What I Wore to the Interview
April 28, 2017 | Filed in: Your Closet
Whether you’re a recent college grad or well-established in your career, choosing a killer interview outfit is never easy. That’s what we’re here for! Every day, our stylists field requests from customers about what to wear on such occasions—whether they’re hoping to land an internship or an executive position. This week, we’re sharing stories from three different women about what they wore for job interviews in their respective fields. And remember, we’re always ready to help—because while your outfit is important, it should also be the easiest part of that day.
Lily, age 24
Job: Private Equity Associate
After I graduated from college, I worked in investment banking, and I knew I wanted to go into private equity. There’s an intense recruiting cycle, and I would rush from firm to firm for back-to-back interviews. I was often going non-stop from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Needless to say, I needed an interview outfit that was comfortable (and sweat-resistant).
As far as dress codes go, private equity definitely falls on the business-formal end of the spectrum. It was a no-brainer to wear a suit to the interviews. I knew I probably wouldn’t wear suits on a daily basis if I were to get the job, but I wanted to show that I was serious about the role. There are very few women in private equity, and I wanted an outfit that would give me confidence and let me do the talking.
Suits can sometimes be synonymous with frumpiness, which I made sure to avoid—I wanted a tailored power silhouette that made me feel like a boss. I ultimately decided on a three piece outfit: the Albright jacket and matching Cornelia skirt in onyx weave, with the Crawford top layered underneath. I accessorized with my favorite necklace and my mom’s watch as a good luck charm.
Rather than go out and buy a new suit for my interviews, I stuck to an outfit I already owned. I wanted an ensemble I knew fit me well and was comfortable. I don’t wear suits very often, but this one makes me stand a little bit taller every time I put it on—I’m never self-conscious in it. There are enough things to focus on without having to worry about what to wear!
I ended up with a few offers at private equity firms, and will start an associate role this summer.
Tess, age 54
Job: Program Coordinator, University of Colorado
I recently interviewed for a program coordinator position at the University of Colorado. The role was in an institute that focuses on philanthropy and social enterprise. It combined two of my passions: education and service. When it came to dressing for the interview, I drew on my past experiences working in educational institutions, but also tailored my outfit based on the person I was meeting.
I’ve worked at a few schools in the past, all of which tended towards casual dress codes. Especially in Colorado, it’s rare to see people dress up for work. I was told that I’d be meeting with the executive director, and although I didn’t know him personally, I could see through my research that he tended to dress more formally than many other employees on campus. Since he is one of the most senior people in the organization, I wanted to dress up to his level.
I have a handful of MM pieces in my wardrobe, but I always come back to the Soho skirt and Winfrey top. For my interview, I tucked the top into the skirt so that it looked like I was wearing a dress. When worn as a set, the pieces look polished and put together, but also relaxed enough for the university campus. I love how comfortable these pieces are. Since the interview was conversational and I knew we’d be sitting for a while, I wanted an outfit that didn’t require fidgeting, constant re-tucking, or worrying about showing too much skin. These pieces are flattering and beautifully designed, but they don’t scream for attention—the focus was on me and what I was saying.
I’ve learned that I’d rather be dressed up than too casual for interviews. It shows respect for the organization and the role. This role was public-facing, so I wanted my outfit to present me as an appropriate representative for the kind of constituents I would interact with.
While I ultimately didn’t get the job, I hit it off with the program’s director. We promised to stay in touch, and we have. We realized the position wasn’t quite right for me, but I’ve found other ways to collaborate with the Institute.
Claire, age 32
Job: Senior Features Editor
I’ve spent most of my career at women’s publications, so I’ve always worked tangentially to the fashion industry. However, I’m not a “fashion person”—I want to look put-together, but I don’t enjoy the process of fussing over outfits. Whenever I’ve worn something very fashion-forward (usually under the direction of one of my fashion editor colleagues), I wind up wanting to crawl into a hole—it’s just not me. That’s why I go for very simple, streamlined outfits, and steer away from identifiable designer labels—I’m not the kind of girl who wants to look like I just stepped off a runway. I wear a lot of MM clothes for that reason.
When I was in the final round of interviewing for my job as the senior features editor at a major women’s magazine, I was called in to meet with the editor-in-chief. She is very much a fashion person, which I knew. I wanted to look tasteful, elegant, and chic, like someone who was capable of representing the publication, but I didn’t want to go out on a limb—I don’t think interviews are the time to try a look you’re not familiar with. I also wanted to wear something comfortable, and that wouldn’t reveal the fact that I’d be sweating up a storm.
I wound up choosing the Rachel dress in black, because it’s a classic silhouette and I know it fits me perfectly. It’s also made of soft, stretchy ponte, which doesn’t show sweat (again, very important). I did my best to muster some fashion cred by adding a pair of black and gold Yves Saint Laurent wedges (I got them at a sample sale years ago) and chunky onyx earrings. The dress allowed me to breathe and move and gesture during the interview, which also reminded me to sit up straight and speak confidently. And I got the job.