I’ve been having some great conversations over the last few months about the future of work and what needs to happen in order to create sustainable futures for our companies and our people.  And what tends to happen when you start looking at the future and really testing the boundaries is how the small things that we do now, out of habit, don’t always reflect what we want in the future, but we realise however they could be stunting our growth.

One example of this – the interview suit.

On Monday I spent the day with some forward thinking CEO’s and as we got onto the subject of what needs to change in recruitment, it became apparent that one way in which many employers hide their true identity is by moving away from more casual workwear to suits (and ties) on interview day.  The CEO’s stated that it’s so obvious when their managers are interviewing because their whole appearance changes.  And it doesn’t reflect who they are as a business at all, because nobody wears a suit in the office.

I’ve been discussing this with some of my HR peers over a number of months and took the opportunity to discuss it again over dinner last night, and it opened up very different opinions.

A suit for the interview can show the level of importance you place on the process – was one view.  Not being authentically you or representing your brand if you opt for the suit – was another view.

With many of the clients we are working with at Chrysalis at the moment, suits are absolutely a thing of the past.  More people are moving to a less formal workwear approach and a handful of our clients wear jeans and a t-shirt, always.  These clients would never opt for a suit for interview, because it isn’t part of their DNA, it’s not something they would ever do, and their clients, customers and suppliers know this about them.  So rocking up to an interview or any other important meeting for that matter may cause confusion, and, stop them being authentic in what they do.

I remember going to Brené Brown’s workshop in London a few years ago and she talked about two of the meetings she had attended that week in the City with two large financial services companies – she went as authentically her in her denim jacket and jeans.  Although she told us that she had doubted going as herself when she entered the building, but knew she had to show her authenticity in order to talk about being authentically vulnerable.

So should the interview suit be a thing of the past?

Does the interview suit show the importance of the meeting?

Does the interview suit provide a suit of armour that protects us from being our authentic brand?

Does wearing a suit to interview damage your brand and your retention levels if it moves you away from showing the true nature of your business?

Share your views below.


Kelly Swingler is Founder of Chrysalis Consulting, The People and Change Experts and was appointed at the UK’s Youngest HR Director.  Kelly is passionate about helping people find bespoke people solutions to suit the needs of their business. Kelly is the author of Fostering a Mindset for Career SuccessAGILE HR and what’s your excuse for not Overcoming Stress.