In my post as Assistant Director of Career Services at Parsons School of Design, I got tons of questions from students and alumni, and one that came up the most is “What should I wear on my interview?”
While this may seem superficial, we all know that how you present yourself and what you’re wearing is how the employer will form their first impression of you and your style. Let’s face it, if the position is within the fashion business, then its only fair for the interviewee to judge your fashion sense by not only what you bring to the table, but what you’re wearing.When you look like you fit into their company culture, then you are more likely to be considered for hiring.
Here’s what I told students and alumni who have interviews in fashion:
1. Know your audience.
Before heading to your interview, be sure to take time to thoroughly research the company, go to its website and make a visit to the store (if applicable). Get to know the product, customer and aesthetic. If you know anyone who has ever been in the company’s environment, ask them about the way that people dress there and use that information to influence what you wear.
2. Fashion is a different animal.
A lot of career changers in particular are experienced with interviewing in other sectors (such as technology, medicine, real estate, etc.) The fashion industry in NYC has a different and less conservative view on the interview outfit, so the classic rule of “no jeans” sometimes may not apply. If you are going to a more high end, luxury place where the company culture is more business, then a suit may not be out of place, but wearing a traditional suit to an interview for a design internship may make you seem a bit stuffy and serious.
3. Look the part.
If the position is for an internship, then you don’t necessarily need to break out your Senior Exec power suit, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear something that shows your professionalism and your aspiration to become a Senior Exec, while also exhibiting your personal style and that you “get” who they are.
This tip is not an absolute, but we have found that it’s a nice gesture to wear something from the company that you’re interviewing with. This lets them know that you have an intimate knowledge and love for their product. This does not mean that you should break the bank or buy something new (if its Chanel, trust me there’s no need to go out and drop a few hundred just to interview), but if you think that it is the type of company that is into “who you’re wearing”, then it may be good to either wear labels that are aligned with their look, or whenever in doubt, wear vintage!
5. Always be neat and comfortable.
Even if the interview is with a grunge, surfer company where everyone wears jeans and sneakers, you want to be neat and polished (run a lent brush over the cat hair and break out the iron). If you already get manis or pedis, scheduling one before an interview is always a nice thing that people notice. Without going through a total diva makeover, you want to choose an outfit that you feel comfortable in. Sure, those Manolo stilettos may make you look like a fashionista, but if you can’t walk in them then what’s the point?
While these tips may be helpful, I felt that a lot of students were looking for more specifics. They wanted to know exactly what to wear. Alas, I decided to bring them a column entitled Interview Outfit of the Month! – every month I put together images of an interview outfit for a particular position/company, that I thought would be appropriate, and now I am sharing it with my escape artist family.
July – Summer Design Internship for Womens Wovens at JCrew…