It’s sort of a dirty trick. You spend 15-20 years in school before you start a full-time career. In that time you are generally evaluated as an individual. To a large extent, your academic experience is a solo act.
Then you graduate and take a job where everything you do is a team effort. Committees, group presentations, cross-functional work groups, quality teams. It never ends!
Your paycheck may even be based on how well your team performs. After all those years of running your own show as a student, you’re expected to be the ultimate team player.
Just as dressing the part is important in the workplace, it is also very important in the interview. Err on the side of caution and wear a suit instead of more casual attire. You never know what a potential employer will want to see!
- Women: Just as I advised men to wear a power suit, the same holds true for women. This is probably not the time to pull out something with crazy patterns and colors. Understand the difference between a work suit and a pageant suit. And for your interview, wear a work suit.
- Many women struggle with whether they should wear a skirt or pants. Really, it depends on the geographic region. Pants or skirt are usually fine anywhere, but sometimes in the South and Midwest skirts are preferred. The best thing to do is ask someone you know from the area or someone who successfully interviewed there recently because it can vary from place to place and position to position.
- If you choose to wear a skirt, then you will also have to determine whether you should wear pantyhose/stockings. Again, preferences vary from place to place. For a more conservative area or position, you should probably consider hose. People probably won’t fault you for wearing them, but might fault you if you don’t. Again, ask around to find out.
- Before you go to your interview, try on your suit. Were you a couple of sizes smaller when you bought it and now the buttons are struggling? Do the sleeves come down to your knuckles? If so, consider getting your suit tailored or getting a new, better fitting suit. Also, sit down. Does your skirt ride up a bit too high? Can you see things you shouldn’t? Does your shirt come un-tucked when you sit? Be sure your skirt is not too short when you are standing either. Generally it should be knee length.
- Shoes, are of course, important. This is not the time to bring out the shoes you would wear to the bar or club. This is the time for pumps. And don’t get the really high ones either. Again, go for conservative. Open toe is a no no, too. And no weird colors, either.
- The shirt you wear under your suit jacket should be appropriate, too. Make sure it is not too low cut, tight or too loud. Traditionally a solid or light print is best.
- You may want to go easy on the perfume. You never know who will be allergic to the scent or who just won’t like it. Don’t let the way you smell get in the way of your otherwise wonderful interview.
- Be sure your hair is nice. Don’t just carelessly put it in a ponytail. Put some effort in doing your hair, but don’t do some prom do either.
- Observe the “5″ rule when it comes to jewelry. One ring + one watch + one necklace + two earrings (one in each ear). Sure, some places may be less conservative than this, but when in doubt, only wear five pieces of jewelry.
This concludes the advice on what to wear to help translate your college success into interview success by dressing appropriately for your interview. Add your own advice in the comments section!
Have you ever heard the expression, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” The same holds true for interviews as it does in the workplace. You should always err on the side of caution and wear something more formal rather than more casual. You never know what a potential employer will want to see, so a suit is a must!
- Men: While all men are created equal, all suits are not. For your interview, you need to wear your power suit. Traditionally a black, navy or charcoal will do, and subtle pinstripes are okay too. But unless you are absolutely confident in what attire is acceptable (read: you are interviewing with your mom or dad), then save your summer suits, seersucker and casual attire for later and wear the power suit now.
- When you buy a suit, it is probably not going to fit you like it should. Most department stores have a tailor that will help fit you for your suit when you buy it. DO NOT forgo this necessity of suiting! You will look silly if you come in with your sleeves or pants too long or too short.
- Your tie should also be conservative. Think about it—when you see people who are running for president make public appearances, what kinds of ties do they wear? Certainly not the Looney Tunes one your mom gave you when you were a kid. A traditional red or blue tie, possibly a conservatively striped one, is the way to go. Never wear florals, paisleys, etc. And be sure you get the right tie size. That’s right. If you are shorter or taller, your tie sizes are different. Shop accordingly.
- Save the white socks for the gym and the argyle for the golf course. You must wear dress socks. And if you have trouble telling the difference between those dark brown, navy and black ones, do not be afraid to ask for help!
- Your shoes should match your belt. And don’t do anything funky either. Always lace ups and never loafers. Be sure to remember that if you have to do a bit of walking, break in your shoes in advance so you can concentrate on your interview and not your aching feet.
- Get a conservative haircut. Shave before the interview, and don’t be in a hurry because you don’t want to walk in with cuts all over your face. Be sure your hands and nails are clean.
- Consider not wearing cologne. If you absolutely must, don’t wear much. You never know who will be allergic to the scent or who just won’t like it.
- No jewelry except wedding rings and maybe a class ring! Nothing should be in your visible piercings and you should not have twelve advocacy bracelets either.
Help translate your college success into interview success by dressing appropriately for your interview. Stay tuned for the next post concentrating on interview attire for women!
Some students get all the breaks. They get the great summer jobs and the best internships, the best experience to get their careers started. How can you possibly compete with these lucky stiffs?
First of all, most “lucky” people have a lot more going for them than good fortune, but that’s another story for another day.
Regarding your background, a lack of concrete experience is definitely a limiting factor in many job searches. This is especially true if the firm you want to work for is too small or too busy to give you extensive training. So what can you do to demonstrate the experience you need to compete for these positions?
One seldom-exploited option is to assign yourself the kind of project that the “lucky” students gain through internships and summer jobs. For instance, even though you don’t have a summer job at an architectural firm, you can still design a building during summer break. Your sketches or blueprints are no less indicative of your skills just because you dreamed up the whole idea. If your aspirations are in the field of nutrition, write the definitive tofu cookbook. Or create a new ad campaign for an existing or fictional product. If you want to be a broker someday, use an on-line trading service to manage an imaginary $100,000 portfolio.
Sure you worked for free, and worked for yourself, but you still wound up with architectural drawings, a cookbook, an ad campaign, or investment results to show potential interviewers. Beyond your experience, you demonstrate a high level of effort, one of the Winning Characteristics all employers value. Taking the initiative to design and test a new product is a great way to differentiate yourself from your peers. What you lack on your resume, you may be able to overcome through effort an enthusiasm.
Worked hard to achieve college success, but still can’t find your dream internship that allows you to gain the experience you want or need to enter the job market? Then give yourself the assignment you want and get started!
You’ve worked hard to achieve college success and now it is time to start working on finding permanent employment. The job interview goes well. You feel like you made a connection with the interviewer. But then, on your way out, you notice she has six more interviews scheduled after yours. How will she possibly remember you five hours later, or the next day when she decides whom to invite back for the second round? What can you do to help her remember the positive aspects of your interview?
Maybe you’re a freshman with no idea where your academic interests lie. Or a sophomore planning to change majors. Or a junior thinking about dropping some classes because they cut into practice time for your new band. Or a senior with a serious case of indecision. Whatever your situation, you may be considering adding a fifth year to your program.
There’s nothing wrong with being quiet or shy. In fact, the world might be a better place if a few more people fit into that category. Unfortunately our society, including job recruiters, often rewards the more extroverted, aggressive types, making the assumption that quiet equals less capable.