In short: Yes—the way you "dress" for the interview will affect your interview outcome; however, the full answer is a bit more nuanced.
tl;dr Dress for the role, company culture, comfort, and confidence. Not a suit and tie person? Totally fine—look around to see what others are wearing who work there. Dressing for the culture, with your own personal flair, is way more important than wearing a suit and tie.
Detailed answer: "Dressing" for an interview is more than about wearing a suit and tie—it is about dressing yourself to be who you are, in the way that makes you most comfortable and confident, and in a way that matches or elevates the culture you are interviewing in. Let me share a few personal examples here—both as an interviewee and interviewer.
- Deloitte (one of the big 4), is famous for being a suit and tie company and culture; however, I am not a suit and tie person—never have been. I walked into my manager-level interview in business casual attire with my own personal touch as an edit: colorful slacks, a button-down shirt, and a sweater. I was arguable the only candidate interviewing that day and, while I do not know the outcome of the other candidates who were interviewing, I received—and accepted—an offer. Did it matter that I was not in a suit and tie? Absolutely not! That said, I dressed in a way that made me feel confident, in a way that I was most comfortable in, and in a way that was not too far away (up or down) from the cultural norm of where I interviewed. This means that the way I "dressed"—inside and out—absolutely impacted my interview outcome because it allowed me to be who I am in a way that matched with the company.
- While at a major pharmaceutical company, I interviewed people all the time as a manager or above and saw people dress from casual, to business casual, to business, and even beyond. Not once did someone's actual clothing make a difference in my interview outcome; however, the way the person "dressed" for the interview—meaning how they presented themselves—did impact the interview outcome. Those who dressed in a suit and tie, whom were comfortable in a suit and tie, did just as well as those in jeans, a button down, and a jacket or sweater. Not once did someone's "suit and tie" make me think more or, or less, of them as a candidate. What mattered more is whether they were comfortable enough in their attire to interview well and show a match and attempt to adopt the cultural norms of the company.
- You do not need to wear a suit and tie—you do need to wear something culturally appropriate for the company location/office.
- You do need to be you and who you are. Never present yourself, or "dress", as someone you are not. Being you, the confident you, matters more than anything
Corey recommends the following next steps:
- Research the cultural norms of the target company. Use company promotional videos, networking events, and marketing images to determine the "dress code"
- Find outfits that make you feel comfortable and confident that are within a step or two, up or down, from the cultural norm for the company.
- Show up, dressed as yourself, and be confident in who you are.