DEAR MISS MANNERS: Should one ask before a job interview if there is a dress code for the interview?
GENTLE READER: No. It is not that Miss Manners considers it unmannerly -- or even unreasonable -- for employees to get clear direction from the boss, or, in its absence, to make inquiries. It is rather that she believes that, in this case, any answer you receive will make your problem worse, not better.
The most likely response will be a misguided attempt to put you at ease -- something along the lines of, “Oh, really, wear anything that makes you comfortable.” Then what? Do you make a poor impression by wearing your jogging clothes to what you know to be a stuffy law firm that disdains casual Fridays? Or do you disregard the first instruction from the person you hope will be your new boss?
And if instead the boss admits that a jacket and tie are expected, what will he think of your judgment when you needed help figuring out something that, to him, is obvious? Remember that being overdressed shows respect for the interview and a desire to get the job, while being underdressed shows the opposite. Consider this your first job assignment.