On Suits

A few weeks ago I had a long discussion with regarding dress codes in the workplace, and how they differ from profession to profession. All of the places I’ve worked at have at most followed the “golf course” rule: wear a collared shirt. At Swat, t-shirt and shorts was fine.

In the context of interviewing, a suit is typically worn. At the time, I disliked the idea that a candidate would be at all judged on their appearance as opposed to their merits and skills.

I’ve decided that wearing a suit to an interview is not about showing respect to the job or the interviewer; it’s about conforming to the tradition of wearing suits to interviews. That tradition has no direct bearing on one’s qualifications for the position, but most companies like people who follow the rules and conform to company policy. Following the tradition of getting dressed up for an interview is an indicator that you are a generally conformist candidate.

Also, in technical fields, it clearly marks a visitor to the building because they’re overdressed.

Ohio” from So Far by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


2 responses to “On Suits”

  1. Wearing a suit also demonstrates your ability to dress neatly, make an effort with regard to your appearance, etc., and the general assumption is that someone who can’t manage to look nice for an interview probably isn’t going to be an effective employee. Not that appearance is a measure of actual ability, but that it can be a measure of temperament, which is still useful.

    I’ve experienced the “collared shirt” (or “buttoned shirt”) phenomenon, too — I like Hawaiian shirts.

  2. It’s the difference between looking good and not looking bad. If it’s obeyed correctly (at least marginally) by everyone, the result is that you *aren’t* judged by your appearance, since everyone tries their hardest to look the same. The standard just means that workplaces need not mention it to their job candidates prior to an interview that, “oh, by the way, you should wear a suit for this.”

Nurd Up!