This post is from Lee Anne Myslewski, Administrative Director, Wolf Trap Opera & Classical Programming.
So, you’ve applied to the Wolf Trap Internship Program and have been contacted to come in for an interview. Congratulations! You’ve made a good impression on paper, and you now have a chance to make an equally strong impression in person.
Part of my job is sitting on audition panels, hearing hundreds of auditions every autumn. An audition is an extreme, highly specialized form of a job interview, and there are many parallels that run between the two. So I’m channeling my inner Stacy and Clinton to offer you tips for successful interview attire.
Be professional. If you want us to take you seriously as a grown up, walk in the door looking like one. No jeans, no sneakers, no flip flops. Your clothes need to be clean, pressed and free of holes, intentional or otherwise. A suit is a good idea, but not necessary: polished separates can be just as effective. We’ll form a first impression of you based on how you walk through the door. Make sure the you that we see is the person that you want us to see: confident, polished, healthy, put-together.
Be confident. You should feel like a million bucks in this outfit! If you feel confident, your body language will reflect it, as well. This shouldn’t be the first time you wear this outfit. You want to move in it, to make sure that it is comfortable and flattering.
Be comfortable. We want you 100% concentrated on our conversation and not spending valuable mental real estate wondering if the strap of your camisole is going to fall down your arm or that your left oxford is tied a hair too tight.
Be streamlined. I mean two things by this. First, don’t hide behind your outfit. Bangs should be out of your face, and jewelry should be edited. Ladies, make-up should be subtle and professional. Second, keep your hands free. Bringing a purse or briefcase or portfolio into your interview is appropriate; juggling your keys, cell phone, iPod and Starbucks cup as you walk into my office makes it hard for me to shake your hand. (And do I even need to say turn the ringer off of your phone during the interview?)
Be yourself. Show us who you are! If you’re a shoe lover, show us your good taste (you will find friends here, I guarantee). Your outfit should fit you well, but shouldn’t feel so out of your usual clothing vocabulary as to make you feel awkward.
Gentlemen, no jeans. Please. No matter how expensive they are, they’re still jeans. Khakis, trousers, even a suit – all preferable. If you go with the suit (and, let’s be honest, you’re going to need one sooner or later…why not start now?), wear a tie. If you go with a sport coat, both an open collar or a tie would be ok. If you ditch the jacket for a sweater, then wear the tie. It's risky to ditch both jacket and tie. Shoes: oxfords, loafers, even bucks. But no sneakers and no sandals, no matter how lovely the weather is.
Ladies, starting with my favorite topic, shoes. Make sure that you can walk in them. This isn’t the time for flip flops or casual sandals. Suit versus separates? A blouse and cardigan with a nice pair of slacks can be as polished as a suit. We don’t need to see any kind of straps. If we can, chances are that you’re not covered enough for an interview. Accessories can be a good way to show us a little bit of your personality, and for us to remember you more clearly. Choose a statement piece and flaunt it! (For example, I always wear a large man’s watch. It's a big piece, but it fits into my workday wardrobe without being too showy.)
The bottom line? We want to hire the best person for these internships. We want our interns to be smart, flexible, confident and polished. We want them to be at the top of their field, and at the top of their game. So, dress for the part!
Reminder: The application deadline for Wolf Trap internships is March 1. Apply now.