Did you get some sort of instruction in college or high school on interviewing for a job? A little advice or maybe even a class or a seminar? I am pretty sure I had SOMETHING but I really don’t remember what. I do know, however, that on the east coast, when interviewing for pretty much any job, in the nineties and before I should say, who knows what people expect now, it was strongly recommended that one wear business clothes and when in doubt, err on the side of formal. Suit and tie for a guy. Suit, heels and hose for a girl. And when I say any job, I mean any job. I was in charge of interviewing people for a shoe sales position and if they showed up in jeans, they were not considered. Period. (Although, I do know that one girl I worked with interviewed in nice slacks, heels and a cropped sweater and got the job. I wouldn’t have hired her but
I am pretty sure that I went to every job interview I ever had at that time in a pretty formal business suit. Probably something staid and navy blue. Eh. Not my thing but yes, appropriate. I am also pretty sure that if I felt the need to show any individuality on a job interview I did it with a slightly funky bag or piece of jewelry.
Then I moved to California. New rules. New rules that I did not know and I could have never guessed. I showed up at interviews in my summer suit. Navy blue with white trim and blue heels. I got told that I was “overqualified” (OK, I probably was for at least one of those jobs but certainly not for all of them) and that I seemed “so serious!” And I couldn’t figure it out. I was properly dressed; I had a decent resume with no typos. What was wrong?
It wasn’t until I got a “drop off your portfolio” type of interview…where you don’t really interview but you drop off your samples and your resume and then if they like them, they will call you for a proper interview. Now, I was probably not really qualified for the job but hey, I was a textbook illustrator and a digital artist and damn if I was not going to apply for any job that I was even vaguely qualified for. I dressed up, dropped off my book and subsequently got the call to come pick it up…no interview. Fine, didn’t really expect one. I also did not expect to run into the guy who actually got the job in the lobby. And, for that matter, I did not expect his name to be “Crash” or for his pants to be baggy and sagging down past his boxer shorts due to the huge wallet chain. And aside from that, I didn’t expect him to be wearing yellow bug-eye glasses and to have his hair in a Mohawk. Nope, didn’t expect that at all. Look, I know I work in a fairly “creative” field but really? Really?
So I rethought every thing I knew. I went out and bought a new suit, but this time I kept it a little more casual. Scuba style jacket and short skirt, tee shirt underneath, funky chunky shoes and a man’s chunky watch. I retired my beautiful linen and leather satchel and replaced it with one made from recycled tires and seatbelts. Same me. Same sample book. But now, I had job offers.
And for the record, I still wore hose, because that’s what I was told to do when going to a job interview. Saved me too, the skirt was too big on the new suit and it got twisted around and I found myself in a casual interview, sitting next to the guy who might be my new boss with my skirt hitched up way too high and the kick pleat slit that should have been in the back now in the front. Believe me, I was glad to have the hose on that day.