I’m back from my hiatus and ready to jump start things around here. I received a question about accessorizing for a job interview from a loyal reader and dear friend. So, here goes.
Dressing for an interview depends so much on the general line of work and the specific job responsibilities that the dress code varies wildly and what clothes you wear becomes all about judgment. But accessorizing is easier to tackle.
First, choose one or two pieces that make a statement. You are selling yourself as a brand at a job interview, which means that the whole package must send a consistent message. So, whatever your personal brand, choose statement pieces that clearly communicate it.
It could be a stunning animal print belt like this one from Mango (click image to view details) to pull together a black power suit:
Or a gorgeous cocktail ring like this Kevia piece to complement a professional sheath dress:
Or even a pair of earrings that add personality while looking sophisticated. Nothing dangling though – you want the interviewers to look at your face, not the movement of your jewelry. Try this pair from Topshop:
Once you choose your one or two statement pieces, keep the rest subtle and neutral.
Whatever your statement pieces, be prepared to talk about them or accept compliments. In fact, they could be great conversation starters. Back when I worked in technology, I would wear my Tau Beta Pi bent on a simple gold chain around my neck when I interviewed. If the interviewer knew his/her industry well enough, the piece would become an instant ice breaker. If not, then it would remain an inside joke for me to enjoy while still looking professional. If you are an architect who is profoundly influenced by Frank Gehry and you happen to have a Frank Gehry watch, wear it and be prepared to discuss his work. But if you do choose something related to your profession, make sure the pieces are tasteful and not costume-y, and that they actually have personal meaning to you.
Then there’s the bag. This is my personal pet peeve. When I was on the hiring side, I found it extremely unprofessional to watch candidates fumble around their seat at the end of the interview, trying to cram their belongings in one hand so they could respond to my handshake. Pick a bag that’s large enough to fit everything you will carry except your résumé folder (or portfolio). And I mean everything. That includes your keys, cell phone, wallet, makeup, business card holder and any parking pass you may be handed when you get there. If it’s raining, the bag needs to fit your umbrella. Expect that you will be offered a bottle of water during the meetings. The bag needs to hold that as well. And it needs to do this without looking frumpy. So, yes, put effort into choosing your bag.
Finally, the shoes. Like clothes, interview shoes are a matter of judgment. The only advice I have is to keep the heels between low and medium. You never know what kind of office setup you will encounter, and you may end up having to climb up and down stairs several times as you are directed from one conference room to the next. The last thing you want is to slow down your interviewer as you teeter around on your 5-inch heels.