Follow these tips and tricks to prepare for a STEM job interview and make a professional look:
- Assess the premises
- Form a comfort zone
- Plan your outfit
- Conclusion – STEM job interview checklist
For STEM outfit ideas see STEM Job Inspiration Board.
*STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math fields. See also Women in STEM fields on Wikipedia.
Assess the premises
Forewarned is forearmed. Know where you are going and what to expect. Assess the company facilities: do they have a large campus, do they have a production floor on campus, are the labs in HQ or outside, etc. If you are unable to see them in person beforehand, check the company site and possible references over the internet. Form a hypothetic scenario of the interview. It is very likely that as a friendly gesture you will be offered a tour around the premises. The closer everything locates to the place of your interview, the higher is the chance of you visiting all the facilities, especially if it relates directly to the job you are being offered.
Form a comfort zone
Interview is a stressful event by its nature – you are being tested, compared and assessed. Unless you are pro interviewee, your anxiety level will certainly rise.
How to minimize the harmful impact of stress?
To minimize the harmful impact of stress – form your comfort zone:
- Know your job description.
- Better yet, print them and take them with you.
- Think about what points you would like to clarify about your job.
- Dress comfortably
- Don't put on clothes that you have never tried on, or tried long time ago.
- Wear the outfit in which you feel comfortable.
A scratchy shirt, that you think look very good on you, will cause you discomfort and distract you.
- Concentration is your best friend on the interview.
Make sure you are in your comfort zone.
- Do not experiment and do not fall into clichés.
- If you wear make up on a daily basis – do not go bare face, just because scientists “should not look like this”. Like what? Like you? But they already do! Because you are the one.
- Be yourself, just a more “put together” version. Put together, meaning look clean, neat, trim in appearance, respecting the work dress code (that is no work-out clothing, no club-wear, no beach-wear, no going-out outfits).
Plan your outfit
So, you have assessed your premises and identified your comfort points.
Now implement your findings into your outfit…
Visit to an assembly line or a production floor in manufacturing is anticipated?
You need a good protection for your feet from the small falling objects.
Wear a closed toe shoes.
Yes, even if it is summer! Preferably of leather, as it is easier to clean in case of an incident, and the leather is a sturdier material than suede or cloth. Visiting a production floor or an assembly line you will be offered a foot protective gear that you are to put on top of your shoes.
High heels or sandals will be a big NO.
See the examples of shoes good for a production floor or an assembly line:
Wear a low heel or flat sole shoe when visiting a production floor.
Following the general safety rules the shoes should be comfortable enough to run and closed to protect your foot from minor external damage.
And don't panic. Today you prepare for all types of activities. When you start working you will, of course, allocate special shoes for such visits and keep them at your workplace.
Visiting a chemical or bio laboratory?
When visiting a chemical or bio laboratory, you shall cover your feet not to show any skin to protect them from the possible chemicals spillage.
Wear a closed toe shoes, wear a low heel or flat sole shoe for the same reasons stated above.
Here are some possible examples for a chemical or bio laboratory visit:
Shoes for a STEM job interview in an office
In all other cases, where your intellectual work is executed in a standard corporate office environment you can choose the shoes of your comfort, like presented below.
General shoes rules for STEM interviews
Even if you are sure that no visits to the production floor or labs apply to you, do not rush into trying on the image of a “sexy secretary”.
If high heels are appropriate in your environment you will have years ahead of you to show them off. ☺
For your interview day play it safe and concentrate on safety and comfort.
Visiting an assembly line, a production floor, a chemical or bio laboratory?
Wear a long pants to cover your ankles. If you can tuck them into your shoes – even better. This will offer at least a minimum protection to your skin.
See the examples below for an inspiration.
For the outfit details, check out the STEM inspiration board!
Bottoms for a STEM job interview in an office
In all other cases, opt for trousers. Environment is unknown to you and trousers offer more flexibility for a female.
If you opt for a skirt in a corporate-like environment, select A-line cut instead of tight pencil skirt.
Remember you will have plenty of time to experiment once you get familiar with the environment.
General bottoms rules for STEM interviews
Avoid short skirts that end at a mid-hip and full-circle flirty skirts.
Avoid material with any transparency, heavy embellishment or applique.
For your interview day play it safe and concentrate on safety and comfort.
Select tailored pieces, like shirts, blouses, vests, jackets, etc.
Similar to bottoms, avoid material with any transparency, heavy embellishment or applique.
See above the example STEM job outfits.
The biggest female fear who have to work in a male-dominating environment, which is, probably, your case with STEM job type, is to start looking like men and turn into an androgynous creature.
That is if you love androgynous – you got yourself in a win-win situation: great career and comfort being in your own skin.
Tops best practices for STEM jobs
You may follow the best practices for tops when preparing for a STEM job interview:
- You do not need a short sparkly dress, fluffy blouse or picking underwear to declare that you are a woman.
- Giving the outfit a more defined shape will do wonders: vests, belts, everything that cinches your waist in – shall be in your light artillery. ☺
See the examples below with the dark blue vest with peplum and a belted cardigan.
Click on an outfit example to see its details.
As a rule of thumb, avoid fancy head jewelry.
Visiting a production floor or an assembly line in manufacturing?
A visit to a production floor or an assembly line in manufacturing presupposes the protective helmet – avoid fancy hairdos that will prevent you from wearing it – you've had your prom already. ☺
If weather requires, a beanie could be a good option to wear under the helmet. That is a plain thin beanie without embellishment or pom-poms.
Should I wear jewelry for a STEM job interview?
Avoid wearing heavy jewelry. Avoid wearing a lot of jewelry.
Jewelry is a subject to safety regulations. Do not overdo it.
As an inspiration, small pearl stud earrings will mirror your femininity and will not jeopardize your safety.
Bits and Bobs
What to do with bits and bobs in a STEM job interview?
By all means bring with you and keep them at reach:
- A spare hair tie. You might need to pull your hair back to put on helmet.
- Bobby pins. You might need them if you are to visit a lab.
- Your prescription glasses, if required. Even if you do not wear them regularly. Again – remember your comfort zone.
STEM job interview checklist
All in all, use this checklist to prepare for a STEM job interview:
- Know what to expect – assess the premises, company and people.
- Safety first. Protect you skin and feet from possible damage.
- “Sexy scientist” or “sexy engineer” outfits are for another occasion. ☺ Remember, it is the first impression you are to make and it would be such a pity to get misjudged due to our societal tags and perception images.
- Create your comfort zone: bring small bits and bobs you might need with you.
- Keep calm and enjoy! You've already got the interview. This means that you have managed to make initial good impression with your qualifications. All you need now is to reconfirm it. Stay collected and calm!
Good luck to your interview!!!
P.S. If you are interested in seeing more daily outfits for STEM jobs, please like this post or write your wishes in comments.