Monday, June 29, 2015

Five CorpGoth Interview Tips

In the past few years, I've gone on dozens of interviews as I've searched for my ideal job. What to wear to an interview is always a consideration -- not as crucial as writing the perfect resume and cover letter or making a great impression during the phonescreen and in the interview itself, but how you look will be part of that first impression, so it does matter, there's no denying it.

For goths and others with non-mainstream appearances, we have to ride the line between self-expression and fitting in to the desired job's requirements and company culture. The potential employer has to be able to see you as someone who already works there, and anything that distracts, whether in your CV or your fashion, is not a helpful.

You'll probably want to tone down the overall goth effect, but you shouldn't have to hide your true self entirely either. How you balance this will depend on what kind of job you're applying for, what industry you're working in, and how advanced you are in your career. But in my experience, these few tips may help...

1. Research the employer to find out what's appropriate. In Silicon Valley, most companies are business casual, but industries like finance and law will tend to be more conservative and (literally) buttoned-up. Retail jobs will vary wildly, and academic positions can have their own very specific cultures. Big corporations may have information on their websites that give ideas about what it's like to work there, and you get a lot of insider info about tech companies on Ask around, online and off. Be prepared! You don't want to be wearing suits when nobody wears suits or vice versa.

2. Reconsider all black. Yes, wearing all black is often a safe bet for goths, but it can appear too goth, too dark, too morbid for first appearances. Remember the Gothic Color Theory, and break up black with one other dark color or white. Or try a pattern like stripes. Mixing it up and avoiding all black can make you look more approachable and friendly in an interview.

3. Have one (but just one) personal trademark. Is your hair hot pink? Do you have full sleeve tattoos? If you have something permanent and visible, that's going to be your trademark, the visual cue people will remember from your interview. Try not to clutter up your style with anything else. Otherwise, pick one thing -- such as a great piece of jewelry or killer boots -- and let that be your trademark.

4. Dress one notch more formally for casual workplaces. Particularly with places like retail and high-tech, where it looks like everyone is dressed super casually, you may want to start off by interviewing just a smidge more dressy than what is standard on the job. Don't go super-formal, just a touch more. So if everyone is wearing jeans, wear trousers or a skirt, for example.

5. Remember that shoes and bags matter. You don't need to spit-polish your boots or carry a designer bag, just pay attention to your accessories. Having a cohesive, polished head-to-toe look will help give a professional first impression, gothic or not. Shine up an nasty scuffs on those pointy-toe boots, and swap out a simple tote bag instead of a backpack. You'll inevitably need to grab a copy of your CV out of that bag, so it should look as presentable as the rest of you.

In interviews for jobs I've gotten, I've talked about sewing historical costumes, and interviewers have complimented me on my bat necklace and skull earrings. I do let my freak flag fly, but subtly, and after I've gotten my foot in the door. Besides, if any potential employer Googles me, they'll find this blog and my costume website, so it's not like I can hide anyway!

What I'm wearing: Black cardigan, Macy's | Purple T-shirt, Target | Grey striped skirt, Nordstroms | Black tights, Calvin Klein | Black flats, Aerosoles | Grey beaded necklace, gift from a friend | Onyx skull earrings, local artist

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