Q&A: What to Wear to an Engineering Interview

May 16th, 2007

Fitted Dotted Diamond Dress Shirt at Banana RepublicQ:  I’ve got an interview at a software startup next week.  What should I wear?  I hear that the company is very informal, but I think I should dress up anyways.

A:  Technology companies have a long history of casual dress.  There, jeans and a t-shirt are everyday style–they aren’t reserved for Casual Fridays.

The ideal interview outfit not only makes you look like the professional you are, but also respects this casual dress tradition.  Mix casual and formal elements–such as a button-down shirt (remember to iron it!) and jeans.

Feeling stuck?  Here’s a foolproof interview outfit: Button-down Shirt + Colored Undershirt + Dark Rinse Jeans + Loafers.  Bonus points for you if you choose a patterned–instead of striped–button-down shirt. 

Here’s 2 extra tips for your interview:

(1) No Suits Allowed.  Should you wear a suit to an engineering interview, don’t be surprised if you’re weeded out as a "poor culture fit." 

(2) Wear Good Shoes:  Even though your outfit may be casual in feel, dress it up with your Good shoes.  If they need a pick-me-up, remember to shine them pre-interview.

Pictured: Fitted Dotted Diamond Dress Shirt | $78 at Banana Republic.

Style question?  We’ve got answers.  E-mail us at tips at omiru dot com, or leave us a comment with your question.

Entry Filed under: Men's,Q&A

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mat  |  May 16th, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    Why pattern over stripes? If you only have stripes, would you recommend thin or thick stripes? Thanks.


  • 2. Trisha  |  May 16th, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    We like pattern over stripes because it’s less generic. Pattern shows that you’re unique and it’ll help you stand out from the crowd. Everyone and their father wears the Vertically Striped Shirt.

    As for the thick vs. thin stripe question, it’s really personal preference–and it depends on your body type. I happen to like the look of thin stripes. Thick stripes can work as well, though, and are nice and bold on men with average to athletic builds.

  • 3. Jane Sung  |  May 17th, 2007 at 10:57 am

    I’m just wondering. How did you know the question-poser is a man? There are a lot of female engineers.

  • 4. Trisha  |  May 17th, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Hi Jane,

    The name of the question-poser (which we don’t publish) indicated his gender.

    Yes, there are a lot of female engineers…and I wish there were more.


  • 5. Mat  |  May 17th, 2007 at 6:28 pm


    Maybe you should give some suggestions on what female engineers should wear to an interview too. Ya know, just in case Jane was wondering! :)


  • 6. Sasha  |  May 17th, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    Just thought I’d add my 2 cents:

    For a company that is very casual (“California Casual”), your advice is spot on, especially for a small company. But, as a software engineer myself, I can say that you would definitely want to wear a suit to most software/engineering interviews. My company is casual (jeans for all offices except corporate (business casual)), but expects interviewees to be dressed up (suits). If you are not sure what to wear, a good tip is to call the company’s HR department (assuming they have one) 😉

  • 7. Trisha  |  May 18th, 2007 at 3:24 am

    Great idea to call the HR department, Sasha.

    You’re right–this advice is geared towards uber-casual (or California Casual) workplace. Startups generally fall into this category. For more established companies, however, a slightly more dressy outfit might be in order. It all depends on the culture of the organization.

    Thanks, Mat–will have to do another post for the female engineers out there :)

  • 8. Omiru.com: Style for All&hellip  |  May 31st, 2007 at 3:11 am

    […] May 31st, 2007 Q:  Maybe you should give some suggestions on what female engineers should wear to an interview too. A:  We recently ran an article advising men what to wear to an engineering interview at a technology startup, and we got a request to give some advice to women engineers.Like we said in the men’s article, the ideal interview outfit blends the professionalism required of a job interview with the casual spirit of a tech startup.Here’s three foolproof interview outfits:(1)  Button-down Shirt + Dark Rinse Jeans. The women’s version of the men’s foolproof outfit.(2)  Cardigan Twinset + High Waist Trousers.On-trend trousers paired with a business casual classic.(3) Cropped Jacket + Knit Shirt + Dark Rinse Jeans.Mix it up with a standout structured jacket (like the one pictured at left) and the most formal of jeans.Finish off each outfit with a structured handbag and a pair of low heels or flats.Pictured: J Crew Linen-Cotton Colette Jacket | $235 at J Crew.Style question?  We’ve got answers.  E-mail us at tips at omiru dot com, or leave us a comment with your question. […]

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