Interview #1 – First Step Toward Change

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Today, I introduce my new journey to my readers by sharing the first of my interview outfits for the new job I mentioned in my last post. Interview #1 consisted of a written test on Web development basics, followed by questions from a panel of three interviewers. I was super lucky that I actually used to work with one member of the panel! I really felt that I blew the first interview despite days of mental preparation, as I hadn’t done one since 2001 and my skills in that area were more stale than I even realized. As an extreme introvert, answering unexpected questions posed by strangers on the spot is NOT one of my strong points… I really think that having a former colleague on the panel, and a good reputation in her eyes, did me some good. This is a perfect reminder of why it is so important to always do a great job and make the best possible impression on everyone you encounter in your work.

For interviews in an office environment, I believe in always wearing a blazer. The first time you walk in that door, you usually have no clue what the dress code is for a company. It’s not worth the risk of dressing too business casual and then finding that they are a full-on suit and tie kind of place. A blazer over a dress is a perfect in-between that would be appropriate in either case. Even if you turn out to be a bit over-dressed with the blazer, at least you’ve shown that you go to the effort to make a good first impression.

I chose a simple purple dress from Ross and black blazer from the Juniors department at Macy’s. The dress is neither low-cut nor snug-fitting at all. Interviews are never the time to use your va-va-voom, ladies. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I swapped out my animal-print glasses for a simple purple pair, and wore no jewelry except sterling silver stud earrings. A necklace would have been appropriate, as long as it was not too large or โ€œGothy,โ€ but I was trying to keep it simple.

Shoes are also supposed to be “not too tall” for interviews, so I wore one of my few โ€œlowโ€ pairs of heels (only 3 inches): a faux-suede peep toe with bows! I saw these on Meagan Kyla’s blog Coffin Kitsch in one of her โ€œShoes! OMG!โ€ features a while back, and immediately headed to the Target Web site to order them. Target shoes sadly start at size 5.5, so these are a bit large for me, but a nice heel pad and tights help them stay put. ๐Ÿ™‚

My cartilage piercing, plus the unseasonal wearing of opaque black tights in the spring, were the only real indicators of my nonconformity. Plus, I stuck with black and a dark jewel tone. My side bun is also definitely a very non-popular hair style. ๐Ÿ™‚ These elements made me feel enough โ€œmyselfโ€ to be comfortable in my skin while not feeling like I was calling an inappropriate amount of attention to my appearance.

I’ll talk about my โ€œinterview makeupโ€ in my next post, when I present my Interview #2 Outfit.

I truly believe that the interview process is simply not the time to distract people with aesthetic representations of your amazing depth of unique personality. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s a time to let them focus on your skills and your ability to communicate.

Of course, all of my advice in this post applies to interviewing for an office job, because that’s the area in which I have experience.ย  It’s also all just my opinion, but it has worked for me.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

What would you wear to interviews? Do you think appropriate interview attire varies based on the industry the job falls under?


All images and text ยฉ Sophistique Noir Gothic Fashion Blog. Do not use any photos or text from this blog without providing a credit to me and a link back to the original post.

26 Comments:

  1. I love your outfit, I think, it's perfect for a job interview! The blazer is gorgeous with the wrinkled seam and that purple is amazing! You look elegant and confident without being high – contrast, but stylish!^^I do believe, that the industry or the type of the job itself somewhat defines the interwiev attire. I don't have experience in areas besides office jobs either, but I like to wear shirts with a blazer and I prefer skirts.

  2. I think this is a great interview outfit. You look smart, professional, confident and sophisticated.I'm trying to decide what to wear for my PhD upgrade panel at the moment so your advice has been really helpful. I'll definitely wear a blazer now, although I probably would have anyway. Perhaps my dark red dress…

  3. I'm a little surprised about the shoes. The rest of the outfit is very toned down but those shoes are definitely not. ๐Ÿ™‚ Fortunately it seems that the masses are generally okay with crazy shoes. Not that your shoes are "crazy", but to the majority of people in an office… you know what I'm talking about. :)You did a great job with being toned down and keeping it professionally conforming without losing too much of your unique sense of style. The outfit is still totally you. Just not in a Goth way. I love wearing blazers to interviews as well. I have one business suit that is not very typical of business suits- an asymmetrical blazer with 3/4 length sleeves, a wide collar, and a zipper (which is lined up diagonally on the blazer) with a gray skirt. I also have a streamlined grey dress from H&M that I use for interviews on hot days.I do think appropriate interview attire differs from industry to industry. You're not going to walk into a tattoo parlor in a business suit, I am sure. Or a food industry job. And for clothing retail it's probably best to wear something similar to what the retailer sells rather than a business suit to show familiarity with the style of the retailer and loyalty to the brand.

  4. I really enjoy reading your blog posts.Your writing style is as elegant as your clothes.You're a fashion icon.

  5. Your outfit is stunning! You look very professional yet somehow I can still see the goth in you. And it's not just that I know what your style is like outside the business world, but the dark elegance is still there. ๐Ÿ™‚ (You remind me of one man roughly your age who used to take the same bus with me every work morning. Although I didn't know him and he was perfectly business-credible, I just somehow saw he was a goth. Later I've got to know him and well, I was right, he's a goth. :D)I guess we work roughly in the same industry, media and design and the likes. I think the purple dress really implies that you're a creative person. I could imagine wearing something similar to work or a job interview too. At the moment my work outfits vary a lot depending on how I'll be spending the day; if I know I can just sit in front of my computer in my corner, I may wear something very, very casual, because the others do too and won't care about what I wear. If I know I'll be meeting a client, I'm more careful. However, I don't hesitate to show I'm quirky and creative, but I wouldn't still wear the most macabre accessories I own. In fact my make-up is the most radical part of my work looks. :)I really think appropriate interview attire depends on the industry. I'm not sure what the offices in creative industry are like in the US, but over here I would expect them to be relatively tolerant, and I would be surprised if I found one with an actual strict dress code. Personally I'm slightly stubborn though. ๐Ÿ™‚ Although I enjoy putting up a corporate goth look, I do still want to hint that my sense of style may be slightly strange. I wouldn't have a problem hiding my style altogether if I was working in a hospital, but as long as I do design, I want that to be obvious in my style too.

  6. Very nice, classic outfit for an interview! I suspect that, since you & I are in California, the idea of a suit as standard interview clothes seems a bit old-fashioned, unless you are a lawyer or banker. Suits can definitely risk you looking over-dressed, even out of touch, more often than not. But a structured jacket & dress/skirt/pants looks just right. Serious, but not overly formal. I also love the mix of colors. It's dark, yet still approachable, whereas all-black, on first meeting, can seem intimidating or cold. Interviews are a time to appear friendly & approachable, no matter how shy we really are. Fake it till ya make it — & you made it!

  7. You gave a lot of good advices in this post. I only can imagine how tough this interview process have been. When I was changing job I found a site for interviewers so I knew all those tricky questions I could get, that was one of the best preparations for me :)You outfit is perfect, you looked lovely and professional.

  8. You never stop surprising me! I think this post is really handy to anyone who has a job interview in a non-casual environment. The mixture between blazer and dress seems perfect to me and I think Iยดll keep it in mind next time. I am a teacher and I think this look is great for a position of such a kind.Thank you very much for the idea!

  9. Le Professeur Gothique

    Oh honey!!! I can't express to you just how excited I am for you and your new beginning! I'm reading this saying, "HELL YEAH! You go get 'em Ms. Kitty!" You look polished, beautiful and confident! SUPER DUPER confident. In academia it's much the same: suit, definitely a blazer, and sensible shoes. Art historians tend to commend a bit of sass and artfulness. So, I usually wear a nice tailored suit with a gorgeous pin or scarf. Something colorful that offsets the black.

  10. pensive pumpkin

    Nice choice!I definitely agree that it depends on the industry. As an attorney, I don't feel I could get away with even the tights, much less those AMAZING shoes at a job interview. To be honest, I've thought of that every single time I've fallen head over heels for a tattoo. Love them, but covering them would just be too hard on an everyday basis.Awesome job here. Personality plus professionalism.

  11. I have shoes that look exactly like those, except they're Steve Madden and I got them at Maurices.

  12. Yay! I'm glad my shoe posts appeal to my blogger ladies! They look killer with your interview chic! I agree about wearing a blazer for an interview and all other points about interview attire. I used to hire a lot of people during my past management positions and I would hire you in an instant ;)GOOD LUCK!!!!!!

  13. Great interview outfit! You look polished and very confident. I think appropriate interview attire can vary depending on the location as well as the industry. While a suit would be appropriate in Washington, DC, it would be overkill in a town like Boulder, Colorado, where "dressing up" means wearing khakis and sneakers instead of shorts and flip-flops. But it's always better to err on the side of overdressing if you're not sure.

  14. I hope you get the job, so best of luck, sweetie!One of my close friends had an interview yesterday that freaked her out because it was so formal, and as she is also quite introverted, she felt she did not perform so well and she started crying when it was over! Poor thing.I think you would make a good impression with this outfit. I once read a body language book that said glasses always give the impression of sophistication and intelligence too. :)I'm so happy for you that you've decided to make this big change. Good luck!

  15. I agree with not wearing all black to an interview. I myself wore a burgundy dress when I interviewed for my current position nearly 10 years ago. In my case, I've also chosen to not wear makeup, as I need quite a bit to feel "finished", which would stick out here. I also completely understand about the shoes. I'm lucky if they start at 5.5, since most of what I like tends to start at 6. :/

  16. Looking very smart! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I just had an interview yesterday, and I decided to go for a subtle retro look. Hopefully I get a call back, because I could have done a lot better in the interview. I'm also introverted, so I don't exactly love it when strangers ask me personal questions on the spot either.

  18. You look so pretty! That shade of purple really works well for your skin tones. ^_^

  19. This looks fabulous. I'd happily wear a similar outfit myself to an interview!

  20. Perfect and you got the job so you obviously chose well.I like those shoes! I must have missed that post.

  21. woah, pretty! and for sure perfect for an interview!when i was looking for my new job i was wearing white pants (geriatric nurse, thats why) and decent makeup & things and still one woman who was working for a 'looking for a company' company (hm, hows that called btw?!) said i was looking too dark and she would have to warn the company o.O seriously. the boss from the company she was doing the interview for was laughing when he heard why (i have to mention a lot of his clients that he was trying to fond a private nurse – me – for also do have tattoos…). i would have gotten that job but said no because of that experience. now i work in a geriatric home where most people have dyed hair, piercings, tattoos or whatever and still we all are good in our job (and boss knows). hope you will feel this good in your new job, too!

  22. It seems the UK is possibly a bit more conservative in terms of business wear than the USA. I was recently at an interview for an admin post at Asda (Walmart's stores in the UK) and we had a group interview including everyone from potential warehouse staff to potential office and managerial staff, and a lot of people wore quite formal business attire – the ladies about as formally dressed as your interview attire, the younger girls were more casual though, and all the male applicants were in suits. I don't like it when young people (I sound old! I'm only in my mid twenties myself!) don't make the effort for interviews. There was a young lad who was in his final year of school looking for evening work, and he was wearing a suit with a grey shirt and a tie and gave to me a good impression, and I'd think he probably gave a good impression to the prospective employers as well. I wore a black velvet pencil skirt with purple opaque tights, a purple and black narrow-stripe blouse and black blazer and had minimal makeup (I do have to darken my eyebrows as they are plucked very thin). The weather was really hot and the office was quite warm and stuffy, so I am quite glad I did not wear my trouser suit as I would have roasted.

  23. Le Professeur, I definitely didn't nail it on the sensible shoes, as Unlacing pointed out. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank goodness I'm in SoCal, where a little bit of quirk is easily overlooked. And I'm a designer, so that helps!!Lynoire, thanks!! I have a short-sleeve blazer with the same detail in the front seam, and it's my all-time favorite blazer, so I was thrilled to find the same thing in a long-sleeve version to hide my tattoo. I'll get a LOT of use out of it!Cemetery Dreamer, thank you! Definitely go for the blazer. It sounds like you have the smarts to know just the right thing to wear. A red dress with a black blazer would be awesome!Unlacing, I know exactly what you mean about the shoes. It's hard to keep perspective when what seems toned-down to us might seem crazy to more conservative people! These are definitely one of my more conservative pairs of shoes, particularly in terms of heel height… I'd say sometimes it's best to leave a little hint of your individuality in your interview looks, to avoid putting the new employer in a full-on "bait and switch" situation. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But yeah, in some places these shoes could definitely be too much personality for the first impression! Being so close to Los Angeles, I think I might have a bot more flexibility than people in other areas… Playing it safe is always the best bet. Good point about the retail clothing industry! That's definitely an area where what you wear would matter a lot, and it would also be easy to scope it out beforehand to make sure one is dressed appropriately for the interview!pensive pumpkin, good point! I didn't think much about the shoes before my interviews (I just looked for a pair that had the lowest heel!) but these would be a very poor choice for a legal field. Thankfully, I'm a graphic designer, so I don't think anyone batted an eyelash over the quirky shoes. ;)Kathy Moonlight, thank you so much! That's the first time I've ever been called an icon. So awesome! :)Raphael, lol about your Goth radar! It really does show through in some people, even when we try to hide it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, I am a graphic designer… In the Web industry I tend to work more with IT people than other creatives, but colleagues still often offer me unsolicited comments such as "well of course you're going to look a bit artsy! You're a designer!" I love that this field makes that somewhat acceptable. I had one job interview right after college where the interviewer told me they were relieved that I "looked like a designer" because most of the other candidates had been too corporate for their tastes.

  24. linnea-maria, I definitely should have spent more time on those sites! ;)Violette, thank you for your kind words! I would be honored if you find my examples helpful in future job hunts!katysioux, cool! They are awesome shoes, and I bet the Steve Madden ones are even more comfy!Meagan Kyla, thanks!! And thanks for your Shoes! OMG! feature. You've shown so many awesome shoes to drool over, even though I've only been able to actually get this one pair. :)Bane, excellent point about location! I think we can get away with a lot in SoCal, really, as long as we're not in the legal field or such. For anyone unsure of the typical business attire for a particular city, it might even be wise to scope out some office buildings in the area before an interview.Alexandriaweb, thanks!! :)Hexotica, I got the job!! ๐Ÿ˜€ I'm so sorry about your friend. She might have made a much better impression on them than she thought – us introverts can be our own worst critics because we spend so much time thinking about everything!! I hope she has success in her job hunt soon. Every interview is practice for the next one!

  25. Minakitty, I think I'm kinda feeling the same way about the makeup… I almost felt less attractive wearing the earth-tone look for these interviews than I would have in just some very light eyeliner and blush. Have you tried Pleaser shoes? Most of their styles start at size 6, but they run VERY small so a 6 usually works perfectly on my size 5 feet. Demonias are often the same, although I did order one pair from them in a 6 that was huge.OddGhoulOut, like I said to Hexotica, I think us introverts are a LOT harder on ourselves in such matters than those who we are talking to. I wish you the best of luck!! I'm crossing my fingers for you.AngelShinigami, thanks! This is one of my very favorite colors, for sure!Julianne, thanks! I'm glad to know that my judgement with this outfit was on the mark.Lady Bethezda, thanks! Yes, it did the trick! :-Dkakuidori, I think what you are describing sounds like a staffing agency, where they help you find a job? Wow – she "warned" them?? That's terrible that she was so judgmental. It sounds like things worked out perfectly for you, though! I'm so glad you are in an environment where you ca somewhat be yourself. I truly hope I'll feel so at home in my new job!HouseCat, you are probably right about that. I think the US is getting a little too casual. Great point about the weather somewhat dictating your interview wear. If I had tried to wear a long-sleeve blazer in the midst of a 110 degree summer day here in the desert, the heat would have probably made me totally blow the interview. I think a long-sleeve nicely tailored blouse would be the next best thing in such a case, or a business dress. The outfit you described sounds lovely (and just enough personality!).

  26. What a great look. In all three interview outfits you shaped your style to fit the corporate environment but didn't lose your own personal style in the process. Love the ideas. Congrats again! I'm so excited for you!

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