Monday, July 28, 2008

Prep and Dress For Success

Never give up hope: I applied for a job in May, and never heard anything in reply (except for the auto-receipt email). Friday, I returned home from a business lunch to find an email from the hiring manager, who explained that the search had been delayed, and they were just beginning to interview candidates. I'll be meeting with her and two other people this afternoon.

The job is at a very large institute that over the past five years has interviewed and not hired me almost twenty times. But, as I said above, never give up hope. What I do know, is that this firm has super high expectations, and aims for uber-professionalism. So I have taken this into account as I prepare for the interview.

Some of my prep is basic: extra copies of my resume, my portfolio, full job description at hand, map and agenda ready, and so forth. Some of it goes further. I can't think of anyone who hasn't heard of this firm, or doesn't have a mental image of what they do, so I don't have to research the department that much. But I do anyway. I search for the people I'll be interviewing with, and find one on LinkedIn, one on Facebook, and one on an official bio on the firm's website. I go through the job description and match keywords with items found on the website. I copy the text into a Word document and write down something to say for myself to each point.

And then, I know that image is extraordinarily important to this firm, so I select my clothes carefully. I scan the news for images of people who work there, from panel presentations, promotional photos, and more. I notice the most prominent women are all wearing black suits with trousers, and cream or white blouses. My wardrobe offers up a Brooks Brothers white tailored blouse and a black crepe Tahari suit. A low-key scarf adds a splash of color. Everything is ironed, brushed and hung out to air. I arrange a ride to the interview, to avoid wrinkling myself on the subway.

My next step is a good face cleaning, and then lunch. There are few things more embarrassing than a stomach growl in an interview. After food, I will continue to review my material, arrange my hair and makeup (both to be professional and subdued), and the last thing I will do is get dressed, to avoid any wrinkles or cat hair I might pick up.

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