Beautiful U: Dressing for interviews

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By Nicolette Audino

I can pinpoint the exact moment I moved into this school. I was standing outside Davidson with my parents and my dad asked one of the football players to help carry in my massive television set. Four years later, I am dumbfounded to find myself living off-campus and to soon be entering the real world.

This time in a senior’s life can be stressful and overwhelming as we begin to wonder where we will live, what we want to do, if we will make enough money and how we will survive without frat parties.

The first step to the real world is an interview. Therefore, one of the most important first questions you will probably ask yourself is, “what do I wear?”

Our wardrobes probably currently consist of sweatpants, gym clothes, casual class outfits and party attire. What does one wear to an interview for graduate school? Or a fashion magazine? Or a nanny position?

I received some wonderful advice when I was an intern this past summer on appropriate interview attire: “dress for the job you ultimately want, not the job you are applying for.” For example, if you are applying for an entry-level position at a magazine, do not dress like an editor’s assistant—dress like the editor.

Looking overly prepared in your wardrobe choice, whether in a creative or professional setting, shows a lot about your character. In fact, a study shows that the person interviewing you decides within the first 30 seconds whether or not he or she wants to hire you. Thus, putting effort into your choice of attire is important to make a good first impression.

What is so difficult, though, is deciding exactly what is appropriate. You wouldn’t want to walk into an interview for law school in a shimmery pencil skirt, boyfriend blazer and sky high-stilettos; then again, this may be just the outfit if you are applying to be a fashion assistant. If every job were the same, this would be simple, but dressing for your field is key.

If attending a graduate school interview, it is important to dress like a “professional student.” Think about the school itself. Understand the vibe of the school and embody it. The key is not to go too over the top, but to be remembered.

A pair of black straight-legged, crop Capri pants, tucked in white blouse, black cardigan, flats and a colorful scarf would be a wonderful outfit choice. The outfit is understated yet professional, and the pop of color in a pretty scarf will make you stand out.

If attending an interview for a job in a creative field, such as a fashion magazine, public relations firm or design studio, your outfit shouldn’t be plain. It should not, of course, look as if you are hitting a club; there is a fine line between trendy and over-the-top. Creative environments look for unique individuals.

If you are applying to be an assistant to a fashion PR agent, wearing a plain but trendy ensemble is extremely important. Throw on a cute A-line skirt with a high-necked tank top tucked in.  Pair it with a choker necklace and killer pair of heels. Always carry a sharp bag and do not be afraid to wear designer items. Creative professionals appreciate that.

A professional setting, such as an advertising firm, may require something different. Go to a store like J.Crew or Banana Republic and get fitted for a sharp suit.

My suggestion is to find a black paint-suit with a wide-legged or boot-cut pant and a matching one-button blazer that cuts off either directly above or below your butt, depending on your height. Always choose a blazer that cinches at the waist to emphasize your figure and pair it with a pair of pointy-toed stilettos to enhance the length of your leg, a high-necked blouse tucked in underneath, a watch and a thin, colorful belt.

Before you get dressed, consider the following:

  1.  Consider your setting.  Are you in a school setting, professional setting or creative setting?
  2.  Do research and embody your setting. What do other people wear on campus or around the office? Look around, consult Google, ask around—what attire is most common and appropriate?
  3. Think about your career idol. How would he or she dress?
  4.  Do you have the appropriate outfit in your closet? If not, buy something new.
  5. Are you comfortable? Find something that works but will not make you squirm.
  6. Look your best. Confidence will radiate from you and make you shine in the eyes of your future employer.

 

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