Thursday, June 11, 2009

Question- Dressing For an Interview

Oh boy, here I go, first QA with Camille!

Reader Diana asked:

Is there a certain color that's good to wear for interviews? I've got some coming up soon.

I remember in my undergrad reading Harry Wong's First Days of School and giggling at the pictures of women dressed professionally in long early 80's plaid, wool skirts, horrible vests, and over sized dress shirts. However, I did take something from that chapter- dressing professional is crucial to being taken seriously. I have always been preppy, but I kicked it up a lot when I got accepted into the teaching program. I know I look 18, yes, I even get asked for my hall pass several times a year by other faculty members, but only when I wear jeans or certain colors. I took note of my peers and those who wore certain colors and jackets/cardigans with heels could transform themselves into an authority figure! Whenever fashion tips came up in high school and college classes, I really perked up and my steel trap memory kicks in. I am happy to spit out all the great tips I have gathered on looking like the expert and dressing for an interview.

High School: My fashion merchandising teacher took a day to go through colors and what they say about the person wearing them. I wish I remembered all, but I know my teacher said that Navy Blue was THE color to wear during interviews, followed closing by black and dark gray. A suit or suit alternative is always a must (cardigan, dressy jacket, etc). Also, error on the side of conservative when you're interviewing. However, I have read/heard several people say to wear one statement piece, a vintage item, preferably jewelry to keep your outfit somewhat interesting.

College: Look as polished as you can. Do your hair! Short and straight tends to look more professional, even though I personally am trying to grow out and go wavy, I try to push it all behind my ears and straighten my already stick straight hair that day. If your hair is very long, put it up in a bun. Also, even if the dress code says you can wear jeans, don't wear jeans for your first couple months so you stand out. This goes for the interview too, don't wear jeans even to a fast-food interview. Dress older and wiser than you are, and follow conventional fashion rules.

Grad: I haven't even started but a took a sample class at a preview day from the career center that talked about dress at interviews with large companies. I heard the same as above, go more formal, wear a suit, polish that hair, etc. However, they gave a great rule to make it more interesting: The Rule of 5. The Rule of 5 basically states that only 5 things should pop from your outfit: Example: patent shoes=1, belt=2, earring=3, bracelet=4, colored bag=5. You can see where one can get to 5 fast- particularly me and my fellow fashion bloggers! So, watch yourself, add some fun so you stand out, but keep it down to 5!

Personal Experience: Before teaching I was an office manager for a marketing/design firm and was lucky enough to sit in on HUNDREDS of interviews. It was a great learning experience! I noticed since it was an artsy place with graphic designers, advertisers, web design, and admin. all in one, we liked those who stood out! Those who got the job always had on an artsy/colorful item. One was a thick necklace with a brooch, one multi colored heels, etc (but still a classic pant/skirt, oxford, and jacket/sweater). So, my advice- CALL THE HR PERSON AND ASK THE DRESS CODE! If it's casual, go a business casual and add something that fits the company culture. Example: Accounting, I would wear classic suit, vintage necklace, Teaching, I have always worn a suit with red accessories or an authoritative wrap sweater/skirt over oxford- and I ALWAYS wear my glasses because I really do look smarter when I wear them, and I'm happy to say I've been offered all the jobs I wanted in the teaching industry! If you were in fashion you would want to bag the rules and go for style/trends, etc. So, check out the culture and dress to impress, show them you are one of them so they want to hire you!

So, look at where you're going to work, ask what type of people work there, do something to show you fit it, keep it more conservative than usual, and pay attention to details such as hair and shoes to keep it slick! And when in doubt- wear gray, black, or NAVY- with one bold accessory.

Good luck interviewees, I hope this was somewhat helpful, and may that job be yours!
Oh yeah, and if anyone has anything else to add, please leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. This is definitely helpful. I'm interviewing for a media specialist position at an elementary school, and I think I will be erring more on the side of conservative. I like the idea of wearing one or two stand-out accessories to jazz up the outfit a bit. I'm thinking maybe a really nice vintage brooch and some patent shoes :)