How To Nail A Startup Interview: 'We Don't Care What You Look Like, Just Don't Smell'


Photo: Flickr/Dave Fayram

So you landed a job interview at a startup. Now what?What exactly are you supposed to wear? A suit? Or just jeans and T-shirt?

A bunch of startup guys chimed in on Quora about this very topic. Here is what they had to say.

HauteLook’s Greg Bettinelli wrote:

I did attend my first interview with HauteLook wearing a Liverpool soccer jersey and 7forallmankind jeans with large holes near both knees.  This is not advised :)

Foursquare’s Tristan Walker wrote:

Whatever everyone else is wearing IMO.

A Palantir engineer wrote:

As long as you don’t smell bad, we don’t really care. CEO Matthew Roche wrote:

  • Sales and public execs – Sport coat and pressed pants on a call.  Jeans or khakis and a shirt with a collar otherwise
  • Marketing – Dress for the event when you are out of the office.  Dinners should have clothes for dining out, shows should be a collared shirt or the company uniform if you are doing booth duty.  Look put together inside the office.
  • Product Management/Marketing – Patagonia/REI, jeans/khakis
  • Client Service – Collared shirt and nicer pants at the client. Jeans and a collared shirt inside.
  • Engineering – Wear clothing

Roche added, “these are obviously male clothing recommendations.”

Gowalla co-founder Josh Williams wrote:

If it turns out the startup is super casual, you’re fine. You’ve got jeans and a casual shirt on beneath the sport jacket. You won’t be construed as stuck up or pretentious.

If it’s a bit more formal, you’ve got a jacket on and you’ll show the interviewer that you’re taking this seriously. At this point your portfolio, resume and personality need to be doing the heavy lifting.

Final Advice: Skip the light jeans and wear the dark ones

SeatMe founder Jordan Mendelson wrote:

I have a very specific set of clothes I wear when I’m doing everything from meeting VCs to talking to potential business partners. I go preppy. Collared shirt, v-neck cashmere sweater, well fitting jeans and nice shoes. Often paired with a jacket which I either take off or keep on depending on how formal the setting I’m walking into is.

Yammer’s Matt Knopp wrote:

Come to us in jeans and a tee, just make sure they’re clean. 

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