Home Dressing For the Startup Interview: In Defense of the Suit

Dressing For the Startup Interview: In Defense of the Suit

If there’s a workplace environment that’s as casual as the tech world, it’s Hollywood. And in that informal setting, Paul Feig is an anachronism. Every day, the director of TV shows like Freaks and Geeks and The Office wears a suit and tie to work.

Last week Put This On (“a Web series about dressing like a grownup”) interviewed Feig, and his answer to the question “Why a suit?” is applicable to anyone who’s sitting down for a job interview: It’s about projecting competence and a sense of power.

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Feig was a T-shirt-and-jeans guy up until he created the acclaimed Freaks and Geeks. It was around that time that he realized that in meetings with studio executives, the casually dressed people were being pigeonholed.

“I always hated the feeling of being identifiable as the creative type in the room. They would always sit you on a couch that was lower than everybody else,” he said. “I didn’t like the power dynamic of it.”

The show’s host, Jesse Thorn, acknowledges that a suit isn’t always the best option for an interview.

You’re not necessarily dressing to be the best dressed guy in the room, you’re dressing to project competence, he says. And that can take various forms: “If you’re interviewing to be an ad creative, it’s not the time to wear your funniest T-shirt, it’s probably the day to wear your simplest.”

But there’s no denying that when you dress in a suit, you’re going to project confidence.

“Somehow getting ready this way and being dressed up makes you feel… It’s like when I look at the president, I think, ‘The president looks like he’s in charge – he’s wearing a suit and tie,'” Feig says.

Photo by Martin Boulanger

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