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Listener Question: Abigail asks about Interview Attire

Published 9/28/2016

In today's question, Abigail asks about appropriate interview attire! Ask your question at developertea@gmail.com.

Today's episode is sponsored by Zendesk! With Zendesk, you can get feedback from your customers without making them leave your application, leading to faster resolution times and happier users! Check it out at Zendesk.com/developertea today!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and in today's episode I answer Abigail's question about nonchalant interview attire. Today's episode is brought to you by SPECED out of them. If you're a designer or developer go and check out the other awesome content on SPEC. Let's jump into this question from Abigail. I recently started listening to your podcast and it is saving my brain. This is probably one of my favorite compliments that I've ever gotten on this show. I am enrolled in a coding bootcamp in LA and I live in San Diego so my commute is a grueling 2-3 hour or a deal listening to this podcast really helps me get through that infamous LA traffic. Anyway I'm approaching the end of the bootcamp and therefore heading into the job market. I manage to secure a quote-unquote meeting with a company in New York City that does some really cool stuff that aligns well with my interests. They are hiring both full time developer positions and intern positions and I reached out simply to start a conversation with them. I mentioned I would be in New York City and they suggested that I quote-unquote stop by. This doesn't seem to be a formal interview but they know that I'm interested in working for them and I do have a time slot scheduled in their calendar so it's not as informal as just stopping by. My question is actually what on earth do I wear to this meeting? I have a suit but it's not a formal interview. Will that seem like overkill? What if the dress code there is super casual and I show up wearing a suit? It seems so silly but I want to feel reassured about what is an okay thing to wear to a not a real interview. What would you expect someone to wear to a not a real interview with you? Again, thanks for your podcast. It has been so helpful and useful to me. Abigail, thank you so much for all of the kind compliments. I'm really excited to say that I actually wrote Abigail back after this email. I took a little bit longer to get back to Abigail and by the time that I did get back to her, she had gone to this meeting and we'll talk a little bit more about what Abigail chose to do and the ultimate outcome from her decision. But I do want to go ahead and give a few pieces of advice for those of you who are meeting with a company for the first time, particularly if it is a nonchalant interview. This is not an uncommon thing that Abigail has experienced, especially in today's market. A lot of companies who hire Developer Today make that first meeting feel relatively informal. Additionally, there's a lot of companies that don't necessarily have a specific job opening that you're applying to. In other words, they kind of always are hiring. This informal discussion with potential future developers really is always going on. Naturally, these conversations end up being a little bit more informal because they happen so often. Having a relationship with potential future hires is a huge value add for companies. Abigail, you did the right thing in going ahead and scheduling this meetup, even if it wasn't considered a formal interview. This is the right direction to go if you're wanting to be hired by a company, whatever opportunity that you have to meet with them to learn more about them, you should take it. I'm going to come back after a sponsor break and give you a few pieces of advice for those of you who are meeting with a company for the first time. Today's episode is sponsored by Zendesk. If you have ever written an application that didn't have any flaws in it, then I want to hire you today. The reality is every application has flaws. Maybe it doesn't have a flaw today, but it does tomorrow because of a new software release or a security problem, for example. Your applications will always have flaws and sometimes, unfortunately, your customers or your users are going to experience those flaws. They're going to run into bugs. They're going to have frustrating problems to deal with in your application, both on the web and in a native mobile app. Now how do you deal with it when a customer hits a frustrating bug? Well, a fantastic answer to this question is to use Zendesk. Your user doesn't ever have to leave your application. Now, compare that with a link that takes you out to an email client where you have to actually email support and then wait on your inbox and then eventually your customers are going to get frustrated enough that they leave your application altogether and they don't come back. Instead, Zendesk allows you to have native help in your application for your customers. You can use their iOS UI, it's built-in, or you can use an SDK and build your own API. The best part is all of this comes for free with Zendesk. Go and check it out Zendesk.com slash Developer Tea. Thank you to Zendesk for sponsoring today's episode. What do you wear to an informal interview to a non-shelont meet-up? It's on the calendar, Abigail says. It's not so non-shelont that it could or could not happen. They've made space for this to happen. In other words, they're going to take time out of their day where they otherwise could be producing something, but they could otherwise be meeting with another person, for example. Instead, they're choosing to meet with you. You should always take this kind of thing seriously. My first piece of advice though is don't ever wear something that is out of character for yourself. Don't ever wear something that is out of character for yourself. The reason for this is because the clothes you wear are only a part of your appearance. Your demeanor and your attitude and your comfortability, all of these things are going to have a large effect on how people perceive you. If you are uncomfortable, it will absolutely show. So don't just try to fit in. Don't wear something that's way outside of your comfort range at the top end. Certainly, not at the bottom end either. Wear something you are comfortable in and confident in. Now, a quick side note. Don't take this to one extreme of comfortability and expect to be able to wear your sweatpants and a ragged old t-shirt. Don't expect to be able to wear that and assume that you're going to be respected in that environment. The reality is, even if you are being as expressive and as honest about your personality as you possibly can be by wearing whatever it is that you feel like wearing that day, if that potential employer sees that you are somehow inappropriately dressed for the situation, well, they're probably not going to appreciate that very much. There is an old saying that says, dress for the job that you want. Oh, this is actually our second point. Lesson something that fits naturally at the company you're meeting at. In many ways, this process is the same as if you were going to an event in town with your friends. Find out what the company finds appropriate, just like you would find out what kind of dress is typically worn at a restaurant in town. This may take some googling. It may take looking through a few Instagram shots of the people who work at this particular company. If you are applying to work at, for example, a fashion company, and it's likely that you want to step up a level or two and pick something that's a little bit more modern. Don't go overboard or else it may look like you are out of your element, as in the previous point. If you are to meet with an investment company, for example, a banking company, it's a little bit more traditional. You may consider wearing something that is more traditional, something like a business suit would be more suitable in that situation. Now, I do want you to take all of what I'm saying in today's episode with a grain of salt. I am absolutely not a fashion consultant. At Whiteboard, we typically wear button-up shirts with jeans, and we have a belt and decent shoes. This is our common everyday wear. So if somebody were to show up for an interview and those things, then that's appropriate. If someone showed up for an interview and something that was slightly nicer than that, then we're certainly not going to be mad at them. We're not going to be frustrated with them. And we definitely wouldn't discount them as unprofessional or being tone deaf to our culture. Most people who go to interviews, they end up dressing up a little bit more than they normally would. So this is the catch all. This is tip number three. When all else fails, go with something that is business casual. What is business casual? For me, it would be slacks, a button-up shirt, probably a long sleeve button-up shirt, and a tie. As a general rule, this is going to be acceptable in most business scenarios. Now in some places, I may be seeing a little bit out of place, but usually I would be able to find out that that was going to be out of place in advance. You can also, Abigail, you can also call ahead to this place and quite simply ask, what is the appropriate attire for your office? This kind of question, it often feels a little bit hard to ask, but ultimately when the potential employer receives this question, they see it as proper preparation for that meeting. So ultimately, Abigail, it's important that you wear something that is not out of character for yourself, wearing something that is appropriate to the place that you are going to, and if all else fails, wear something that is business casual. This is kind of a middle of the road, generally acceptable attire. Now, Abigail actually wrote me back, she let me know that she did go through with the interview, and she actually decided to wear her business suit. She went all out and wore her business suit. She ended up getting an internship. So there's some proof in the putting for those of you who are looking for practical advice. If all else fails, going towards the nicer side is probably not going to serve you wrong, both as an employer, from me as an employer, and also from Abigail's actual experience, leaning on the nicer side, leaning on the more formal side is probably going to be a good idea. Thank you, Abigail, so much for sending in this question and for sticking with the show on your long commute to Los Angeles. Thank you to everyone who's listening to this episode, whether you're in the car or in the gym or you're out walking. I appreciate every minute that you spend listening to Developer Tea. Thank you so much. If you're enjoying today's episode and you don't want to miss out on future episodes of Developer Tea, make sure you go and subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use, then every episode will automatically be delivered to your device. Thank you so much for listening. Thank you again to Zendesk for sponsoring Developer Tea. Get your users the help they need to get through the problems that they have in your application. You can make it native with Zendesk. Go check out Zendesk.com slash Developer Tea. Thank you again for listening to today's episode and until next time, enjoy your tea.