You hear back from the company you applied to for an open position and have an interview on the books. Now what?
The truth is, first impressions do matter, especially in the public relations world, and what better way to make a great one than with a killer outfit. While many industries require a simple pantsuit and blouse for an interview – looking at you finance and law – creative industries have quite a different set of rules for what flies as far as interview attire. Don’t get caught up in wanting to depict yourself as so trendy that you end up being uncomfortable. Your outfit should convey the message that you are qualified, competent and confident.
First, a few things apply across the board as general no-no’s in any industry:
- Low-cut tops and short skirts. This rule should go without saying, but if you can’t comfortably sit without your skirt riding up dangerously high, better to leave it out of the office.
- Heavy makeup. While you want to let your personality shine through, less is always more when it comes to makeup. Instead of thick eyeliner and a dark smokey eye, try a bold lipstick with a swipe of mascara.
- Uncomfortable heels and/or too-tight blazers. The best advice we ever received was that comfort and confidence go hand-in-hand. You don’t want to be fidgeting with your clothing or agonizing over the blisters on your feet when you’re supposed to be convincing your potential future employer how much you would kill it in that new role.
Covet weighs in on must-wear pieces to nail your next interview:
“Bold lip, clean lines and a punch of personality.”
- Sara Brooks, Founder and CEO
“I’m a huge proponent for ‘it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed’ for an interview – just ask my boyfriend who I harp on about this endlessly! No matter how casual and comfy your outfit may be underneath, I always throw my trusty investment blazer on top. I feel polished and professional in an instant, and my outfit somehow looks way more expensive. Pro tip: it covers up coffee stains on your blouse! When I’m rushing somewhere I am guaranteed to spill coffee on myself without fail.”
- Kira Tirshfield, Publicist
“I love a simple outfit with a bright pair of shoes – yellow is my go-to because it invokes happiness 🙂 It is just enough to show a pop of personality above and beyond recognizing what makes for appropriate work attire.”
- Casey Blatt, Operations Manager
“Enough makeup to look my best without overdoing it, paired with a lipstick I feel confident in. I also try to avoid wearing too much black; an interview is my chance to make a bright first impression!”
- Holly Sweat, Publicity Assistant
Interviews aren’t just made by dressing the part. You have to walk the walk too! We’ve built out a list of our recommendations to help you prepare for the big day:
Before the interview:
- Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the bio’s of the heads of the companies, as well as for your interviewer. Check out the company’s social media accounts to get a feel for the company culture and most importantly, become comfortable with which brands the agency represents and a general sense of what these brands are.
- Bring at least three copies of your resume and show up early (but not too early)! We can’t tell you how many people show up sans resumes only to leave us scrambling to print a copy before the meeting.
During the interview:
- Eye contact is everything! PR is an industry built on relationship-building, and we want to know that you are confident and able to hold your own in a conversation.
- Ask US questions. Seriously. This isn’t just about whether you think you’re a good fit for our company; you should want to know we are a fit for you as well.
After the interview:
- Send a handwritten thank you note. They are such a special touch that really make you stand out from the candidates who send them in email form.
- Don’t be afraid to ask more questions. After the interview, if you think of more topics that you didn’t address during your meeting, send an email to your interviewer. This gesture shows that you’re truly analyzing the opportunity.