A Fitting Interview by Kristin Schuchman
Tips from Kristin Schuchman, a friend of mine who is a career strategist at A Portland Career and a certified EMyth Coach. She interviewed me for this blog post. I’m reposting it here in case there are a couple of nuggets for you to find a style that helps you stand out from the crowd when interviewing.
Err on the side of conservatism, but not too far. It is possible to dress too primly for an interview. Find out as much about the aesthetic values of a place by perusing the website, absorbing the copy for cues about the overall tone and personality of the place and, if possible, ask someone you know who has worked there recently for tips to strike the right note. Banks, insurance offices and law firms typically prefer more conservatism, while advertising and PR agencies inhabit the other end of the casualness continuum. There’s always that one law firm, however, that bucks the system by encouraging quirky attire and frowning on neck ties. Their website will most likely clue you into their fashion MO. (I would add here that if you need some inspiration watch some TV shows like The Good Wife or Suits. Also, use tools like pinterest to create a secret board or “look book” of your own.)
Dress for one step above the job you’re applying for. You might have heard the advice that once you are in a position, you should dress for the job you want. You want those in charge to notice your professionalism and, if they don’t know who you are, to assume that you’re in a more advanced position. The same principle applies in an interview. Dress like you plan on moving up (and you will more than likely project confidence and dispel interview anxiety).
- Women should adhere to the 2-to-4 Feminine Mystique Ratio. (Gentlemen, this one’s for the women. I’ll get to you in a minute.) Ladies, don’t be afraid to be feminine. Long gone are the days when women were advised to dress like men in the workplace, and I, for one, am thankful I don’t have to look like Lilith Sternin Crane to be taken seriously. Image stylist Elizabeth Cramer advises women to embrace their femininity by wearing what makes you feel attractive but to adhere to what she calls the 2-to-4 Feminine Mystique Ratio — out of the 4 elements of femininity you can don (short skirt, bare legs, cleavage, high heels), you can get away with wearing two of the four, but no more. For instance, you can wear a short skirt with high heels, but not bare legs and no cleavage. You can have cleavage and high heels, but keep your legs covered and wear a longer skirt.
Men should adhere to the 4 Rules of Being Well-Suited. For men, Elizabeth recommends paying attention to the four ways to make sure you show a sense of style and pride in your appearance. Wear a splash of color in the form of a tie and/or handkerchief; sport a well-tailored suit with a slimmer, European cut; pay attention to your shoes, giving them a good polish and keeping them free of scuff marks; and wear socks that coordinate with your tie and handkerchief.