Swapping the Cap & Gown for Interview Apparel

Ready For New Business ChallengesYou’re graduating college, congratulations! Seems like the cool thing to do these days, especially in Corvallis. But suddenly you realize you’re not a cool kid anymore, you’re a frightened, whimpering, pathetically terrified fledgling adult who hasn’t learned to fly yet—and by fly, we mean wrestle a job interview into submission.

The first step in learning to fly is not looking like a pathetic, whimpering adult to an interviewer. You will need to dress if you want success, and it is simpler than you think.

Let’s start from the ground up: shoes. Most people know this, but you should not wear your dirty, disgusting sneakers that smell like a small rodent died in them four weeks ago. Your potential boss can smell them from his desk. You will want a pair of nice shoes that won’t kill your feet but that look nice and shiny peeking out from under your fabulous pants or skirt that we will talk about in a moment. Selection is important, so check out some of these places when buying your shoes: Goodwill has lots of shoes at low prices—just make sure you disinfect them before you wear them; Sedlak’s in downtown Corvallis has comfy shoes—just make sure you don’t get distracted and buy five pairs of super-comfy boots and no pairs of interview shoes; and finally, TJ Maxx has a great selection, decent prices, but unlike Goodwill, you will miss out on the knowledge that the shoes you are wearing have been more places than you, so if you’re insecure about your adventurous side, this is probably the place for you.

Next up, the age-old debate: pants or skirt. If you are male, and you are not interviewing to be the mascot at your favorite Scottish watering hole, you will probably want to wear pants. You want blue, khaki, or black slacks that fit nicely on your waist (this isn’t prison, y’all) and that come to the bottom of the heel of your shoe, just above the ground. You will want to wear high black socks, so that when you sit down, there is no ankle skin showing. Ladies, you can wear slacks if you like. Make sure they fit nicely, without being too tight or too low on your waist. You can also wear a nice pencil skirt in the same range of colors. The skirt should be longer than the tips of your fingers when your arms hang straight down at your sides. You can find all of these things at TJ Maxx, Ross, Second Glance downtown for women, and Mehlhaf’s Clothiers downtown for men. You can also try the Alley for Men downtown, a great secondhand place.

Shirts are next. Men, no skater-boy T-shirts for you! A long-sleeved button-up that slightly contrasts your pants is appropriate for less formal interviews, but if you are feeling a little insecure, you can always wear a long-sleeved white button-up with a tie and suit jacket for any interview. You will need to have these items fitted, so go to Mehlhaf’s or Specialty Sewing by Leslie for help. Ladies, you can also wear a ladies’ suit jacket over a nice top. Let’s talk about that top for a moment. While certain professions are an exception, that‘s probably not the type of place you would use a college degree, so it’s best to be a bit modest. Make sure that when you buy a top, it is not extremely tight, it covers most of your chest (V-necks with a camisole underneath are perfect for this), and that the pattern, if it has one, is both appropriate and subtle. You can always accessorize with simple jewelry, just make sure to not go over the top.

Finally, always make sure to be clean and fresh. Men, this means either trimming your beard or being clean-shaven, not hung over, and ready for action. Ladies, make sure your hair is presentable; you don’t have to go nuts, but it’s best if it is out of your eyes.

 If all else fails, remember the words of the little orphan Annie: you’re never fully dressed without a smile. I mean, she scored big, being adopted by a millionaire and all, so she must know what she’s talking about! Just follow these simple tips, and soon you will turn the weak, sniveling victim of college into a confident, hard-working member of society! Good for you!

by Kyra Young


Counterpoint: Don’t Overdress Either

First, please take the advice Kyra is laying out for you. We of the would-be boss persuasion look for all sorts of signs from job seekers, cues for how well you will get along with everyone else at an organization being the primary subconscious and unavoidable one. Is that fair? Perhaps not, but it seems inexorably human.

Gentlemen, you may actually need Armani to nail that job at some places, but probably not. It could be a liability if you are so much better dressed than everyone currently working at a place that it’s off-putting. Ladies, the same applies to you—with a special caveat. Do not wear anything that would be appropriate alongside a man in a tux. Some of you do this at job interviews and we interviewers have no clue why, but it is off-putting.

Finally, of all the other hints one could posit outside of attire: be on time and, for crying out loud, be yourself—we hate having to guess who you are.

by Rob Goffins