Wednesday, June 15, 2011

preparing for an interview: thinking about your attire

When I was a recent college grad happily searching for my first teaching job, I had enthusiasm in abundance but my finances were limited. I didn't have the money for a really great interview suit, but I did have a kind cousin about my size who gave me one of her suits. The suit wasn't the most trendy outfit, but it was modest, in excellent shape, and fit well. I don't think it got me my first job, but it certainly looked professional and didn't detract from my interview. When I had money to buy myself a new suit the next time I was interviewing, I bought a suit I still wear ten years later. Though fashion generally shifts rapidly, conservative business dress does not. A great suit can last you a decade.

I know you've heard this before, but you really need to consider what you wear to interviews. If this weren't an issue, folks would stop talking about it. But I have sat in on interviews lately and been really shocked at how inappropriately some people choose to dress for interviews, the most professional activity you're likely to be involved with in the near future. If you can't get a new interview outfit, raid friends' or relatives' closets. You only need one suit and can wear it to all your interviews. You'll be the only one to know.

In dressing for an interview, you should choose to wear the most professional outfit you own. It shows you care and are taking this interview and the opportunity to teach students seriously. This is not the time to look your most trendy, most sexy, most anything other than professional. All you get is one impression. Make sure it is a good one.

Ladies, I'm just going to say it - an interview is no place for cleavage and thighs. Under your suit, your top should be modestly cut and lace tops are not appropriate. If you wear a skirt, it should be long enough to cover your thighs even when you are seated. Again, maybe not the most trendy or most fashionable, but it is most appropriate. Which is your biggest concern here.

Men, you might not want to hear this, but you need to wear a tie. Why? Why not?! Why would you take a chance and not dress your best? Ties should be conservative, avoiding characters or extreme colors. Long sleeved shirts are most appropriate, even in the summer.

Bottom line: interviews are the place for conservative business suits. Conservative colors (black, navy, gray, brown) are best. Interview attire plays a supporting role in your job search. Make sure that role helps you get the job.

Next post: body language

References: Warner, J. & Bryan, C. (2006). Inside secrets of finding a teaching job (3rd Ed.). Indianapolis, IN: JIST Publishing.
Job Search Handbook for Educators (2010), 45th Ed. American Association for Employment in Education, Inc.

What will you be wearing to job interviews this summer?


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