The WORC Interview Guide
By: Erica Lee
Got the interview jitters?
Graduating, student loans, and day-to-day life are stressful enough without having to worry about interviews—especially when preparing for interviews might interfere with the unique way you experience your gender, body, culture, and identity.
It’s no secret that interview guides are modeled on western ideals of “professionalism,” showing an expensive suit instead of a cheongsam, sari, kurta, or guayabera. They often leave no room for minority ethnic or gender identities. By saying you’ll only be taken seriously in a suit instead of jeans, these professional scripts suggest that your worth comes from your packaging instead of yourself and your comfort level.
We believe that preparing for an interview should never interfere with your identity, and in an ideal world, we could all define what is professional for ourselves. Unfortunately, our world is nowhere near ideal, so here’s a guide that tries to bridge that gap between the world as it is and how you can dress with still respecting your identity.
Embrace what feels right to you and reject what doesn’t. Only you know how you want to interact with the world, and we hope only the best for you.
Rock that interview!
- Style that hair! I like to pull mine up so I don’t play with it, but you should not feel any pressure to change the color or texture of your hair.
- Wear neat, simple makeup if you feel inclined to.
- Nails should be clean and neat, as should any polish.
- Avoid perfume or cologne.
- Pick a blazer and bottoms that make you feel like a professional rockstar, whether they’re black, navy, gray, or brown.
- Pop on a light-colored shirt and choose a tie accordingly, if you’d like to wear one.
- Pinstripes? Pin all you want.
- Skirt or pants? On you, boo.
- Loafers, oxfords, flats, or heels? Whatever your feet need.
- If your bottoms have belt loops, fill them with a belt the same color as your shoes.
- Depending on your footwear, you might like to choose either dark socks or nude-for-you pantyhose.
- Make sure your suit covers all tattoos or piercings (besides ears).
- Any accessories should be muted colors and non-religious.
- Bring a professional bag: briefcase, tote, etc. in leather, nylon, or other professional material in a neutral color.
- Don’t talk about salary during the first interview—there will be time for that later!
- Don’t forget which questions are illegal for interviewers to ask you.
- Interviewers cannot ask you questions that reveal your nationality, religion, age, marital and family status, gender, health, arrest record, drinking habits, debt, past drug usage, or ability. If the interviewer asks these questions, politely decline to answer.
- Not sure if the question your interviewer asked you is legal? Here are some examples:
- “Do you plan to have a family?” or “How will you balance work and family?” or “Do you expect to get pregnant soon?” are all off-limits. This prevents employers from discriminating against you if you plan to have a child and take off work, for example. Employers might also ask these questions to determine your sexuality.
- “Are you a U.S. citizen?” or “What is your native language?” are ways for your interviewer to ask about your nationality while relying heavily on their own stereotypes. Frankly, I’m always happy to pull out the, “naw, I’m from Jersey!” when faced with these illegal questions.
- “Do you have any disabilities?” and “Do you have a chronic illness?” and “Do you drink?” are just plain rude. I don’t know you, interviewer! And anyway, it’s illegal for you to ask me. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that
- “Employers may not ask applicants whether they will need reasonable accommodation to perform the functions of the job, unless the employer reasonably believes the applicant will need reasonable accommodation because of an obvious disability, or because of a hidden disability that the applicant has voluntarily disclosed to the employer.”
- Don’t forget a thank-you note. It’s just good practice! Make sure to send one within a day or two of your interview. Often, emails are better than handwritten notes. The interviewer will see them sooner, and they will also have your email address in their inbox for the future!
- Carry a portfolio that shows your Bulldog pride as well as holding extra copies of your snazzy and irresistible resume.
- Keep your cell phone in your bag on silent. But tweet @WORCUGA when you get that dream job!
- Remember to pack a couple pens—it shows you’re prepared when they ask for your John Hancock on a contract!
- Don’t forget your friendly smile!
- You have killer instincts. If you feel like you shouldn’t wear it, then you shouldn’t. If you know you’ll fidget in a skirt or worry about your laces, remove that piece from the equation.
- The most important thing is that you feel comfortable in your own skin so your own personality will shine through.
- YOU GO ROCK THAT INTERVIEW!
For more information, see UGA’s Career Services interview guide