Interview #3 – The Grand Finale

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About two hours after I left Interview #2, I got a call from my new company inviting me to come back and meet the third-in-command. I knew at this point that as long as this guy liked me, I’d most likely have an offer coming. It was a relief to actually have a one-on-conversation this time, rather than panels like the prior two interviews. #3 was just a nice conversation, and I had the opportunity to ask a LOT of questions about the company. I strongly recommend that when you are interviewing for a job, you should interview them as well. That’s your chance to make sure you’d really feel comfortable in the environment if you got the job. The answers to my questions about office politics and company culture left me without a doubt that this was a good move for me.

I was told this would be more of an informal “getting to know you” kind of conversation, so I tailored my outfit to this vibe. I wanted to wear something a bit less serious than in the presentation for Interview #2, and something extremely cheerful to help me shine. I stumbled upon this this magenta blazer on sale at Sears. It’s perfect because it’s not fully long-sleeved, but unlike most ¾ sleeves these just managed to hide my tattoo (even with my arm extended). This was fortunate, because it was a bit warm on the afternoon of this interview. The fit isn’t 100% perfect, but I didn’t have time to tailor it at all. I think I can get a bit better fit out of it before the next wearing with my meager alteration skills!

I paired the blazer with an aubergine sleeveless shell and my floral-on-black scarf. I added a black skirt that had a bit more character than the pencil skirt from the previous meeting, but still something simple, on the long side and not too snug.

Some of you will be relieved to see that I switched up the shoes and went with my typical patent Mary Janes. 😉 Although at 4” the heel is a bit high on these, they are otherwise plain enough not to attract much attention. However, please keep in mind that I’m in Southern California, so I can get away with a bit in the shoe department. In other regions, you might not want to wear more than a 2-3” heel to an interview. It’s always better to go lower if there is any doubt. I felt comfortable enough by this point in the process that I thought these would be fine.

I must have done something right with all of these interview outfits, because I got the job!  Two days after this third interview, they had completed the reference checks, had me go in for a physical (?!) and then officially gave me the offer.

Thanks to everyone who offered advice on what to do with my makeup for my first day. I think I will go with a dark grey as a few of you suggested. It would suit me much better than the brown!

Now the question is, what to wear on the first day? Should I stick with blazers for the first couple of weeks, or move on to a tailored, tucked-in long-sleeve blouse and simple skirt?


All images and text © 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.

Interview #2 – The Presentation

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The day after my first interview for my new position, I got a call inviting me back for a second interview with the next people up in the chain of command. I was thrilled to find that they were impressed enough with me in the first meeting to continue me on to the next phase of the recruitment process. It also helped that I have an immense amount of experience in a somewhat specialized area of Web site management that was exactly what they need…

I was a bit surprised by the assignment for the second interview. They asked me to design and build a whole Web site with a fictitious theme of their choosing, then come in and present it to a panel of four people. While I was a bit scared by the immense undertaking ahead of me (on a very short deadline), I was thrilled because they were asking me to do what I am best at, and I knew they would be impressed with the results.

I had six days to complete the project, but had to work 10-hour days at my old job for three of those days. So I spent lunches, evenings and my entire 3-day weekend on this project. I tried to think of every possible detail I could include, made my design and code immaculate, and ran the whole thing by several friends and family members to get input and look for mistakes. Then I prepared a very detailed presentation of the site. I wasn’t sure what they were going to look for or ask me when they saw the finished project, so I was prepared for any possibility I could think of. It was the toughest challenge I’ve ever had as part of trying to get a job! I walked out of that presentation with some very nice kudos from all of the panel members. I pretty much knew at that point that this was all going to work out.

I chose to wear something like what I would wear to make any professional presentation. However, my supply of long-sleeved blazers being miniscule, I had to track down a new one in my size in less than a week! That’s no small task when you live in a small-ish town that is very casual. So I hunted online, found this one at Express, then called around to stores in the LA area to find one that had my size in stock. Mr. Kitty commutes to LA for work, so when I found one I had them hold it and he so sweetly went to pick it up. Luckily, it was indeed the perfect fit. And thankfully I had a coupon I had found online, because Express career wear is not cheap. But I don’t have many other “splurge” pieces in my closet that are office-appropriate, and this jacket was WELL worth the cost. It even has a little flair at the bottom that makes it very figure-flattering.

I almost felt overdressed in this outfit, but the IT director, who was part of this panel, was wearing a suit and tie. So I made the right choice. To keep this look from feeling too corporate, I paired the blazer with a white lace blouse, and the vintage brooch that belonged to Mr. Kitty’s mother. A simple black pencil skirt from Target and black tights finished the monochromatic look I was going for. There is something about the combination of black, white and grey that always feels edgy to me, even if the style of the outfit really isn’t alternative at all. I wore the same bow-decked heels as in the first interview to further enhance the femininity of this look. I felt powerful, professional and confident in this outfit.

For all three interviews, I wore the same makeup look. I used a very dark brown eyebrow powder instead of my usual black, to tone the look down just a bit. I used a shimmery pearl-colored shadow over my whole lid (heavier on the lower lid and more subtle on the brow bone), then a bit of taupe shadow in the crease. Instead of my usual thick black liquid line on the top lid, I used the same dark brown brow powder, applied with a damp brush, to create a soft line along the top lid. I used mascara on the top lashes only, my usual blush (applied lightly) and a rose-colored lip gloss. My eyebrow shape is still distinctly non-mainstream, but the toned-down makeup made my look just undramatic enough. I don’t really care for how I look in brown-toned makeup, particularly that taupe shadow that just happened to be the only earth-tone shadow I had (a free sample with something I had once ordered). I probably won’t wear this look on my first day, but I’ll definitely go subtle until I see how others in the office look.

What do you think I should do for my “First Day at the New Job” makeup?

All images and text © 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.

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. 😉 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 “Gothy,” 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 “low” 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 “Shoes! OMG!” 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. 🙂

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. 🙂 These elements made me feel enough “myself” 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 “interview makeup” 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. 😉 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.  It’s also all just my opinion, but it has worked for me.  🙂

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 © 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.