A question was recently posted on a networking site about what an executive candidate should wear to an interview with a company that does not follow a dress code. Here was my answer and I hope some of you take my "give the poor interviewee a break" suggestion to heart!
This really "depends". I don't think there is a one size fits all for this situation. As with all interviews, do your research. If you can, reach out to someone in the company and ask for their advice - (use LI to find them !) do it – definitely. (You may also build an advocate in the company in the process!)
In my case, when I was a GM, managing developers and client services staff, we wore biz casual on M-Th and casual on Fridays. If clients were around, we wore business attire. (Although, when we got to know our clients very well- we told them to wear jeans in the office if our meeting was on Friday and they all did – and LOVED that we invited them too!)
My instructions to anyone in the company who was hiring/interviewing was to spell out the expectation for people before the interview. It just was one small way that we could put a candidate to ease a bit. I’d rather they be concerned with expressing their aptitude and rehearsing the “interview questions” and boning up on our industry, clients and business than what type of clothing to wear. I always paid attention too. If I specifically told them we would all be in jeans due it being Friday and told them they could do the same, I noticed those who didn’t. It said something to me that the GM invited them to be casual and they disregarded it or didn’t listen. Now, I never expected them to show up in flip flops and a torn and stained shirt with their jeans but if we were all in jeans—they could be too! I found it interesting to see how they would ‘adjust’ to this…..Those who did it tastefully i.e.; some type of jacket, a shirt or smart t-shirt and jeans with a belt and good, clean shoes, always won out with me.
This is an age old question and it has always amazed me that hiring managers and HR professionals do not cover this when setting up an interview. C’mon folks, let’s put this question to bed and just set the expectation. Give the poor interviewee a break!