Interview Preparation

When you go in for an interview, you should try and dress as well as the best dressed person you'll meet with, or 1 step above. Note that that's also general rule of consulting. It's generally the best way to get someone to feel at ease with you as trustworthy and appropriately professional.

The difficulty here is that you don't want to just ask the HR person you're speaking with how you should dress. That will raise red flags in their mind. The general assumption in most companies seems to be that they do things exactly like everyone else (even when they don't), and so asking that question will make you seem to be uninformed or green to the industry. So instead you ask them if they wouldn't mind telling you about the work environment at that paritcular office, just "so you know".

I know the rules well for guys - ladies, you'll have to fill in your own equivalents here. But if the job is described as client-facing or the company atmosphere is described fairly conservative or formal you should expect to be wearing a nice suit to the interview. If it's "dynamic and fast paced" then slacks and a sport coat or a nice shirt and slacks without a tie might be more appropriate. You should never go as casual as jeans or a polo shirt for an interview, but the coat and tie is a variance. The color of the shirt can also be a factor - bright colors exude confidence and energy, but they also can convey a sense of independence that very conservative companies may not like. When going into tech companies I normally will wear a suit, but with a bright colored shirt and matching tie. I've had some success going without a tie as well, but that was for "casual" environments.

The goal here is to show that you fit into their culture, and clothing is a good indicator of personality in a lot of peoples' minds. (I tend to disagree with that assessment, but I'm not beyond playing on peoples' preconceptions either.)

The final thing is how to schedule the interview. If you're working with a headhunter you can just tell them your real schedule, but if you are dealing with the company directly then you should give them 2 or 3 options if they ask for your schedule. "I'm free all day Tuesday, and before lunch on Thursday and Friday" makes it sound like you have other interviews, but are giving them enough options to find something to work with. You want to be open enough to give them some good time, but not so open that it looks like you aren't finding other opportunities. In short, you want to look valuable and make them want to compete for you, but you also want to be attainable and flexible. If they say that none of the times you told them work, ask them what time they have and then say you can call back in a few minutes to confirm that time after you're given a moment to move things around. That is, of course, unless you really do have a conflicting interview. You shouldn't ever move anything around if you can help it. The truth is that businesses are a lot less flexible than you are when it comes to schedule, so once something is on the calendar, you should leave it there.

That should get you all the way up to the interview.

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