Got another letter from one of you pumpkins who’s got an interview coming up. “Should I wear something comfortable, like a denim skirt?” she asked. “Or dress up with a blouse and nicer skirt?” She is a Christian Educator going for a called parish job.

And I said, “DRESS UP!”
Which is really the essence of my advice for interviews: don’t be afraid to over-dress — unless you show up in a bugle-beaded evening gown you’re probably not going to be over-dressed, and you know that PeaceBang would much rather you be more spiffed up than you need to be rather than err in the other direction. Interviews are not a time to make comfort a priority. When interviewing — even for a volunteer position — dress for who you eventually want to be in the world, not for who you are today, if that makes sense.

Also this: NEVER EVER EVER wear a denim garment of any kind to an interview. Okay? Denim is great and can be professional and we love it, etc., but it is not interview-appropriate unless you’re interviewing at the Gap.

Toodles, darlings. PeaceBang is going to bang away on her dissertation today.

10 Replies to “Interviews”

  1. Okay, I can’t believe that somehow this isn’t being covered in career development. Denim skirt for an interview? I can’t imagine.

    I didn’t wear a ‘suit’ to my interview last week, but grey trousers, with a jacket in the same colour (although the jacket had a very fine white and pink pinstripe), and a magenta scoopneck. I have a ‘career important’ meeting on Saturday, that is not an interview (just found out today), and am already piecing together outfits in my mind.

    It will NOT be a denim skirt, however!

  2. This is the same advice my mom gave me years ago. I remember interviewing for a part-time job in high school at the local movie theater. I wore a nice pair of navy pants with a slight white pin stripe, matching vest, and white blouse underneath (it was very trendy in 1996 🙂 ) I was the most dressed up person there but I didn’t care. And I got the job.

    Mom always said “dress one level higher than the job will require”. I do believe though she would have also drawn the line at ball gowns 🙂

  3. I also question the ‘comfort’ factor. Is a denim skirt or jeans REALLY more ‘comfortable’ than a skirt or trousers in an all-season wool gabardine? Denim is a rugged, stiff fabric with not a whole lot of flexibility (as fabrics go). I think it’s a ‘comfort zone’ (as in familiarity, not physical comfort)thing.

  4. I had an interview recently where at the last minute the committee emailed to say they were all going to dress causally and I should too. I think they meant it to be helpful to me – but really it just added a extra level of worry to my clothing choices. (Especially since I had traveled for the interview so at that point my choice was basically already made.) “Causal” leaves so much more room for sending signals you didn’t mean to – which isn’t good for an interview where you are only getting the one chance to interact. Though I guess if people are going to all start telling people to dress causally for interviews eventually coming in a suit will be judged as stuffy or pretentious. I hope not because choosing a suit or other more formal outfit for an interview is generally much easier than planning for a less formal dress code.

  5. Guys have it easy…you need a blue pinstripe suit with a conservative tie and white shirt, or a navy blue blazer and dark grey pants. It’s really all a guy needs…that and some black shoes.

  6. When I interviewed for my current position, I knew the dress code was casual but I wore a blouse with a wool skirt, hose and pumps. Got the job that’s all that counts. I don’t think anyone should wear denim on an interview, too iffy.

  7. I work in software in a company where bare feet and beach shorts are acceptable office wear. (Yes, the headoffice is in silicon valley…) But even here, definately no denim for an interview situation. (Chinos at a minumum with a clean no-slogan t-shirt and some kind of attempt at a jacket or at a minimum a clean jumper. Years of working in software have taught me to specify clean…)

    For a parish job, keep in mind that you can have a real mix of people making the hiring decision and you can’t rely on them to share your dress code – so definately go smart and somewhat conservative. And make sure your shoes and nails are clean !

  8. the winter before your last year in div school–or earlier–go when stuff goes on sale and by a grey suit, black pants (and skirt) black shoes and purse, a nice white blouse, and a sweater set in some lightweight fabric and a flattering color. A cheap set of pears and earrings to match and maybe a topcoat. If there is a swanky church nearby with a rummage sale, you may be able to get all of this for under 200 dollars. Even if you are interviewing to be the nursery worker, wear some part of this for your interview. Wear it around enough to be comfortable in it. It is just part of adulthood, purely and simply. And for heavens sake, spell check your resume (even if it is all electronic) and clean under your fingernails. People will get a chance to know about your sparkling personality after you get the job.

  9. I meant “buy”, not “by” and “pearls” not “pears”; perhaps I should spell check my posts 😉

    PS: wear a little bit of makeup (if you’re female) and think through your hair situation too. Get some help from friends who will be honest about how you really look. What is cool in div school is not necessarily what is cool in real life from an image perspective.

  10. Since I have an interview for a pastoral position, it was time to check out what to wear! Having only 1 suit that I preach in, it’s not my first choice to interview in…since they’ll see it again if they ask me to preach! (Great idea by madgebaby too bad I didn’t read this last fall!) But after reading this, the suit wins out. maybe there’s a cute top on sale someplace that would be perfect for the interview! Thanks for the blog, love it!

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