You cannot go wrong in a suit.
Because I have been advising students for over 17 years I wondered if my advice was out-of-date. So I contacted Lindsey Pollak, Gen Y Career and Workplace Expert, and here is what she had to say:
"In the vast majority of interview situations, a suit is the appropriate option. In conservative industries (e.g., law, finance, accounting), it is the only option. If you think you are interviewing at an organization where a suit might not be required (e.g., a surfwear start-up or a hip hop record label), you must find out for sure. This means reaching out to anyone you can find in that company or industry and asking what you should wear (ask friends and family, reach out on LinkedIn, anonymously call the HR department where you’re interviewing, etc.). If the clear advice is to wear something other than a suit, then you can safely wear something else. The bottom line: Never wing it. Find out for sure what’s appropriate. Never lose an opportunity because of your outfit."
We also contacted one of our employer advisory board members, Wade Krogwold of Direct Supply, who shared this:
"As a recruiter at a company that does not have a dress code, we have people that wear everything from shorts and a t-shirt to a suit and tie. But for interviews, I recommend that students dress professionally. Wearing professional attire reflects two things – you are serious about making the transition from college to your career, and you realize you will be making an important decision. Thus, appropriate attire for most interviews will entail suiting up. There are exceptions to that based on the profession you are going into; for example, creative talent roles like graphic, fashion or interior design, and retail roles (corporate and consumer) will look at your attire as an indication of your skills and ‘fit’ for the role.
However, it is better to err on the side of wearing conservative, professional attire. And instead of spending an exorbitant amount of time on what you are going to wear, spend it on preparing examples that illustrate when you have completed similar tasks and successfully used the skills they are seeking. I am impressed by a candidate that can articulate why they are a match for the role and can share examples that reinforce that match. At the end of the interview you want people to remember you for your skills, talents and passion – not the awesome red shoes you paired with your outfit."
Here are some examples of traditional and less-formal interviewing attire:
Happy Interviewing! Laura