All the time, you hear that to be taken seriously at an interview, you must “dress to the nines.” I think of high, stuffy collars, too-tight women’s clothes (dress slips, pantyhose, uncomfortable shoes…), but there’s a reality to this idea: No.
What you want and should do is dress in comfortable clothes appropriate to the position you seek. Don’t pretend it’s “Casual Friday” and only think to clothe yourself in jeans; wear jeans, sure, but wear a smashing top – a nice blouse, pinstripe, button-up, or other “fancy” shirt that fits well, feels nice on your skin, and won’t embarass you.
What I did for my interview was wear blue jeans (though dress pants would have been preferrable), my nice (key word: nice) black sneakers, a teal turtleneck, and a brown blazer. I was aiming for a “journalist-y” appearance – casual yet intellectual. I would say this set of clothes was the equivalent of a male interviewee’s “business casual” or “church clothes” outfit.
Why I say not to overdress is because the more unconfortable you are the less natural you will behave during the interview. Then again, wearing fancy clothes make me nervous.
Be prepared: Portfolio
Obvious. But true. For a technical writer, the portfolio is the bee’s knees of an interview. Your portfolio is a visual representation of who you are as an employee and investment. Have one ready to go at all times.
You never know when you’ll get “the call” to come to somebody’s office and be evaluated for your education, knowledge base, your personality, how you carry yourself. What helps is having a portfolio on hand to “catch you when you fall,” in the case you aren’t as polished in other ways. I can only thank those who’ve previously invested their time and efforts into helping build my professional reputation, my skill set, and professional demeanor.
What happened to my portfolio, then? It was disassembled. Dis…assembled. Not assembled. (My technical writing instructors would all have rolled in their graves, were any of them ethereal and knew about it.) I nearly forgot to bring writing samples, even, since my portfolio wasn’t ready. But I remembered – which leads to another point of advice: Just because your portfolio isn’t “the schizz,” then it should at least reflect what you’ve done.
I brought with me writing samples of work I’d done in the past three years. I had two manila envelopes with seminar papers in them, a pocket folder with a couple projects, and a few loose papers that I couldn’t group with the other things I brought. How I expediated my work, though, was to organize it in such a way that while it wasn’t anything to see (frankly, it looked it crap), I could easily show my interviewer what was on top. That, at least, was helpful.
I managed to earn a second interview. I immediately put my work into slips, locked them into a nice D-ring binder, and am working to reproduce fly pages. Absolutely: Don’t make my mistake! ;p
I had a really excellent interview. Hopefully, you will too. But assume that it does go well. When then?
I don’t know.
But… once I did all the research I possibly could regarding the company who interviewed me, and after I scoured the sample materials I was given at the end of my initial interview, I began to research salary rates. I have no advice for you All, here, but I do have this Web site for your convenience: Payscale.com
Nobody, anywhere, needs luck. Luck is the kiss of death, our Scottish Play. We just need to hope and have faith in our capabilities, skill sets, and intellectual can-do attitudes.