Interview Attire: Dress to Impress!

Interview coming up? Scouring the internet searching for help?

Look no further. Or, at least, stop googling “Business Casual Attire [insert gender here].” We rolled up our sleeves, did some research, and checked with the experts. We spoke with a future CPA, a Hope College Education professor, and an Ad Agency Account Planner to learn their tips and tricks for interview attire. Here’s what we learned:

For an accounting interview (as well as healthcare interviews) you’re “selling your credibility,” so you want to project an image of professionalism and dependability. Our Career Advisor and experienced CPA Morgan recommends a suit for both men and women. Women should make sure their skirts fall at or below the knee. Conservative and neutral colors are the safest bet, and avoid anything that could be considered trendy or flashy.

Accounting and Healthcare:

accounting female attire accounting male attire

In education interviews (as well as most corporate settings, law offices, and engineering firms), a suit is still the clear choice for men. Depending on the specific job, colored or conservatively patterned ties can be acceptable, as can dress pants and a sport coat or sweater. For women, a suit is still a good choice, but a conservative dress or a pencil skirt with non-matching blazer are viable alternatives. Just like in accounting and healthcare, sticking to conservative colors and avoiding trendy pieces will help establish credibility and won’t distract potential employers from your skills.

Education, Engineering, Business, or Law:

engineering female attireengineering male attire

In the agency world (as in any creative profession) our Account Planner Ross emphasized being “memorable,” and appearing “professional without looking corporate.” His recommendations for men included dark wash jeans with a blazer and no tie, or chinos with a unique patterned shirt (remember not to cross the line from statement to novelty). For women, he said to keep it “a step above business casual” while “tastefully letting your personality come through.” He recommends staple business wardrobe items — pencil skirts, blouses, blazers, sheath dresses — in unusual colors or patterns. Ross told us that creative offices typically want to see if you’re “a culture fit,” and honestly stated “if you don’t look the part, you won’t get the call back.”

Agencies and Creative Fields:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcreative male attire

White House Black Market, Chico’s, Men’s Warehouse, and Joseph A. Bank are great places for both women’s and men’s interview apparel, so be sure to check out these local stores for some great options!

Overall, remember to research the field you are pursuing. If you’re uncertain about what to wear, ask a contact in Human Resources, or call us at the Career Development Center and we’d be happy to help you (616-395-7950). Make sure your outfits fits well, and get your clothing tailored as needed. Professionalism is key; just be sure to do your research and know about specific expectations in your industry.

Now go forth and get hired!

Special thanks to our experts: Morgan (CPA), Nancy (Education), and Ross (Advertising).

Jobs, Resumes, and Interviews, Oh My!

 

Having trouble finding jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities that pertain to your area of interest? Looking for resume assistance or interview help? Jobstop is an excellent resource for exploring multiple careers, learning about different organizations, and improving your resume and interview skills.

Jobstop is an online tool open to students and alumni that can help connect users with different organizations and career opportunities. After creating an account, you can click on the “Job Search” tab to explore hundreds of opportunities that could help you develop your career exploration process. To tailor your search, click the “Advanced Search” button, located to the right of the green “Search” button, and fill in some of the categories to specify your search. Be sure to clear out the “Post Date” box to optimize your search results. Add any positions that interest you to your Favorites, where you can access them with ease as you continue to select and search for jobs.

You can also upload your resume to Jobstop for online resume reviews, conducted by our CDC staff members and Career Advisors. We will offer helpful suggestions for how to improve your resume, and then eventually upload it to Jobstop so employers can easily view your experiences and qualifications. It’s a great asset that can help you reach the next step of the job search process!

Jobstop also has an awesome feature called Interview Stream, through which you can practice your interviewing skills through a video interview. The Interview Stream link, located on the lower left side of the page, provides typical interview questions and records you as you answer them. When you finish, you can review your answers by watching yourself on the recording. It’s like a mock interview in the comfort of your own room!

Jobstop is a super helpful website with so much to offer students during your time here at Hope. If you have any questions about Jobstop, please feel free to call us at 616-395-7950 or stop by our office, located in the first floor of Anderson- Werkman. Get started with Jobstop today!

New Year, New Career!

If you’re like most college students, your Christmas break was likely filled with family and friends who lovingly asked questions like “So, what are you studying? What can you do with that major? What are you going to do after college?” targeting some undetermined and sometimes frightening topics. They can cause you to stand there, stammering to find an answer, and anxiously looking for a quick way to change the subject.

Luckily, those questions don’t have to be scary, and you can easily provide answers for all of them! Come to the Career Development Center (CDC). No matter where you find yourself in your career exploration process, we are here to help you.

Looking for a fun summer job? The CDC is hosting a Summer Camp Fair on January 20th, from 11:00am-2:00pm in Maas Auditorium. This is a great opportunity to network with numerous camps, located anywhere from right here in Holland, to Warwick, New York.

Hope College first-year student and devoted counselor at Covenant Harbor Bible Camp (which will be represented at the Fair) commented on her employment experience, saying,

“It doesn’t feel like a job to me. It’s an incredible way to spend your summer! It’s super rewarding, and you build a great community among your staff members.”

Come as you are, no resume needed! For more information about the event and a full list of the camps attending the fair, click on the following link: Summer Camp Fair Information

 

The CDC has also created an event discussing important steps during the transition between Hope and “The Real World” called From Hope to Hired. Kevin Deane from the Image Group will offer tips on finding a job, CDC Career Counselor Megan Fisher will discuss how to effectively network with people in your field, and CDC Director Dale Austin will highlight how to prepare for interviews.  The event will be held from 7:00pm-8:30pm in the Martha Miller Rotunda. No pre-registration or outside preparation is required. See you there!

Lastly, don’t forget to stop by and see us at our office, located on the first floor of the Anderson-Werkman building! Set up an appointment with our front desk, or call us at 616-395-7950. We also hold Drop-In Hours from 3:00pm-4:30pm every weekday for ten minute appointments and reviews.

We look forward to working with you this semester!

Steps to a Successful Interview

Dale Austin conducting a mock interview.
Dale Austin conducting a mock interview.

How do you sell yourself to a company and answer difficult questions about yourself and your experiences? Interviews can be overwhelming, whether it’s for a full time job, internship, or on-campus role. However, interviews are also incredible opportunities to reflect on your strengths and unique abilities when applying your experiences to a given role. Most importantly though, an interview is a great chance to be yourself and have a conversation about how you may fit with an organization. Dale Austin, the director of Career Development, splits interviews into three pillars:

  • Practice the Process
    • Put in work ahead of time and understand the process. Know and understand the organization and role. Do your research and know the job description inside and out.
    • Schedule a mock interview with a staff member at the Career Development Center.
    • Use Interview Stream, an online resource that can be found through Jobstop. It’s an automated question and answer system that videotapes you through your webcam and allows you to re-watch your interview. You can also use Interview Stream on your phone if it has a camera. It’s a free system and there are various question sets, dependent on your major or area of interest! Simply login to Jobstop and you’ll find the Interview Stream icon on the left side of the webpage. Click here to login and get started with Interview Stream: Jobstop Login 
  • Have Confidence
    • When an employer realizes you’re confident in yourself and your abilities, seeing that you know you would be a great fit, he or she will make that connection. 
    • Know yourself and be authentic. Reflect on your background, values, and experiences to build a connection between you and the company.
  • Take Examples from your Experience
    • Understand how your experiences have shaped you. Be able to give concrete examples of how they apply to the role or organization.
    • Context, action steps, and results. Offer the context and background surrounding your experience, the steps involved, and the overall outcome.

Once you take the time to go through these three pillars and fully understand them, you will be in great shape to wow whatever organization with which you are interviewing! Lastly, don’t forget to send either a thank you note or email to follow up with an interview. If you’re looking to schedule a mock interview or want to learn more about interview prep, please call our office and schedule an appointment at (616) 395-7950, or stop in for a drop-in appointment between 3:00pm-4:30pm any weekday. We can’t wait to work with you!

Networking Works

Networking works. However, we know it can also be a little intimidating. Hope has thousands of alumni, and you probably know hundreds of professionals!

How do you sort it all out?

First off, take advantage of the resources you have! Know some professionals in your potential field? Shoot them an email saying you’re interested in talking to them about their careers and asking what insight they would like to share with you. Also consider creating a LinkedIn account. The “Connections” page on LinkedIn is a helpful resource for connecting with alumni. Networking can lead to some pretty fantastic opportunities while pursuing your career exploration path.

Not sure about your own resources? Make an appointment with the Career Development Center! We’ll help you link with alumni and other resources to build your professional network. Megan Fisher is the go-to person for any and all networking questions, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment with her to get started in the networking process!

Career Advisor Hadley Roy speaks to her own personal experience with networking here at Hope:

 Last week I made an appointment with a Career Development staff member to talk about internship possibilities. That appointment got my name on an email list with the Office of Alumni Engagement, and that email list got me to a lunch with Hope alumnus who is a successful businessman in international travel. That lunch got me connected with staff in Alumni Engagement, who got me in touch with a Senior VP at a major ad agency back home. All because I made that appointment and talked to someone in Career Development about networking.

When it comes to networking and informational interviews, there’s one thing you have to remember: you can’t gain information unless you ask for it.

So get out there.

Start asking questions.

Start making connections.

You’re on your way to amazing things.

Judge a Book by its Cover.

First impressions matter. Whether you’re applying for a year long internship, a summer job, or a potential future career position, it’s essential that you make a good impression on your potential employer.

There are several factors that contribute to making a good first impression, such as having an impressive resume, strong interviewing skills, and a well-prepared outlook and overall sense of confidence. One factor that you should always take into consideration is your wardrobe. Although this may seem frivolous and insignificant, the manner through which you present yourself with your clothing says a lot about who you are and how much you value this potential position. Career Advisor Hadley Roy knows a thing or two about this topic, and has offered five tips to help you make a great impression with how you dress.

1.) Be professional.

Wear office appropriate attire. No flip flops. No jeans. Nothing torn. Nothing dirty. Make sure your hair looks nice and avoid distracting jewelry or makeup. Also avoid wearing any strong perfume or cologne, as this can be distracting for your potential employers as well.

2.) Dress for the job you want.

This is partially an extension of tip one, but there’s more to it than just looking professional. Read up on the office culture, check out LinkedIn profiles of higher-ups at the company or organization. Use your attire to mirror the values you see the company projecting. If you’re applying for an accounting or engineering position, a dark suit and conservative tie are always a good choice. If you’re applying to be a copywriter or designer, maybe consider something a bit more adventurous. My go to is a black sheath dress with a colored blazer, but always keep it professional.

3.) When in doubt, ask Human Resources.

Seriously. Ask. Don’t show up in a gray suit if you should have been wearing khakis. Don’t show up in jeans if you should have had on slacks and a blazer. Ask.

4.) Make sure your footwear is up to standards.

That means a conservative heel (if you can’t walk four blocks in them, leave them in the closet) or professional flats for women and dress shoes for men. Even the most casual of offices don’t call for sneakers at an interview.

5.) Make sure you feel good in the clothes.

If that means getting something tailored, do it. It’s a little extra expense, but it is worth it. Clothes that don’t fit don’t make a good first impression.

For more information check out these links:

Forbes “How to Dress for Your Next Job Interview”

Forbes “What to Wear for a Job Interview”

Be sure to check out our Pinterest page for even more tips! CDC Pinterest

If you’re ever in doubt about how to dress for an interview or how to make a good impression, stop by the Career Development Center. We want to help you build upon this foundation of making a good first impression by helping you with the entire interview process, so stop by today or call us at 616-395-7950 and we’d be happy to talk to you.