strong impression. If you dress like everyone already working at the place you interview, there is a chance you could get lost in the crowd.


Aside from providing a strong first impression, wearing a suit has an effect on how you feel about yourself. It can boost your confidence and give you the necessary positive energy to do well in your interview. Again, it goes back to the impression you leave with the interviewer. Her perception of you will be largely based on your own self-perception. If you appear to be someone who is well-kept and properly groomed, it can say something about your sense of responsibility and work ethic.

Non-Formal Settings

The one instance in which it may be acceptable to wear something other than a suit for a job interview is when it is conducted in a non-formal setting. According to Julie Gordon at Business Week, occasions when you may be interviewing at college recruiting events, or in an informal interview with a college peer who may be your inside track to getting a job, tend to be the only types of occasions where not wearing a suit is acceptable.


About the Author

Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.

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