What to wear? For the ladies…

This is a frivolous, and yet not frivolous, posting where I am just jotting down some thoughts on the interview process and how women developers present themselves. After having gone through many developer interviews in the past several months, it struck me that it really does matter what you wear and how you put yourself together. Companies increasingly emphasize the “cultural fit” of a potential employee to their organization. This can present some problems when a woman developer of a certain age presents herself for inclusion. Not only do you have to demonstrate razor-sharp technical skills and be ready to whiteboard a lot of code, you need to ‘look’ the part. This is really difficult when you don’t, actually, look the part. You are going to be interviewed by guys in jeans, young guys out of college, hostile guys, unctuous guys, dismissive guys, over-the-top guys. The only women you are going to encounter, most likely, are in HR. Let’s face it, and let’s get real.

Ok, so, here are a few tips. Please add your tips to this list, ladies, and tell me what you think!

– Ditch the Ann Taylor suit. It makes you look like Marketing.

– Watch out on the makeup front. Don’t go overboard, but make sure you look approachable. Don’t do nail polish! Short, natural nails mean business. Don’t go for perfume.

– Going gray? Color, by all means. I would say to have as natural and youthful a haircolor as you can.

– I eventually settled on an interview uniform: a pumpkin-colored high-necked sweater and pinstripe brown pants with low heels. If jewelry is your thing, go light, just a gold chain or neutral pendant (nothing ethnic or religious, I think).

– The impression you want to give is that of class, subtle style – not sexy or even too edgy unless you’re going for a super hip startup where they value tats and purple hair. For everyone else, understated young-leaning style is the way to go.

Please write back and tell me your impressions! What has worked for you?


Leave a Reply