Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Over the weekend, I went to Target and of course I was dressed to the nines...and by nines, I mean my pajamas. I figured...I'll run in, get a few things, run out...who could I possibly run into at 9am on a Sunday? Plenty of people...that's who. I got back in my car and just laughed to myself...I am a sweats-hair in a ponytail-no makeup kind of girl...always have been; always will be. I'm low maintenance and don't think I could be anything different. And both people that I ran into, know that's who I am and weren't fazed by my oscar winning outfit.

But when it comes to work and how I prepare my candidates, I fly by one rule - NEVER LET YOUR OUTFIT BE THE REASON YOU DON'T GET A JOB!!!! I can't tell you how many times candidates have lost out on great opportunities because they weren't dress appropriately. Red suits to uber-corporate companies; low cut shirts that were only meant for dark clubs; white see-through shirts with black bras...and the best was a candidate who went on a final interview at a fashion company and when complimented on her shirt, said, "Thank you...it's from YOUR COMPETITOR." (She got the job but still...what was she thinking???) I can't stress enough how what you wear is as important as what it says on your resume. So here are the basics...follow these fool proof dress tips and you're a shoe in to at least get past hello:

1. Wear a neutral colored suit (black, navy, grey, beige). It should not be dirty or wrinkled and should fit relatively well. Nothing too tight. If you can't button it, that's ok, but you shouldn't look like you're busting out of it.

2. NO cleavage, camel toes or visible g-strings...VPL (visible panty lines) in general are a big NO NO!

3. DO NOT WEAR PERFUME. I've never had a client tell me that a candidate smelled good...the only feedback I've ever received was, "Her perfume was WAY TOO STRONG..." If the client can still smell you after you've left, chances are it will be the last time you see each other.

4. Your makeup should look like you're not wearing any. Interviews are not the time to try that new metallic blue eye shadow you saw in Vogue. Keep it simple. Some foundation/cover up, a little blush, a little mascara, a little lipstick/gloss. That's it. Clowns and drag queens need not apply! (This is in no way to imply that I don't like clowns or drag queens...I just don't have any openings for them right now so unless you're applying for one of those jobs, keep the makeup to a minimum).

5. Undergarments should remain just that...UNDER your garments. There's nothing worse then when a candidate picks up her bag off the floor and I get a beautiful view of her purple g-string. Make sure all skin is properly tucked away.

6.  Unless you're Mr. T, jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Additionally, it should be seen but NOT heard. Don't wear every bangle in your jewelry box and don't wear a million necklaces because it was also written about in Vogue (see #4).

7. Hide your tattoos and remove all piercings except cultural/religious ones, those that can't be seen and the traditional earring in each ear - preferably studs. If you choose to wear hoops, please make sure small animals CANNOT jump through them. Ideally keep them minimal, classy and about the size of a quarter or smaller.

8. Your hair should be styled and out of your face. If you tend to play with it, curl it around your finger or chew it, pull it back. A ponytail or barrette is ideal, or nicely tucked behind your ears will suffice...as long as it stays there.

9. Your nails should be either manicured or free of polish. Chipped polish is a big no no. If you are a nail biter, as I have been for my entire life, try to get your hands in the best condition you can before the interview. I know asking you to stop biting before something that's probably causing you to bite in the first place is a tough request, but if you can stop biting for a day or two and take the time to file them, moisturize and apply a clear coat of polish, they will look perfectly presentable for your interview.

10. Do your research. If you are interviewing with an investment bank, chances are you will need to wear a skirt suit, stockings and closed toe shoes. Creative companies tend to be a little bit more lenient when it comes to your outfit. However, I would still air on the side of conservative. No one has ever lost out because they were dressed too corporate.

MEN (your preparation is definitely much easier)
1. see #1 above

2. Be clean shaven. That means shave the MORNING of your interview and be sure to avoid razor burn. I've interviewed men who've made me uncomfortable because it looked like their razor burn was excruitiatingly painful.

3. See #3 above except exchange COLOGNE for PERFUME!

4. Comb your hair and don't use too much product. Too much gel only looks good on Gordon Gekko, Pat Riley and The Situation.

5. DON'T SMOKE BEFORE AN INTERVIEW...Ladies - this goes for you too! I cannot say it enough times. No one will hire an ashtray and while I personally don't think you should EVER smoke, if you must, do it AFTER the interview.

6. Pinky rings should be left at home. Nuff said!

7. see #7 above (minus the part about the hoops)

8. Make sure your shoes are polished...or at the very least NOT scuffed. And they should be appropriate for an interview. Unless it's a blizzard, any shoe that you'd wear to shovel snow, watch a sporting event or to play a sport is not appropriate for an interview.

9. see #9 above

10. I feel you should always wear a suit as you don't have as many options as women do. However, if you are interviewing at a creative company and feel a suit would not be appropriate, slacks and a nice button down work (although chest hair should NOT be seen)...tie is optional. Jeans, flip flops, shorts or tank tops are NEVER acceptable.

I will say one more thing before signing off. Many of you who are just out of school or currently unemployed should NOT feel the need to spend money on interview clothes. A firm handshake, good eye contact and a great smile will get you further than anything else.

I remember in the movie, "Pursuit of Happyness," the interviewer asked Christopher Gardner (Will Smith), "What would you say if a man walked in here with no shirt, and I hired him? What would you say?" To which Christoper replied, "He must have had on some really nice pants."

Good night and happy job hunting,
The Job Yenta

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