Mon, Apr 11, 2011 4:53 PM EDT
Shine from Yahoo!
You’d never wear a plunging V-neck or micro-mini to a job interview, but we were shocked to discover just how offensive sexiness can be to some hiring managers. A new UK study of 2,000 bosses found that you can seem unprofessional if you wear a fitted top in an interview – and that includes a turtleneck. The same applies on this side of the pond: In a recent Cosmo survey of more than 500 US job recruiters, nearly 70 percent said “dressing provocatively” is a deal-breaker.
What makes them so skittish about clothes that hug or flaunt your curves? “Interviewers who are men won’t be thinking about your qualifications if they’re thinking about your sex appeal, and interviewers who are women will assume you’d be a distraction in the office,” says career expert Donald Asher, author of Cracking the Hidden Job Market. Either way, Asher says, they’re not going to hire you. Of course, a lot of jobs practically require you to look fashionable and hip, which is what makes it so tricky. Yes, this is a ridiculously sexist issue, but if your goal is to score the job, you have to know how to walk the line
Keeping Your Hotness In Check
The problem with a word like “provocative” is that it can mean different things to people in different industries, career expert Martin Yate, author of Knock ‘Em Dead: Secrets and Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World. And since some workforces encourage savvy dressing, it’s important to suss out the place you’re applying for in advance.
If you’re going for a gig in retail or at a restaurant, swing through a few days before your interview to see what the people who work there are wearing. A lot of companies want their employees to reflect the image of place, so it’s okay to wear a cute dress if it’s a trendy atmosphere. Try to limit yourself to wearing just one sexy thing, so pair it with a blazer to make it look more work-appropriate, says career expert Nicole Williams, author of Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success. If you opt for sky-high heels, wear a dress with a hemline that comes to your knee to balance things out, or, if your dress falls above the knee, wear it with kitten heels.
Since it’s hard to get into the office beforehand if you’re interviewing for a job in fashion, PR, or sales, stake out a spot at a coffee shop across the street around the time the office opens or closes and scope out the outfits of the women who are coming and going, recommends Lois Frankel, PhD, author ofNice Girls Just Don’t Get It. Take mental notes on what you see and incorporate them into your interview outfit.
For fashion jobs, you have some leeway with your style, but take a pass on sheer shirts, says Yate – even if you wear a tank top underneath – and necklaces that end right above or at your cleavage (it’s like an arrow pointing at your boobs). Instead, opt for a hip dress that isn’t too fitted, cute heels, and layered necklaces. Top it off with a flowy cardigan if you want some extra coverage.
For PR and sales, you want to convey a powerful, confident image, so it’s key to dress in a way that shows you can look fashionable while maintaining a businesslike aura, says Williams. Try a silk shirt with a cute ruffle, a pencil skirt that lands just above your knee, and a fitted blazer. And sit in front of the mirror at home before your interview to make sure your shirt doesn’t show too much cleavage when you lean forward.
For all your preparation, sometimes you realize there’s an issue with your outfit at the 11th hour. Don’t stress – most are totally fixable.
If you notice your skirt is a little on the short side en route to your interview and you have a few extra minutes, pop into a drug store for a pair of dark-colored tights. They’ll cover up your exposed skin, making your hemline look less teeny. If you’ve already arrived for your sit-down, excuse yourself to the bathroom before you meet with the interviewer and pull your skirt down on your hips an extra inch or two, recommends Williams. If you’re wearing a blazer over top, you can even unzip your skirt a little to pull it down lower. Keep your legs together during the interview instead of crossing them to prevent your skirt from riding back up.
If the front of your V-neck is dipping deeper than you remember, simply turn it around and wear it backwards for a chic style that won’t reveal too much in the front. And if you end up second-guessing yourself on your top or your hemline, just keep your jacket on and unbutton it in the front. It’ll do the same job as a blazer by balancing out the sex appeal with a more business-like silhouette.