Suit Up! Formal Job Interview Attire Preferred By One-Third Of CIOs


When it comes to job interviews, sometimes you can never be too formal.

Students and recent grads looking to become IT professionals may want to trade in their casual interview attire for something more suitable: a suit.

The statistics don’t lie; in a recent Robert Half Technology survey, 33% of CIOs said a suit was the most appropriate attire for someone interviewing for an IT job. Additionally, 29% favoured tailored separates, while another 29% prefer khakis and collared shirts.

It takes only a few seconds to form a first impression, and for a short interview, those seconds may make or break your chances of being hired.

Technology job interview attire guidelines

In the survey, career experts from Robert Half Technology addressed why it’s important for IT job candidates to wear proper attire during the interview, appropriate attire if you are unsure of what to wear and tips for selecting proper interview attire. These tips are applicable to IT candidates, but also applicants interviewing for positions in other industries. First impressions are always important!

To summarize the most important interview guidelines from the survey, you should be sure to:

Be comfortable

You want to be as confident and comfy as possible! If you are physically uncomfortable, this will show in your behaviour during the interview. Girls, this means saving those stilettos for the club, not the office.

Don’t overlook the small things

Make sure your shoes match your belt (or purse), and never EVER wear white socks! Ensure you are wrinkle and stain-free, well groomed and clean. If you are unsure, ask a professional … or your mom.

Everything in moderation

I like to choose one “thing” that interviewers can remember me by, like a bow in my hair or a uniquely coloured dress shirt, but ultimately, the interview is about your qualities and skills, not your fashion sense. Remember to avoid overwhelming perfumes/colognes, excessive or inappropriately-coloured makeup, and distracting jewellery.

Shut it off!

This is an obvious step that if forgotten, is often an immediate deal-breaker. Skip the silent setting and go straight to “off” when you have interviews. Be present and distraction free.

Webcam interviews are still interviews

To ensure that I am distraction-free for webcam interviews I like to book a study room at school for an hour or two. This ensures a quiet and distraction-free zone. If you do not have access to a private room, dress professionally from head-to-toe and make sure there’s nothing messy or inappropriate in view of the webcam.

Looking professional without breaking the bank

As long as you are comfortable, well-groomed, looking natural and fresh, free of distractions and confident, your first impression will be the best it can be. However, as a student or recent grad, how does one go about purchasing such expensive interview accessories?

Personally, as a student, I am on a tight budget when it comes to pretty much everything. Due to this I have had to search far and wide to find interview clothing at reasonable prices. Some popular methods include outlet stores, coupons and customer reward programs, shopping during the off-season and hitting up thrift stores!

Of these suggestions, my favourites are shopping the off-season and thrifting. End of season sales are excellent for discovering cheap but new items that you can either save for the next year or wear immediately. Interviews in March are perfect because you can buy end-of-winter items and use them for a month before it gets too warm! Browse the clearance and sale racks at stores like Target, Winners, Marshalls, Reitmans, Smart Set, RW&Co., and others.

If you want even cheaper clothing you can visit liquidation sales or thrift stores. Some of my favourites include the Salvation Army, Talize and Value Village. This experience can be rewarding if you know what to look for and don’t mind wearing gently used clothing; I often find brand new clothes with the original tags still on!

Make sure the clothing does not look physically worn out, check the seams for rips and holes, and look for tiny stains or imperfections. If you spend some time dry-cleaning/washing clothing after purchase, it’s just like new and no one will ever know where you got them. These places are often “hit and miss” so you have to make frequent visits, as they get new merchandise every day.

Interviews can be overwhelming, and it may seem as though every little move you make or thing you wear is under inspection, but at the end of the day, remember what Yves Saint Laurent said: “The most beautiful make-up of [anyone] is passion” and I have never read anything truer. Dress appropriately, bring your passion to the table and you will be a force to be reckoned with.

What are your best tips for looking good in tech interviews on a tight budget?

Technology Week featuring student and entry level jobs from top employers like IBM and Reynolds & Reynolds

Photo credit: Jonathan Mueller

About the author

Olivia Hoskin is a third-year international marketing management student attending McGill University in Montreal. Currently cold from the high negative temperatures out here in the 514. She is from Ontario, and loves her family, friends and pets. Enjoys marketing, advertising, travelling and long walks to the fridge.