To Go Formal or Casual? What to Wear to a Startup Interview

Congrats! After sending bunch of job applications to various prominent startup and waiting in anticipation, finally you receive an invitation to your first startup interview. As you have always been keen in joining a startup team, the interview will give you a good opportunity to realise that dream. While you might feel excited, you might also feel anxious about how you should sell yourself and show that you are the right candidate for the position.

As the popular saying goes, ‘first impression matter’. Be it regarding the physical appearance or attitude, how you present yourself during the first meeting will leave a lingering impression for others, including in an interview. The problem is, choosing the right outfit to wear for an interview at a startup can be a tough decision to make.

You must have heard that working at startup gives you the freedom to get rid of your corporate’s suit-and-tie attire and define your own dress code of the day. However, is wearing hoodies and jeans a right choice for an interview? Or, do you have to stick to usual formal shirts and chinos? On the one hand, you have to demonstrate that you are a professional who is taking the interview seriously. However, you also want to show that you are a flexible individual who is ready to blend in with the less-formal startup culture.

Whether you are applying for an internship, entry-level or even managerial position in a startup, here are some things you need to consider when choosing the right outfit for an interview at a unicorn company:

  1. Find out the company dress code

Many startups utilise social media to engage with their audiences. On regular basis, they share photos or even video tours that show the activities or everyday lives of the staffs in the office. You can check the company’s social media accounts or websites to take a sneak peek of what people in the office are wearing at work. Take some time to scroll through their Facebook or Instagram to find out the proper outfit you can wear for the interview.

  1. Ask the hiring manager directly

When getting an interview invitation either via email or phone, the hiring manager usually gives you a chance to ask something about the interview. You can use this opportunity to ask him directly about what you should wear when showing up at the office. This will not only help you to avoid embarrassment due to the wrong dress code, but also leaves an impression that you are committed and serious about the interview.

  1. Know your role

Before choosing the outfit that you will wear, first of all you have to understand the role and type of company you are applying. Are you applying for a position that requires you to meet many people like customer service and marketing, or do more work behind the scenes and deal with computers like web developers and designers? As the nature of these jobs may vary, this can help you determine appropriate outfit to wear. If your position makes you have to meet many people, you might want to make yourself presentable by not wearing too casual attires.

  1. Reveal your character

This advice might sound so common, but it is the most crucial one. Wear something that can show you who you really are. The point is to be yourself by wearing a comfortable and authentic attire that can reveal your character but still in tune with the company’s dress code. Thus, you can demonstrate that you can fit in with the team. Regardless of your dress choices, you should always remember to keep it clean and neat.

Next read: Five Hot Startup Careers that Don’t Involve Coding