Attire for a Second Interview?


Dana writes:
I read an article on your site on dressing for interviews and I have a question. I wore a skirted suit for my first interview and I have been invited for a second interview over lunch. The position I am interviewing for is executive assistant to Co-CEOs for a well-established small company with about 40 people. When I arrived everyone was in capri pants and sandals. The CEOs were men and were in khaki pants and golf shirts…very casual. This was totally unexpected. Now I am not sure what to wear for the second interview since everyone was so casual.

I have never had to go through a second interview especially not over lunch.


The Career Doctor responds:
In conducting research for a book on executive interviewing my partner Katharine Hansen reinforced her belief that it is always better to err on the side of conservatism. The hiring decision-makers she interviewed for the book said that no matter what the dress code at the company it is best to dress conservatively at the interview. If your conservative attire had been a big problem at the first interview you would not have been invited for a second one. Although you could probably get away with a conservative pantsuit for the lunch you can’t go wrong by again wearing a skirted suit.

If you really feel you’d be uncomfortable with another skirted suit — based on the casual atmosphere you observed — do you know anyone in the company whose opinion you could ask for? Is there an exec assistant at the same level as this position whom you could ask? If not I’d go with the skirted suit.