These are great tips for students pursuing opportunities in the Bay Area!
It never fails: You have an interview with that big software company in Palo Alto, or even a second interview with the hippest of SOMA startups, and no matter how many outfits you’ve mixed and matched, you still feel like you have nothing to wear. Friends suggest wearing a suit and calling it a day. Except, being overdressed for a Bay Area interview may cost you the perfect job.
Engineering teams aren’t just looking for someone who can code. They’re trying to decide if the candidate is a culture fit. Most engineers wear denim and a t-shirt — this is more true at startups — and it’s rare to find a tech worker in a suit. Overdressing for an interview can make a person seem too serious or, even worse, not very fun to have around.
If you are interviewing for any technical role, whether it be on the server side or in quality assurance, business casual is the way to go. It also wouldn’t hurt to have four interviewing getups, one for each season.
Fashions for the non technical
For those in human resources, marketing, sales, or any other non-technical role, I also recommend business casual attire for Bay Area interviewing.
Men are perfectly fine with just a shirt and tie, and women may wear pants or dresses with cool patterns. It’s always a good idea to ask the recruiter or hiring manager via email or over the phone what the company attire is like. This will definitely help narrow down the garments and aid in the decision making process.
The elegant executive
Unlike their East Coast counterparts, Bay Area executives don’t need a collection of high-end wool suits. They are the only section of people, however, who need to dress up a bit more for interviews in the Bay Area.
Because we enjoy such great weather in California, executives can save a lot of money by purchasing suits made of summer cloth. These fabrics often boost a wider selection of colors and patterns and give the tech savvy executive more options to express themselves.
Clothes do talk
The key to choosing an outfit is to clash patterns, but match colors. For women, it’s fine to wear jewelry — nothing screams, “I’m Creative!” like a hip pair of earrings. Men can show some flare by opting to wear shirts and ties with trendy colors and patterns. Clothes give a glimpse into who you are. Make sure the message you are sending out is the one you want.
Belo Cipriani is an award-winning author, former staffing professional, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Writer-in-Residence at Holy Names University. Learn more at BeloCipriani.com.