Some Notes on Job Interviews

Since returning from my European sojourn, I’ve also concluded a series of job interviews, including one conducted over the phone. While job-hunting is intense, everyone goes through it at some point and with each one, I learn that much more about communicating with potential employers. While I’m still building my knowledge base, I thought I’d share just three things I’ve picked up based on my recent experiences.

To look and feel your best, go for tried and tested favorites. Here are some of mine (L-R): gray sheath dress with flattering diagonal stripes, green three-quarters length cotton sweater and comfortable chocolate suede skirt, soft wide-leg trousers and peach nautical blouse.

1. Outfits. When I attend interviews, I always proudly repeat outfits that are tried and tested; I rarely go for brand-new articles of clothing that take time to break in, like new shoes or scratchy new pants. When you’re under pressure to deliver a great interview, the last thing you want to be thinking of is how uncomfortable you are. In the photo above, I share some of my repeat outfits this week, featuring some of my favorite pieces. Cotton 3/4-length shirts, soft wide-leg trousers, my sturdy ivory blazer-all of these have proven to work for me. Depending on the dress code of your potential new workplace, you might choose to add one interesting, eye-catching accessory. Try a good-luck charm with a backstory, like a brooch, or take it up a notch with a medium-sized pendant that pulls your outfit together.

You can choose to use technology to your advantage by keeping helpful pictures or brief (less than 30 seconds!) video clips on hand to show your interviewer. Make sure the content is general knowledge and not classified company information from your previous employer.

2. Use technology. In my previous job, I had some spare video clips and photos capturing some projects that I worked on. It was’t too hard to put them together into a quick and very visual slideshow and load them into my iPhone. If your interviewer is so inclined (gauge this by their non-verbal reactions to your answers), you might decide to show it to them. It’s a great way to give life to your interview. Just make sure the videos/photos run for less than 30 seconds, and that they don’t dominate the meeting. Rather, use them to emphasize your successes and the richness of your experience. Make sure you only show images or share information that’s available to the public; remember that very specific figures and some images may be property of your previous company and should not be shared.

3. Nerves. If you are like me and are susceptible to nerves before a big presentation or interview, it really helps to be aware of signs of anxiety and take conscious steps to fight them. My yoga teachers love to tell me to breathe through hard moments, taking the time to fill your lungs completely before exhaling. When you’re nervous or charged, do you feel your throat closing up or your voice becoming high-pitched? Drink some water and mindfully modulate your tone. When you face someone with strong presence, do you feel your posture drooping? Square your shoulders and make steady eye contact (career websites tell you to look at the forehead if eye contact is difficult for you). Finally, when asked a challenging question, take a couple of seconds to really think it over. I’ve learned that pausing for even just a moment helps me collect my thoughts and express myself better, rather than jumping in with an answer just to keep the perceived momentum going. When all else fails, I find that being earnest and sincere can improve an interview immensely.

What to wear to a colleague’s big event

I’ve had a good friend in Fren ever since my first day on the job almost two years ago in July 2010. Since then, I’ve left my first job, but the relationships with old friends from work hold strong. I do think that some of the great friends to be made are colleagues; there’s just something special about the way they understand day-to-day nuances in the same line of work.

Back when Fren and I worked in opposite cubicles, I was often witness to much of the hard work and skill that went into planning this event, the launch of give-toblerone.com. Though I’m no longer her officemate, I could not miss the chance to come out and support Fren (and her brand, Toblerone) on her big night!

Fren is an assistant brand manager, so for this particular evening she had to be on her feet most of the night, checking on details, going through the program, and even working the stage. Her maroon long-sleeved shift dress with diagonal stripes was the perfect choice for a festive but firmly work-related event. The statement necklace, featuring oversized pendants with a stone pattern, really anchors the look and pops against the muted red. Nude sandals add height, not fanfare, to the overall effect.

As a spectator and guest, I opted for this fun blue dress polka-dotted dress with a sheer yoke, which is a closet staple. As this was a corporate event, I threw on my favorite white blazer, which immediately balanced the dress’ casual feel. A bright blue-and-pink bracelet and matching fuchsia heels add some much-needed color to the look, but my favorite accessory was this Imperial Stormtrooper bottle cap ring, a recent acquisition from a trip to this year’s Art in the Park.

I was especially happy to see my former bosses Andrei and Cyn at the event, which gave us some time to catch up with each other! Taking this photo took me back to some great times.

Note: Fren’s dress is actually the maroon twin of this gray dress I’ve featured before. It’s a great option for any occasion that calls for comfort  and subtlety.

Read more about different ways to wear the blue dress above right here.

Read more about some ideas on what to wear with a white blazer here.