Dressing for Success in Executive-Level Interviews with a European Company in the US

The image you convey during your first executive interview can make or break your chances of an offer. If you’re interviewing with a European subsidiary expanding to the US, you need to consider all cultural differences and attire expectations.

“The executive presence that candidates convey during an in-person interview can play an important role in the selection process,” says Myriam Le Cannellier, co-founder and director of DSML, an executive search firm in Boston and Chicago. “You do not want your interviewer remembering what you wore or how you looked over your business skills.”

To balance the fine line of a cross-cultural executive interview, you need to understand and respect specific attire expectations. Fortunately, this is relatively simple with the right insider information.

With more than 15 years of cross-cultural recruitment experience, DSML Executive Search has helped hundreds of candidates navigate the interview process. Here are tips we provide to active candidates interviewing for positions with European subsidiaries.

Dressing For In-Person Executive Search Recruitment Interviews

The first in-person interview between a finalist candidate and company management creates a great deal of expectations on both sides in executive search recruitment. While more than 82% of employers rely on virtual interviews, candidates at the executive level can expect at least one in-person interview before their offer — or potentially more.

“My best advice on dressing for a cross-cultural, in-person interview is to adapt to your audience,” Myriam says. “That said, Europeans typically expect a more formal fit than Americans, and it may be wise to follow traditional suggestions for interview outfits.”

In Myriam’s long-standing experience recruiting for European companies in the USA in cities like Chicago, she recommends wearing quintessential classics for a timeless, well-kept appearance. Dress slacks, blazers, and close-toed shoes are easy choices for the first interview. “Male candidates do not need to wear a tie in many cases,” she says. “However, some of our clients are more formal than the “casual” attire that often prevails in the US.”

Before showing up for the first meeting, be sure to:

  • Do your research. Understand the company’s environment and take notes on the average dress.
  • Err on the side of caution. If something seems too casual at first glance, go with your gut.
  • Avoid common faux pas. Don’t wear jangly jewelry, sneakers, or jeans.

Remember: the American understanding of a casual outfit may not always equate to European casual attire. Be sure to speak with your interview coordinator about recommended styles or clothing choices.

Cross-Cultural Considerations For Executive Interview Attire

Fashion varies widely in different European countries, even for areas with similar locations. Knowing what to wear as an American can be challenging, particularly without prior experience working with subsidiaries expanding to the US.

Here are a few considerations to keep in mind for US candidates interviewing for a European executive position:

  • First, speak with a professional who’s familiar with European culture so you can center your expectations around their outfits of choice.
  • Then, test your chosen outfit several days before the interview to ensure a comfortable, clean fit.
  • Avoid any outfits with loud, busy patterns, and stick to solid colors with a clean, pressed finish.

Keep reading for more tips and tricks on what to avoid wearing during your final interview.

Final Thoughts For Preparing For Final Interviews With A European Company Expanding to The US

Final in-person interviews are a critical component of every executive hiring decision. They are especially crucial when recruiting for European subsidiaries in the US since finding the right fit for their role is necessary for success.

However, the outfit you wear to your final interview is only one component of dressing for success. You must also come prepared with cross-cultural nuance to better communicate with the client in question.

“Since cultural fit is so important to succeed, we often encourage our clients to have lunch or dinner with an executive candidate to get to know their personality better and confirm alignment,” Myriam says. “The candidate must be ready to display their skill and comfort acting as a liaison between for a cross-cultural role.”

To do this, Myriam recommends performing further research on:

A Successful Cross-Cultural Interview Starts With DSML Executive Search

Cross-cultural interviews may be more challenging than others, but their rewards are well worth the effort. Collaborating with professionals with different perspectives and backgrounds can help you gain experience while testing your talents on the world stage.

If you’re interested in exploring cross-cultural roles with a European subsidiary in your industry of expertise, you can reach out to the team at DSML Executive Search to inquire about potential openings. You may contact us at +1 312 268 6166 or send us a message through the online contact form.

+1 312 268 6166