I am scheduled to have a lunch meeting with a firm next Friday. This firm is known for having a casual Friday dress code (e.g. jeans, polo tops, etc.). I don't want to look overly dressed or stuffy at my interview; should I attend this interview in something more casual as well?
Thanks for your question. My general rule of thumb when it comes to dress codes for an interview is that it is always better to be overdressed vs. underdressed. Thus, even though your interviewers may be in very casual clothes, you should still probably attend your interview wearing a formal suit. Even if a recruiting coordinator tells you it is okay to dress less formally for an interview, it is always safer to go with a more formal outfit.
Remember, you are primarily the one who is being evaluated so it is important to look your best. Dressing in a suit will also make you feel more professional and polished. It also shows your interviewers that you are taking their meeting seriously and that you respect their time.
In choosing a suit, be sure to pick neutral colors. Navy blue or black are always solid choices. You may have a fantastic fashion flare, but an interview is not the time to display it. For men, simple yet elegant ties in traditional colors will be well-received. If you are choosing between two potential looks for an interview, go for the more conservative one. In addition, choose dress shoes that are more formal and would not be mistaken for a more casual shoe. You want to make sure your visual presentation of yourself is as strong as the professional one you will be making during your interview.
- See Top Ten Interview Questions for more information
For women, there is a little bit more flexibility. If you are interviewing with a firm that has a reputation for being more old-fashioned or stuffy, you may want to opt for a knee-length skirt suit. Many firms, however, including most of the firms on the West Coast, view classic pantsuits to be appropriate interview attire. Like men, I advise my female candidates to wear suits that are more neutral in nature. Black or navy is always a good choice, along with a solid collared shirt.
Please keep your jewelry to a minimum and your hair tidy. Make-up for women should also be pretty minimal. In regards to shoes, a classic closed-toe pump is always a good bet. At times, open-toed shoes can seem too informal or inappropriate for an interview, so do not go this route. I also tell my female candidates to bring a briefcase instead of a purse, as I think this looks a little bit more professional. It is also practical to bring a briefcase, as you can safely and neatly store extra copies of your resume, transcripts, writing samples, and references in it.
- See Interviewing Tips for more information
I would also recommend not wearing any cologne or perfume to an interview. Some people are very sensitive to scents and not all people have the same tastes as to what smells good.
I hope these tips are helpful to you and that your interview goes well. Best of luck to you!
Harrison Barnes is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and a successful legal recruiter. He is extremely committed to and passionate about the profession of legal placement. His firm BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys. BCG Attorney Search works with attorneys to dramatically improve their careers by leaving no stone unturned in job searches and bringing out the very best in them. Harrison has placed the leaders of the nation’s top law firms, and countless associates who have gone on to lead the nation’s top law firms. There are very few firms Harrison has not made placements with. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placements attract millions of reads each year. He coaches and consults with law firms about how to dramatically improve their recruiting and retention efforts. His company LawCrossing has been ranked on the Inc. 500 twice. For more information, please visit Harrison Barnes’ bio.
About BCG Attorney Search
BCG Attorney Search matches attorneys and law firms with unparalleled expertise and drive, while achieving results. Known globally for its success in locating and placing attorneys in law firms of all sizes, BCG Attorney Search has placed thousands of attorneys in law firms in thousands of different law firms around the country. Unlike other legal placement firms, BCG Attorney Search brings massive resources of over 150 employees to its placement efforts locating positions and opportunities its competitors simply cannot. Every legal recruiter at BCG Attorney Search is a former successful attorney who attended a top law school, worked in top law firms and brought massive drive and commitment to their work. BCG Attorney Search legal recruiters take your legal career seriously and understand attorneys. For more information, please visit www.BCGSearch.com.
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Harrison Barnes is the legal profession's mentor and may be the only person in your legal career who will tell you why you are not reaching your full potential and what you really need to do to grow as an attorney--regardless of how much it hurts. If you prefer truth to stagnation, growth to comfort, and actionable ideas instead of fluffy concepts, you and Harrison will get along just fine. If, however, you want to stay where you are, talk about your past successes, and feel comfortable, Harrison is not for you.
Truly great mentors are like parents, doctors, therapists, spiritual figures, and others because in order to help you they need to expose you to pain and expose your weaknesses. But suppose you act on the advice and pain created by a mentor. In that case, you will become better: a better attorney, better employees, a better boss, know where you are going, and appreciate where you have been--you will hopefully also become a happier and better person. As you learn from Harrison, he hopes he will become your mentor.
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