Don’t Make the Mistake of Wearing a Suit

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I  learned that Google thinks it’s perfectly fine to wear jeans and t-shirts to interviews for positions in the company. The company culture dictates that you should be relaxed and your attire should reflect  your personal level of comfort. This is contrary to what I thought I knew about appropriate dress for an interview. This essentially means a student in a suit may be have been perceived as inappropriately dressed  when interviewing with Google.  Yet  I know of student who  interviewed for Google in a suit and was extended an offer for a summer internship.  He told me that he was instructed to dress in attire that he felt comfortable.   The position for which he interviewed was in business to business sales.

While a conservative (not black) suit is considered ideal, companies such as Google remind us that a suit is not the only option. It is crucial that you research the companies in which you have an interest. Learn as much as you can about the company culture BEFORE you interview, because you don’t want to make the mistake of wearing a suit when jeans and a t-shirt will be just fine.

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How Are You Showcasing Your Talents and Interests?

Have something to showcase.

Have something to showcase.

What steps are you taking today to achieve your ultimate career goal?

What projects are you pursuing that demonstrates your commitment to your stated area of interest?

What are you doing to prove that you are more than just talk?

For example if you have an interest in fashion how does your resume  and experience showcase your dedication to this area?  What have you done that  illustrates your passion and excitement for this field?  For example have you interned with any designers?  Do you write or contribute to fashion blogs?  How about a YouTube show where you discuss  fashion trends?  It isn’t enough to have lofty and exciting goals, you must also demonstrate your commitment to these goals based on your activities. Your activities serve to a potential employer as proof of your stated area of interest.  If you can’t  showcase your interest then it’s just talk.

S.T.A.R. In Your Interview

Be an Interview Star

How many times have you been on an interview and an employer has asked you a question that begins with something like “Give me an example when you had a difficult time with a customer how did you manage it?”  Or maybe the question sounded something like “Describe a time when you applied effective time management.”    These questions are behavioral based and the premise is that if you can provide concrete specific examples of how you addressed  past challenges that will give employers some insight on your performance in the future.   The key to a successful response is to use S.T.A.R.   This stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result.

  • Situation- Describe the Situation.
  • Task- What problem did you face?
  • Action- How did you address the problem? .
  • Result- What was the result of your action?  .

Responders tend to be  very vague however interviewers want something specific.

Take a look at the responses in bold below to a question about dealing with difficult customers:

SITUATION –  What problem did you face?- As a server in a restaurant I had an issue with a customer who came in an ordered a meal .

TASK-  What problem did you face?- When I brought the meal out it was not prepared according to her specifications. The customer was irrate and she began to state that she would never return to the restaurant.  I sent it back to the kitchen and her meal was incorrectly prepared a second time. The customer was very upset. I did my best to calm her down and apologized for the mistake. I offered to try once more but she declined and agreed to eat the meal.

ACTION-  How did you address the problem? I realized the customer was upset and that the error was our fault so I asked my manager if I could provide her with a gift card to apologizee for our error and to encourage her to return to the restaurant. My manager agreed so I presented her with the gift card.

RESULT –  What was the result of your action?  The customer returned at another time and she actually requested me to be her server. She apologized for her past behavior stating that she was having a bad day at the time of her last visit.  I took special care during her second visit to ensure that  we got her order perfect and it was.  She also used her gift card to pay for her meal.

So next time you are asked for an example or to describe a stituation when something happened remember to use the STAR techique to answer the questions. What are some common behavioral-based interview questions that you’ve encountered?  Please share so that we can discuss the a great response.

Advocate for Yourself

courtesy gmic.global.com

courtesy gmic.global.com

Sometimes as students and job seekers we think employers are doing us a favor when they ask us to come in for an interview or extend to us job offer. We are often so thankful and grateful that we immediately say yes without asking really important questions.  When you are invited for an interview it is perfectly acceptable to  ask for a time that is suitable to your schedule.  If you know that attending the interview may result in undue hardship or a major inconvenience you can ask your recruiter for an alternate date and time.  Depending on your unique circumstances you may  or may not choose  disclose the reason for rescheduling , but it is perfectly acceptable state , “Unfortunately due to a previous commitment I will be unable to attend the interview at that time. Do you have any other dates and times available for us to have a conversation about this opportunity?”.

Another area where students often go with the flow is AFTER the offer has been extended.  This is not the time to take whatever is presented to you. When you receive the offer  request a minimum of 24 hours before you accept.  Use that time to consider the pros and cons of the opportunity  and think about  more than salary.  Review the benefits, location, training and overall  organization culture.   If you are unsure ask questions about any of these areas to ensure that you are making an informed decision. How an organization treats you prior to the acceptance of the offer is a good indication of how they will treat you once you agree to join the company.

This process should be mutually beneficial and  not an area where only you or the employer gets what they want.  Asking questions and negotiating schedules or  additional time to make a decision is indicative of someone who is advocating on their own behalf.  This is perfectly acceptable. It also helps in increasing your sense of confidence by providing a tool on how to navigate the often stressful process of finding an  internship, co-op  or full time job.

The Interview is In- House: Should I Wear a Suit?

Skirt or Pant suits are acceptable for women

Macy.com

Absolutely!  Don’t assume because  the individuals with whom you have been working are familiar with your performance that you should treat the interview as anything but a formal meeting.  The goal of the interview is to position yourself in the best possible light and demonstrate to your colleagues that  you possess the greatest level of professional acumen and decorum. When you interview for a position internally you should treat is it as if you are interviewing for a brand new position.  You want to showcase that of all the internal candidates you are the “best suited” to take on this role (pun intended).

In addition the suit will command a distinct response from your coworkers who may be more accustomed to seeing you in more casual attire. It also demonstrates to them that you take the new role seriously.   You know the saying goes “Dress for the position that you want.”   The worst case scenario is that you will be over dressed and if you believe the suit is excessive you can always remove your jacket.