Q: I am interviewing with a recruiter for an executive position with mid-sized hospital community hospital. My current organization is very casual and none of the executives wear a coat and tie to work. I understand that more and more executives prefer a more relaxed dress code. How should I dress for the interview?
A: Unless specifically told to wear casual clothes you should always wear a business suit and a more conservative shirt and tie. It is better to err on the side of formality.
While there is certainly a trend to more casual business attire, healthcare, specifically non-profit hospitals, are predominantly a coat and tie work environment. Aside from an exception here and there, most major health systems and individual hospitals, especially the larger facilities, rely on a business formal approach.
In smaller community and rural hospitals there are a greater number of CEOs who eschew the neck ties and coats, but even in those environments you should err on the side of conservatism.
In my 20+ years of executive search, I have been told only one time not to wear a suit and tie for site visits— a public hospital in Kona, Hawaii. “Do not wear a coat and tie. You will just put people off. Besides, if you wear a tie people will believe you are a lawyer, not a recruiter,” the System CEO explained. It seems that throughout the Hawaiian Islands, the only people who wear formal business attire are lawyers.