Friday, May 23, 2014

Job Hunting - How Do I Look?

I have to tell you, I worry incessantly about if I am aesthetically pleasing to an interviewer. I worry about how I will style my hair and now that I'm natural, I think I spend way more time thinking about this than necessary. I plan outfits in my head and worry about which shoe will complete the outfit, then I worry about if the shoe is comfortable. I get my nails done, because I believe that matters. And my face - it needs to look perfect.

While outward presentation is important, there's no need to spend so much time worrying about it.

Ultimately, if a positive hiring decision is made, it will be because of what is in your head, not what's on your body. If you're only hired for your outward appearance, in the long run, its a bit demoralizing and more than likely you won't be satisfied in this position long term. Proper emphasis should be placed on your appearance, but be clear on what you are bringing to the table.

One caveat about appearance - professional attire means different things depending on where you are in the country. Coming from New York I was used to wearing a suit to all professional meetings, however for my first interview in California, I was definitely over-dressed in my suit and heels. I stuck out like a sore thumb. Perhaps it was the industry, but it was also the location as everyone in the company had on t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. Needless to say I did not get that job.

Nowadays, this is my standard interview "uniform":

  • Black slacks (you can't go wrong with black, preferably boot cut); if I wear slacks I'm not concerned about wearing stockings or not.
  • A white or neutral button up shirt; the white should be crisp and sharp. A good white shirt is a great investment, though sometimes a crew neck will do depending on the organization.
  • A black cardigan or blazer
  • Hoop earrings
  • Minimal makeup (though I don't wear heavy makeup on a day to day basis).
  • Mid height close toe pumps or wedges
  • Portfolio for resume and other essentials
  • My favorite hairstyle is a bun positioned at the nape of my neck or in the middle. 
  • A smile!

Depending on the industry and my mood, I may change my uniform as I see fit. Once I open my mouth, I let my light shine.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)
What's your interview uniform? What's your favorite hairstyle? Do you wear stockings?


  1. The last time I had an interview (November 2012), I too debated how I should look. Because I am natural these days, I thought a great deal about my hair. I found myself overly concerned with what my potential new employee would think about the state of my hair. Then I got upset that I had to even spend a moment in contemplation. I decided to me be. I didn't wear standard interview uniform -- though I am not advocating that you do this -- I wore khaki pants, a plaisley (sp?) blouse with a khaki suede jacket. Certainly not standard but I knew that I could get away with my clothing being unconventional because I work in higher ed. My hair was the showstopper. I decided to wear it in an afro puff so that my hair was certainly making a bold statement. I think in the end, I opted to let them know who I was. I was neat, professional, presentable, articulate, and knowledgeable. If my hair was going to knock me out of the box, then I didn't want to be there anyway.

    As you know, I got the job.

    So, to answer your three questions:

    1. I don't have an interview uniform but I do know what one looks like.
    2. My favorite style is whatever my hair will do in cooperation. The most conservative style would be a bun. An afro puff is a risky choice. I am an admitted non-conformist.
    3. Yes! I think that's a must as are closed toed shoes.

  2. What you wrote is basically what I wear. Black pants, suit jacket/blazer, shorter heel. Now that I'm natural that was a big concern for me too ... because in corporate America you don't really know how they'll embrace natural hair. I'm happy that in the end it didn't matter.

    I pinned my hair back. When I wore a skirt to an interview I wore stockings.

    My favorite is always a smile. That goes a long way.


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