Seminarian Internship Interview

Aw, Looky Here, Ma! We done heard from a seminarian! Hello, seminemineminarian!

Having long since digested the ministerial intern rant and shared it with numerous other seminarians, I’ve come to a different issue of style for which I would appreciate some advice. As you know too well our [ liberal religious community] is a strange mix of men who wear suits to church every Sunday and those who show up in shorts and flip flops. I am seeking out an internship for the coming year and have been invited to interview later this month with one of our larger congregations. The interview will be conducted in person, starting with a potluck one evening, moving into a more formal interview the following day, and attendance at worship on Sunday. I know well enough to go to an interview in a suit, but what to do when the interview is over a multi-day, multi-context situation? A suit seems too much for a potluck, but as a younger 30-something I also want to convey that I understand the role I’m “auditioning” for, and that ministry calls for different dress for different occasions. And one last question- I’ve been considering growing my hair out after having kept it short for the last few years. It’s curly at length, and is, at the moment, not long enough to pull back, but starting to show the beginning of the curls. Can I be a male minister in our association and have long hair while looking professional, and if so, what’s the protocol for the in-between stage?

DEAR Newbie,
So good to hear from you.

Let’s take your questions in opposite order of where they appear in your letter. First, hair.

Curly hair on men is so often a mess when it’s longer. It’s very difficult to cut well, and often appears just furry and lop-sided and even icky at in-between stages of growth. This isn’t to say that you need to chop the hell out of it (stop looking at me like that, Samson). It just means that you need to find a good stylist, not just your typical $5 barber, and get it cut well. Sit in the chair with the stylist and discuss how you want it to look before he or she gets out the shears. Curly hair is tricky but worth the effort. I would not advise you to grow it out. It’s almost certain not to look as good as it can look at a shorter length.

There is a certain religion professor associated with liberal religion at one of our more liberal seminaries who has long curly hair, and I frankly think he should CUT IT OFF. So if he, or his students, are reading this, PEACEBANG TOTALLY THINKS YOU SHOULD CUT YOUR HAIR. “Hippie chic” is an oxymoron. It looks dated and unkempt.

Second question, Newbie. That’s complicated since I don’t know what you look like. However, I think you’re going to have to pack a few options for this trip. I don’t think you need a complete suit for the actual internship interview. I worry, quite frankly, that you’ll look like a used car salesman. Go with a sports jacket and tie. We’re not in the corporate world and you want to be confident and somewhat comfortable. Think of the setting. You’re likely to be interviewing in a church parlor with a bunch of fairly casual lay people and a coffee pot on the table and paper cups all over the place (wait, they’re the liberal church — scratch the paper cups, they’ll be SUSTAINABLE cups). You’re not in a board room, you’re not in a formal setting with thick carpets and oil paintings. Tie and jacket. Make sure everything is impeccable, that it all fits and is ironed, etc. Shine your shoes. Trim your nails. Shave.

Speaking of shaving, PeaceBang HIGHLY DISAPPROVES of scant beards on preachers. If you can’t grow a full face of beard or goatee, CLEAN SHAVE THE FACE, for God’s sake. The patchy beard looks like a dirty face from a distance. ICK.

For the more casual potlucky portion of your time with the committee, guess what? I would still wear a sports jacket. That’s just me. Because I happen to think that a comfortable sports jacket is a nice way for a man to look relaxed and put together at the same time, and I am sorry that your generation mistakenly believes that jackets are just for dress-up time. They really aren’t. I would wear nice dark jeans, a tweedy sports jacket, a button-down shirt open one button at the neck (T-shirt, please, no chest hairs showing), and a pair of sexy shoes like these,

You don’t want to wear sporty shoes at any point in the interview process. Shoes are where so many people go so wrong. So stay away from this sort of thing,

Because honestly, Newbie, even if you just wear a sweater, tie and chinos to an interview (another look I might recommend for the potluck), it’s all about sealing the deal with the right shoes. The shoes bring it up a notch. If they’re sharp and shined up and a snappy, you really elevate your outfit. DETAILS, darling! DETAILS! Grooming! Accessories! A nice watch, a fresh shave and haircut.

What you don’t want to do is pair a suit jacket with a pair of jeans, like super hunk Daniel Craig has done here. He’s James Bond, so he can do whatever he wants, but the formality and cut of a suit coat have no place with a regular Joe pair of pants. It’s very Euro but so wrong for American Church, and the fabrics are entirely incompatible:

But blazingly hot, no? Rrrrowl.

A sports jacket is meant for less formal occasions. Note:

Lookin’ good in the neighborhood.

Save your suit for Sunday morning, when you should look sharp as a TACK, baby. Pack it carefully in a garment bag and carry it on the plane. Yes, you need a suit for Sunday morning. Borrow one if you have to but for the love of God make sure it FITS YOU. No hems pooling around your ankles. No sock showing when you walk. No straining seams, or jackets you can’t button or yards of extra fabric or huge pouches of material around your thighs. Make sure about an inch of shirt cuff can be seen beyond the cuff of your coat. Bring a hair removal roller.

Remember to all of you: structured garments communicate respect. Whenever you interview, you should be planning your outfit around structured garments unless you’re intentionally working the Flowing Garb Warm Pastoral Therapist look, in which case you should be all warmth and cuddly fabrics and unstructured clothes. Like maybe a PONCHO.

Wouldn’t Poncho be the cutest name for a cat? “Poncho! C’mere, Poncho!!”

Anyway, Newbie, so glad to hear from you. Best of luck with the interview and do drop a line to tell us how it went. Kiss of peace, PB

7 Replies to “Seminarian Internship Interview”

  1. Might I recommend finding a curly hair specialty salon before attempting to grow out curly hair. My daughter’s tight coils and my loose waves have both been very much helped by going to a Devachan salon. Worth every penny.

  2. I’m a girl, but I did have a multi-day interview for my last job. (And I got the job, too, which is where I am now.)

    I dressed up not just for the interview, but also for walking around town. I wear my regular jeans in town now, but on that interview weekend, it was my proper coat and heels the whole time. I even coordinated my purse.

    And oh, yes, I did have a really nice “work bag” as it was a multi day interview. Not a briefcase, but steps above a tote. I could walk off the plane and into the interview, or as it happened, pick up my things from Sunday service and walk straight to the final interview. Get thee at the least a classy portfolio, in which you will have copies of your resume and sermon or whatever you might need to give them, as well as some research on THEM! Nice homemade calling cards wouldn’t hurt you either on these multi day gigs.

    The notable part: I have not had to fight for any respect here, and they offered me above the asking price. So dress and professional deportment does matter.

  3. Amen and Amen!

    For the potluck:

    NICE turtleneck sweater and pants (in colors that suit your skintone, NOT black for the sweater at least). If your neck can’t do a turtleneck, one of those nice sweaters with a polo collar. Make sure, if you are interviewing in a big sports area, not to wear the competitors color (and if it suits you, wearing the team color gives you a nice little thing to converse about)

    For the interview (on a saturday morning) sports coat IN A NICE SMALL TWEED, fitted well, well fitting dark khaki (or navy depending on your coloring) pants, BELT AND SHOES THAT GO TOGETHER (not necessarily match) and a NON WHITE shirt that coordinates (can be a print, not to matchy matchy but not “i have a stylist”, you know?) shoes and socks that go, T SHIRT, smile

    Sunday morning, A SUIT, a nice suit. shoes that go (and probably not the ones from the day before), light shirt, nice tie. T SHIRT.

    Well groomed throughout. good haircut, nails, shaved, smelling good but not too good, proper coat for the weather, gloves. (you don’t want to get the maternal thing going for people, seriously–they will forever think of you as a child if they don’t think you know how to dress for the weather)

    The thing is, this three day ensemble, with a few extras and coats and stuff, will do for your whole life season and beyond.

  4. I totally disagree with the turtleneck or crew neck sweater idea because as a young person you should look youthful and young men don’t wear these things. They are for more mature men.

    I am not a minister but am a member of a liberal congregation. When our congregation looks for an intern we are seeking some new ideas and new ways of looking at things. Present yourself, as Peacebang said, in a way that shows you know how to dress appropriately for different occasions but express your youth and individuality also.

  5. Remember to iron the shirt for Sunday morning ! (I’m serious, if you travel Friday then even if you ironed it before you left home, it will probably need a little refresh. Unless you’ve been able to hang it in the shower.) We hosted a candidate a couple of months back. He got my vote when I walked into my kitchen at 8am on Sunday and found him ironing his own shirt.

    I think your wardrobe can be simple as long as it looke well cared for. Polish your shoes. DON’T wear white socks. And above all smile and make eye contact.

  6. Poncho is a great name for a cat. In fact, it is the name of my best friend’s cat. (He does not come when he is called, however.)

    When are you going to start a what not to wear for pastors tv show? I would get cable to watch that. [We’d have some kind of fun, wouldn’t we? Contact Bravo and pitch the idea to them. 😉 I love PONCHO!! Can you send me a photo? I’m weird that way. – PB]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.