In by John Henning

With the news today that Goldman Sachs, the high end investment bank synonymous with Wall Street elite, is loosening its dress code, I was reminded of an article I wrote a few years ago about “dressing for success – not to impress!”

Back then, it seemed that the San Francisco Bay Area was rewriting the rules of “business professional” attire. The high-tech, startup-saturated business culture, increasingly populated with a millennial workforce, was reflected in the hoodies, jeans and sneakers frequently seen in the Financial District. Now, it seems as though we’re not alone in our shift away from suits and ties, as firms like Goldman Sachs and others have issued memos making ties optional, and relaxing employee dress codes.

When you have an interview opportunity in this market, the old “dress to impress” adage can be as outdated as a 3-piece suit. But without the traditional “rules,” what’s the best way to impress your interview panel?

Instead of automatically dusting off your interview suit, and arriving at your target workplace feeling stiff, uncomfortable and overly formal, try planning your attire based on communicating your overall fit into the culture and team environment. Think about the company, the products they sell, and the types of people who work there to get clues for how to dress.

When you think financial services, think business-like and professional, and definitely dress sharply. You may not need a tie, but you definitely want to convey a sense of responsibility and attention to detail – you’re essentially managing people’s money, either directly or indirectly – and your potential team members need to feel that you take yourself seriously.

When you think high-tech and internet companies, think hip and clean and know that even when you’re trendy, you still need to be tidy. Creative is one thing, but showing up in frayed jeans or a slouchy t-shirt is probably not the way to go. In this environment, over-dressing can work against you, and can signal a poor culture fit to your future teammates – but you still want to look put together and polished. If you opt to leave the suit at home, try swapping in a nice shirt and dark, hole-free denim.

If you’re not sure how to put your best foot forward in the wardrobe department, you should always ask! At GSG, part of the interview prep includes tips on workplace dress code and advice on how to make a great first impression. If you’re working with an internal recruiter, they should be able to point you in the right direction as well.

Regardless of the corporate culture, every potential interviewer wants to know that as a prospective employee or consultant you care about your appearance and that you put thought into what you wear and how you present. They want to feel comfortable being around you. And you need to be comfortable being you around them. Outward appearances may not be everything, but looking like you didn’t put any thought into it will stop potential employers and clients from ever discovering the talents and abilities you harbor on the inside!


Granite Solutions Groupe has been connecting high caliber talent with opportunities in the financial services sector since 1998. We place highly skilled consultants with financial services industry expertise at leading financial services companies to complete projects in areas ranging from blockchain to data analytics to product development. Our consultants are diverse, experienced, driven and dynamic contributors who excel at getting things done. To find out more about working with GSG on your next assignment, reach out to engage@granitesolutionsgroupe.com.