informational interview - what to wear?

seville's picture
Rank: King Kong | 1,344

During my summer internship, I have built strong connections with my alumni by having informational phone conversations and whatnot. Consequently, I have scheduled to meet them in person for some coffee. I have met 2 of them today and I just wore business casual. (Nice button shirt and dresspants/slacks) Did I shatter my ideal impression to them? Do they expect me to wear professional attire?

What do you think? What have you worn in informational interviews or 'casual' meets if you will.

Comments (105)

Aug 15, 2012

You're fine, stop worrying. Wearing a tie to a 'casual' meet would just take away anything casual from it.

Aug 15, 2012

I would suit up. It rarely hurts to be a little overdressed.

Aug 15, 2012
Aug 15, 2012

There is no way to know for sure. I had an informational with a HF manager at his office so I wore a suit. I get the office and hes in jeans and a nice button down untucked. He was like, dude why the suit lulz. I felt kind of stupid. On the other hand you could have someone be offended that you're not dressed to the nines. Try to get a feel for the type of person you will be meeting or just over dress and laugh about it if it comes up in conversation.

Aug 15, 2012

Always did b-cas when I was networking during my internship and nothing was ever brought up about it.

Aug 15, 2012
notaspammer:

Always did b-cas when I was networking during my internship and nothing was ever brought up about it.

Did you get a job? Nobody tells you they didn't like your jorts, they just don't hire you.

By the way, I wear business casual 80+ percent of the time, so it wouldn't bother me, but I also wouldn't be bothered if someone wore a suit. I would know they were at least taking it seriously and/or pretending to care.

Aug 15, 2012
SirTradesaLot:
notaspammer:

Always did b-cas when I was networking during my internship and nothing was ever brought up about it.

Did you get a job? Nobody tells you they didn't like your jorts, they just don't hire you.

By the way, I wear business casual 80+ percent of the time, so it wouldn't bother me, but I also wouldn't be bothered if someone wore a suit. I would know they were at least taking it seriously and/or pretending to care.

Ha, good point. Not yet. The people I met with were wearing the same thing though and encouraged me to forward my resume/keep in touch, so I doubt it mattered.

Best Response
Aug 15, 2012

Just wear a suit and say you came from your grandma's funeral. They will feel sorry for you and just give you the job on the spot. Works every time.

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Aug 15, 2012
BTbanker:

Just wear a suit and say you came from your grandma's funeral. They will feel sorry for you and just give you the job on the spot. Works every time.

I laughed while reading this. And I'm currently sitting on a toilet.

Aug 16, 2012
Ace6904:

And I'm currently sitting on a toilet.

Seems to be the trend on this forum.

Aug 15, 2012

Matter of fact... I followed up saying thank you with one of the alumni I met today and he responded in a very friendly tone saying that in the future I should wear professional attire during informational interviews. He was very friendly and told me this as an advice. I don't know how I should interpret this despite his positive vibe during the meet up.

Aug 15, 2012

http://www.filmforager.com/2009/12/orgazmo-1997.html
Wear this.
Image might not be safe for work.

Aug 15, 2012

IMO... Always dress like you want the job. Regardless of how informal the interview is.

-Gorilla A.

"I've forgotten who I had lunch with earlier, and even more important, where."
-- Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho

Aug 15, 2012

I have an informational on Friday -- was talking to the MD over the phone and said "don't you dare wear a tie" jokingly of course.

Not going to disappoint ;)

Aug 18, 2012

i'd recommend suit up too ...but really have gone to over 50% of my informal in biz casual and i doubt it affected anything

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Aug 18, 2012

Do you think it depends on the level they're at? Like if you're meeting with an MD, suit up, but with an analyst, maybe only business casual? It seems like very mixed responses, I guess in the end it's not that big of a deal.

"I did it for me...I liked it...I was good at it. And I was really... I was alive."

Aug 18, 2012

I've had dozens of informational interviews and I went with a full suit + tie for all of them. Everyone I talked to did as well. One or two analysts left their jackets in the office but for the most part everyone was dressed up

Aug 18, 2012

I would go business casual. I have even had interviews at top consulting firms where they asked us to wear business casual over suits in for the interviews, and most of these offices only wear biz casual anyway so worst case you'll fit in.

Aug 18, 2012

business casual is probably the best choice unless it's an extremely conservative firm.

Aug 18, 2012

I think business casual would be fine - for me, that's just a suit minus the tie.

A quick heads up, unless you're sure that she knows its an informational interview, be prepared to answer some tough questions yourself.
It may have been because it was set up through someone else, but I had a similar meeting at a boutique where the MD started asking me fairly tough questions on M&A that I hadn't even thought to prepare for (he must have just took it that I was looking to work at their office, the guy who got him to meet me had told me otherwise).

Damn you Rodger!

My WSO Blog

Aug 18, 2012

Yea, I agree with the posts. Business casual. Suit without the tie should be fine. Think about it this way, if you didn't wear a suit, then they'd think you weren't taking it very seriously, and that would be way worse. Especially at a top tier and with somebody high up there, then you definitely want to have a bare minimum of biz casual. Good luck! (I got an info interview this week too :P)

Aug 18, 2012

You're meeting at her office so err on the side of formality, i.e. wear a suit & tie. I'm not a consultant though, but I assume that at the very least the Partners will be dressed for business. Maybe the US is more informal as well. Perhaps the consultants will give you different advice.

What do you guys mean by business casual? Suit sans tie?

Aug 18, 2012
Relinquis:

You're meeting at her office so err on the side of formality, i.e. wear a suit & tie. I'm not a consultant though, but I assume that at the very least the Partners will be dressed for business. Maybe the US is more informal as well. Perhaps the consultants will give you different advice.

What do you guys mean by business casual? Suit sans tie?

Generally, I would have agreed with everyone who said business casual, but since you're meeting at the office I would agree with Relinquis and opt for suit and tie.

Aug 18, 2012

Business casual (suit without the tie). It'll make you look like you aren't necessarily treating this as an interview, but that this is semi-important. Just wearing a shirt and trousers is probably an office thing, but for the info interview go suit without the tie.

I agree with Dufus. She probably doesn't get too many kids who are from her school contacting her, so she may think you're interested. All questions are on the table. Worst case scenario she asks technical questions. Could happen though.

Aug 18, 2012

it's an informational. don't take any risks. you wouldnt lose w/ a suit.

Aug 18, 2012

I'd wear a suit. She's high up at a good firm, and there's a decent chance that you'll get introduced to a couple other people she works with. At least that's been my experience. You can't go wrong with a suit.

Aug 18, 2012

Business casual means suit sans tie and jacket.

Aug 18, 2012
IlliniProgrammer:

Business casual means suit sans tie and jacket.

I wouldn't go to a meeting with a business person at their office without a jacket.

Aug 18, 2012

That's because you work abroad and in IBD.

In New York, "business casual" means dress shirt and dark slacks. Wear a fleece if it's cold. Actually, in Chicago, "business casual" means any collared shirt and khakis or dark slacks.

For a college student not knowing the dress code, the risk of being a douche or being underdressed is best mitigated by wearing a collared shirt and dark slacks if this is New York. A college kid does not need to wear a suit- or jacket- to the office for a friendly visit with an alumn.

Aug 18, 2012

IP,

Thanks for clarifying, but the impression that i got was that the OP is seeking employment at said consulting firm or at least a referral. Surely wearing a suit jacket or at least a blazer would be more respectful, wouldn't it?

Aug 18, 2012
Relinquis:

IP,

Thanks for clarifying, but the impression that i got was that the OP is seeking employment at said consulting firm or at least a referral. Surely wearing a suit jacket or at least a blazer would be more respectful, wouldn't it?

You would be right for IBD, but elsewhere at a business casual firm, it's waay over the top and risks coming off a bit douchey. Trading floor, people barely wear ties let alone suit jackets- you would never wear a jacket to the trading floor as a college kid, except for a formal interview.

The way you respect the people you are meeting with is that you follow the dress code. You do not come down to the trading floor wearing some suit jacket when we are all wearing dress shirts and maybe a tie depending on how much folks feel like complying with "business formal". Heck, we've even taught most of our bankers to leave the jacket upstairs. And those who haven't learned tend to learn quickly.

If you aren't there for a formal interview, you want to match them. Cardinal rule of meeting with folks. If everyone is wearing business formal, wear business formal. Otherwise, follow their dress code. IIRC, Deloitte, McKinsey, and Accenture are business casual and their recruiters wore that to all of the career fairs and recruiting events. Best for OP to check what this firm's dress code is and show up wearing that.

Aug 18, 2012

Go business casual, consultants very rarely wear business formal, especially on an average day in the office. Now if this was a full-fledged interview for FT or SA then you would need to suit up.

Aug 18, 2012

Interesting feedback IP. I suppose it's a cultural thing. I've always thought it more appropriate to err on the side of being more formally dressed than the person I was meeting if they were senior to me in age / status.

I've never heard of wearing a suit as being douchey in a business environment (particularly in finance), especially if you are a visitor or someone who wants to do business with the person. Even when I've met with eccentric top Hedge Fund managers or real estate guys at their offices they were in jeans & floral shirts whereas I was in my grey chalk stripe suit. Of course, if I actually worked there I would dress similar to their culture.

The senior guys I've met at trading floors at the large banks have always worn suits, but I was usually the client in those circumstances and it was usually outside of the US.

Interesting to see the sartorial differences between the US / rest of the world.

Aug 18, 2012

Thanks. I'm going to go suit no tie--I'll be coming from another professional job, so I feel like it's excusable.

Aug 18, 2012

With or without pocket square?

Only kidding!

Aug 18, 2012

Suit without a tie is a good call. General rule in consulting is to always dress a bit nicer than your client, and that's what she is to you now.

Only thing I've ever thought to myself when I showed up to an informational interview (last time this happened I was in jeans) and the requestor was in a suit is "Well, at least they're serious"

Also, you can always take off a jacket, tie, etc if you feel overdressed.

Aug 18, 2012

Out of curiosity, how did you go about sending this e-mail and landing an informational interview? I plan on doing the same but am worried about just cold e-mailing a partner or even recruiter and annoying them.

Aug 18, 2012
oowij:

Out of curiosity, how did you go about sending this e-mail and landing an informational interview? I plan on doing the same but am worried about just cold e-mailing a partner or even recruiter and annoying them.

My college has a database of alumni organized by industry and position. You have to choose to be part of this database, so it wasn't a completely cold email. But even if it was a cold email I would have done it anyway. It would be very difficult to actually annoy any of them unless you started pummeling them with email...worst case scenario is you just get ignored.

Aug 18, 2012

There's always an excuse to be over dressed, rarely one to be under dressed. Look the part, be part the part!

I used to always go business casual to these things, until one MD at an MBB invited me for coffee and I ended up being interviewed for an hour and went through a case study.

Aug 18, 2012

yep

Aug 18, 2012

suit and tie

Aug 18, 2012

You can never go wrong by over-dressing - you can always take your tie off. However, you can go very very wrong by under-dressing.

Aug 18, 2012
BarronWall:

You can never go wrong by over-dressing - you can always take your tie off. However, you can go very very wrong by under-dressing.

This.

Aug 18, 2012

The general rule of thumb is as follows:

- If you are asking/looking for something (i.e. money, a job, advice, a mandate to represent a client, etc.) always wear a suit and tie

- If you are the "money" you will be funnier, more intelligent, and more handsome than you have ever been before so you can wear whatever the F you want. The dynamic is even more palpable for guys who have spent a great deal of time on the sellside and then move over to the buyside to manage money.

Aug 18, 2012
junkbondswap:

The general rule of thumb is as follows:

- If you are asking/looking for something (i.e. money, a job, advice, a mandate to represent a client, etc.) always wear a suit and tie

- If you are the "money" you will be funnier, more intelligent, and more handsome than you have ever been before so you can wear whatever the F you want. The dynamic is even more palpable for guys who have spent a great deal of time on the sellside and then move over to the buyside to manage money.

Yeah, a buy side guy can literally show up in his undies and the suited sell side guy will still compliment him on the quality of the underwear fabric.

    • 1
Aug 18, 2012
Going Concern:
junkbondswap:

The general rule of thumb is as follows:

- If you are asking/looking for something (i.e. money, a job, advice, a mandate to represent a client, etc.) always wear a suit and tie

- If you are the "money" you will be funnier, more intelligent, and more handsome than you have ever been before so you can wear whatever the F you want. The dynamic is even more palpable for guys who have spent a great deal of time on the sellside and then move over to the buyside to manage money.

Yeah, a buy side guy can literally show up in his undies and the suited sell side guy will still compliment him on the quality of the underwear fabric.

What the fuk is wrong with you kids nowadays? When interviewing in any capacity, WEAR A SUIT. Holy hell, is there no common sense coming out of the education system nowadays?

Aug 18, 2012

depends: if it's during the work day and you're confident they're wearing the same thing, do it. I'd basically dress to what you think they're wearing. if it's a Saturday morning coffee in San Francisco, this will be different attire than a 3pm meeting in a MDs office in NYC, catch my drift? when I was in undergrad, I met a Wharton grad who started his own PE firm at a coffee shop on a weekend, he was in chinos and a button down, I opted for a suit but no tie, stuck out like a sore thumb. great interview, but the first thing he said was "why are you wearing a suit, you didn't have to do that!"

also, if meeting socially (not in an office), buy one of those 8x5 moleskines, very discreet but gets the job done.

Aug 18, 2012

I would wear a suit on most occasions. I agree with the previous post that you probably should dress business casual if you're meeting on a weekend, but if it's during the week, even after business hours, you should wear a suit. Make sure it's navy or grey and that it fits well. I can't tell you how many undergrads come through in their ill-fitting black suits with square toe shoes and I can't help but judge them for their appearance. How you look is going to be important but being very well prepared and fully engaged in the conversation will be key to landing that job/internship.

Aug 18, 2012

Shirt, Slacks. No tie, no jacket.

Aug 18, 2012

wear a suit dude, it is the ONLY thing to do ... trust me

#

I am the Man. I Have the Plan. Follow Me to the Promised Land.

Aug 18, 2012

Wear business casual. Colorful/non-plain shirt (no light blue/white) and possibly a sports jacket. You might also look good in khakis.

Aug 18, 2012

Suit trousers and shirt - no jacket, no tie. Don't wear khakis - it's always better to be slightly overdressed for an interview than underdressed.

Aug 18, 2012

I can't wear khakis at work, so right now I'm thinking of going with fp175's suggestion (which is what I wear to work everyday anyway)

Anyone else?

Aug 18, 2012

i second fp175's recommendation since this is an informational interview: slacks & shirt - no jacket, no tie

Aug 18, 2012

I'd usually vote for a suit, but in this case, i third fp175's recommendation

Aug 18, 2012

I'll jump on fp175's bandwagon

Aug 18, 2012

there's a fine line between looking professional/respectful and looking like "you're trying too hard". I would probably wear a tie but no suit jacket.

Aug 18, 2012

guys i'm not sure why i even care, which i don't but OP, please, do yourself a favor and buy a fucking suit and show you are serious

anyone that owns khakis should honestly throw them out, please, they are so 1990's GAP

all the people going with fp175 (great username btw, not) are morons :)

#

I am the Man. I Have the Plan. Follow Me to the Promised Land.

Aug 18, 2012

I fifth fp175 - no khakis, no tie.

Aug 18, 2012
agldro:

I fifth fp175 - no khakis, no tie.

Thanks for reviving an 8 month old thread for that

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Aug 18, 2012

khakis and a polo

Aug 18, 2012

Try to get a feel for how formal the guy's company is. If you are meeting him during business hours, I would wear a suit, but maybe no tie. It's better to be a bit overdressed, than look like a slob.

Aug 18, 2012

^^^ I would mirror what he would be wearing. Although it's better to look overdressed than a slob, it would also be weird if you rocked a suit while he's in jeans... at a coffee shop. It's too much and it appears you're trying too hard.

If the guy works in jeans when he's not at the client -> nice jeans and button down or polo

If the guy does biz casual sans jacket -> slacks/khakis and button down.
If the guy works in a suit sans tie (can't imagine this is the case for consulting, esp on west coast) -> suit sans tie.

My guess is that you're fine with either of the two above. You can always take your jacket off.

If the guy works in suit/tie (see comment above) -> suit and tie

Aug 18, 2012

Jeans and Jacket with a sport shirt. Works for me.

Mr.Mathie | Ideas are nothing without execution - Jeux de Commerce Central

Aug 18, 2012

To be honest you really can't be over-dressed, and if you are it won't hurt you. I would go suit and tie.

Aug 18, 2012

If you're on their premises, then go with a suit & tie. If off-site, then a jacket without tie should suffice.

Aug 18, 2012

Ok I'm going to be in their building so I guess I'll go with a tie, any recommendations for a good tie with a light grey suit/white shirt?

Aug 18, 2012

blue tie

Aug 18, 2012
KingCudi:

Ok I'm going to be in their building so I guess I'll go with a tie, any recommendations for a good tie with a light grey suit/white shirt?

I like purple/lavender ties w/light grey

Aug 18, 2012
Cruncharoo:

blue tie

yep, blue works well with light grey

Aug 18, 2012

I am assuming the interview is at the trader's place of work. I would wear slacks, a button down with no tie and a jacket. I really think wearing a suit to an informational is a little too much.

I went to a Bear Stearns informational meeting wearing something similar and I ended up with a SA interview. Maybe it can bring some luck to you too!

Make sure you brings extra copies of you resume. Don't be caught without them!

Good luck to you.

Aug 18, 2012

If it's NY, wear a suit and tie.

Aug 18, 2012

@jman: good point

Aug 18, 2012

It is NY and at the workplace. JPM to be exact.

should I really wear a suit? or are you guys messing around lol I can't tell.

Aug 18, 2012

Now that I know it's JPM in NY, I would definitely go with the suit (i am not messing with you). Good luck!

Aug 18, 2012

Thanks.

Aug 18, 2012

You can never go wrong wearing a suit and tie, even if they say business casual. Better to overdress than under dress. If you get there and feel seriously uncomfortable, it's easy enough to take your tie off. But you won't get knocked for wearing the full get-up.

Aug 18, 2012

This. When in doubt, throw on the suit.

Aug 18, 2012

This. When in doubt, throw on the suit.

Aug 18, 2012

Awesome, Thanks!

Aug 18, 2012

anyone?

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." - Albert Einstein

Aug 18, 2012

Suit up

Aug 18, 2012

What's the venue, and what city are you in? I'd generally feel weird suiting up for getting coffee with a senior consultant (I imagine someone a couple years out of MBA) in San Francisco, for example.

Aug 18, 2012

it is in chicago. i can see the one with the senior consultant being more causal, however with the director, this guy brings people into the firm, suit would be more acceptable, even for coffee correct?

"Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." - Albert Einstein

Aug 18, 2012

lose the jacket?

Aug 1, 2017

yeah, obviously.

Aug 1, 2017

YES

Aug 1, 2017

Better to over-dress than show up in your favorite booty shorts. Go with the suit and tie.

Aug 1, 2017
Comment
Aug 1, 2017
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"I'm the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy."

Aug 1, 2017
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Banking.

Aug 1, 2017
Aug 1, 2017