Marissa wants to go to a full time MBA program next year. Remember back to your experience applying to college and you can appreciate what she is going through. Grad school is the same drill. Study for the GMAT. Take the GMAT. Study some more and take it again to bring up that math score. Research schools to see which schools have the programs and teaching style she wants. Write essays conveying how her experience translates into business school material. Submit applications. Now it is time to visit the schools.
Marissa knows the drills about interviewing. She hears it from me often enough. But she insists these school visits are NOT interviews. All she will be doing is visiting some classes, taking a tour and talking to the Admissions Director. NOT AN INTERVIEW, she says repeatedly as she tries on clothes that walk a fine line between dressy business interview clothes and clothes she would wear to class. She wants to fit in with the students after all. And it is NOT AN INTERVIEW.
She finally selects a black blazer with a nice white blouse over brand new dark jeans and her pretty heels. And lipstick. Don’t forget the lipstick. She is charmingly dressy casual. Perfect she thinks.
On her drive home after visiting the school she calls and sheepishly admits that the meeting with the Admissions Director and several people on her team went well. But it was an interview, not just a casual meeting. The Admissions Director even called it an interview when Marissa arrived at the school.
Uh oh… “I wish I wore the black pants instead of the jeans.” You think?
Every interaction with someone in authority when you want something is an interview. Always be prepared to interview on the spot. That means knowing what you want to say, being nice to everyone you meet including the janitor and receptionist and dressing the part. Even if there is only a slight chance that the meet-up will turn into an interview.
When does this advice apply? On Friday morning when you go to that “casual” networking event, your local professional association, a church business meeting or a volunteer event. Dress to impress. Just because it is Friday does not make it “jeans day” for job seekers or career people who want to make an impression.
It doesn’t cost much. Put a little extra effort into your clothes and grooming whenever you go out of the house. You never know who you will meet. You never know when that casual meeting will turn into an interview when you least expect it. But if you look the part you will be more attentive to the opportunities.
Marissa is visiting another school this week. You can bet she will be dressed in “interview clothes” designed to impress. She might even wear make-up!