Getting the Job Out of the Interview

by Rachel Yeomans | July 27th, 2009   

This is an era when we are all striving to find that silver lining–that bit of light at the end of the tunnel that gives us reason to keep plugging forward. One segment most needing that silver lining is the job market. For those with jobs, they are trying to hold on to them with all of their might; and for those looking for jobs, they are trying every angle to grab that opportunity for a real paycheck.

What’s interesting about the interviewing segment of the job market is that it’s not just overrun with college graduates, but also with seasoned professionals. Therefore there is not only competition with experience and larger portfolios, but also with people who have years of skilled “first impression” attire versus those who can barely afford a Macy’s suit on sale.

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The interview attire has always followed simple rules:

1.) Wear a suit.

2.) Bring a briefcase.

3.) Don’t wear anything that will cause the interviewer to remember your outfit more than you.

With the current job market and larger interviewing demographic, I feel these rules are in need of a slight makeover.

1.) Wear a suit.

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* If you don’t have the Armani hanging in your closet and have put your savings more towards food and rent than to your work attire, just make sure you have
a jacket and pair of slacks or skirt (appropriate in length of course) that match. As for a top, don’t fret about it too much–the blazer is a wonderful cover-up.
The blouse is of course the standard, but it’s smarter to opt for a clean scoop-neck shirt if it fits you better and you are comfortable moving around in it. If you
spend the entire interview adjusting your outfit, then you may come off more fidgety and anxious versus put-together and professional.

* Shoes. I have heard from several employers that the first thing potential employers look at is the pair of shoes a potential employee is wearing to an
interview. If they have scuffs, buff them up. If they are open-toed, leave them for a different time. Don’t wear flats and don’t wear stilettos (think the working
woman’s pump here). And if you are wearing slacks, make sure the slacks don’t bunch around your shoes nor do they hover above your ankle. Further
comment on shoes: wear hose or trouser socks–always err on the side of conservative just in case.

* Jewelry–keep it simple and keep it tasteful. The pearls and diamond studs are always good standards. If you didn’t get that strand of pearls for your
college graduation and diamonds aren’t quite your best friend as of yet, a simple silver chain necklace and cubic earrings make the exact same statement as
the pricier former. There are varying opinions on statement jewelry. The fine line of positive versus negative statement is so fine, it’s best not to even try
tip toeing it, however if you want something to stand out about you, opt for a thick bracelet or hoop earrings versus the knuckle-sized ring or overwhelming

2.) Bring a briefcase.

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* NOTE: The Dell briefcase that came with your computer is NOT a good interview briefcase!

* ALSO NOTE: The Patagonia satchel is also not appropriate for a work interview.

* Bring a briefcase or a large handbag that is solid without any embellishments, patterns, labels and above-all patches.

* Remember that this is an interview. You most likely don’t need your laptop nor a great deal of papers and binders. Don’t overstuff your briefcase so you
end up handing over a crinkled copy of your resume to your potential employer. Put your resume, references, and a few other necessary documents in a thin
binder that you can extract easily from your briefcase.

* Even if you have a briefcase that you can sling across your body, DON’T show up wearing it that way. Hold the handles in your hand without using the
shoulder strap.

3.) Don’t wear anything that will cause the interviewer to remember your outfit more than you.

* This goes back to making a statement versus making a fashion statement. You are there to get a job, not flaunt your style. This goes back to staying away
from flashy jewelry.

* Do not wear a suit with patterns, hardware and above all, make sure it is appropriately buttoned up. Same goes for the suit skirt–if crossing your legs draws
attention, that skirt is not appropriate for the work place.

* When it comes to hair, stay away from accessories. No headbands, no flashy pins, and don’t cover yourself with bobby pins. Also, tame it down by not
having too much poof or a style that warrants a glamour shot and hinders you from holding a telephone. My advice: the bun or ponytail is always the
simplest option. Of course, make sure it’s very tame and sleek (no scrunchies), but these styles will ensure that you are not hiding behind any fly-aways and
will take one concern off of your agenda for the interview.

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Bottom line, before the repercussions of the economy in the job market, the job market attire had begun to mirror American society: It became very selfish. Dress codes were side-stepped, meetings went from board room table to pushing together break room tables, and professionalism was left to gather dust in the mailbox. Now with people fearing for their jobs and attempting to set themselves apart from their counterparts when looking for new jobs, we need to set ourselves apart both by skills and by appearance.


This is a great article! Very well put together and these are easy points that every woman in corporate America should have memorized!!