If the mention of four weeks left in the semester sends you scrambling to the classifieds in search of a job, you aren’t alone. So if you think your résumé and stellar GPA are enough to land you that dream job, you’re wrong. Along with great credentials, shining references and that fabulous cover letter, you need to walk into your job interview dressed to employ.
Look like you’re serious about being a professional, even if you’re interviewing to be a barista. That means a suit for ladies and men. If it’s a more laid-back environment, it means a lighter colored suit for men and slacks, a conservative blouse and a cardigan for ladies.
The general guidelines, according to UNM’s Career Services, are a dark, two-piece suit (jacket and pants or a skirt); a white oxford shirt; conservative, dark leather shoes; a tie and minimal accessories. For the ladies, keep the makeup simple. Everything should fit well, and be in good condition and ironed.
If you’re unsure about the dress code of your potential employer, just ask. Call someone who works there or Google it, and then dress two steps above the usual. For example, if the dress code is khakis and a collared shirt, wear slacks, an oxford shirt and a tie.
No one expects you to show up in Armani Privé, but jeans are a definite no, as are T-shirts, sneakers, low-cut necklines, loud or flashy colors and patterns, visible undergarments and clothes that are too tight or loose. Also, don’t wear perfume or cologne — you never know who on your interview panel will be sensitive to fragrance. You want them to remember you, not the suffocating smell of your Polo Sport.
If you’ve got body modifications, make it appear as if you don’t. Mary Romero, who is in charge of hiring for the UNM peer learning facilitator program called PIUSS, said students should cover tattoos and remove piercings.
“At the end of the interview, when they ask if you have any questions, inquire about dress code policy,” she said. “Ask what is and isn’t allowed. It shows you respect the authority of your employer and whatever culture the potential job has, while still being honest about wanting to show your personality.”
Think of it like this: Will they remember the number of holes in my jeans or me? Will they be impressed by my experience or my ability to squeeze into a sausage casing?
“You don’t want anything to detract from your answers and your eye contact,” Romero said.
Secondhand and thrift stores are great places to find dress shirts and dress shoes. After half an hour polishing the shoes, the results will astound you. Suits go on sale regularly, especially in January and July. Some places, like Men’s Wearhouse, offer buy-one-get-one-free deals, so you can go with a buddy and split the cost.
Now that you’re set on what to wear, give your interviewing skills a high shine at UNM’s Office of Career Services, where you can schedule to have someone coach you on answering common interview questions and polishing your résumé, among other things. Visit career.unm.edu for more information. Happy job hunting!