Question: Dressing for interviews

asks…

I’m applying for jobs for the first time since coming out as gender queer (I worked for the same company for the past five years, but I recently moved).
I have a hard time knowing how to dress and/or present myself for interviews. I want to be myself and get hired at a company that will accept me, but all my straight/cis friends tell me I need to “dress like a girl” or “try to look normal” if I want anyone to hire me.
Any advice?

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «


Posted by on March 28th, 2013 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 10 comments »

10 Responses to “Question: Dressing for interviews”

  1. radical/rebel

    Ha! I have just the opposite advice. I’m a trans masculine person who for the time being is not on hormones, so I typically get read as “cis female” (I guess).

    I think the key to a job interview is CONFIDENCE, and for me that means dressing in the clothes that make me feel the best: nice pants, belt, one of my favorite button-downs, and a cardigan in cold weather. For warmer weather, I’d probably skip the button-down and wear a tie.

    I feel like wearing those clothes to interviews sends the message that I know who I am and that I’m very comfortable with myself. I’ve gotten some double-takes but usually in a positive way: and the last interview I showed up to, all the “cis women” were dressed just like me and I felt right at home!

    I’ve also been offered every job I’ve interviewed for, so I don’t feel like the way I’m presenting myself (as visibly queer/gender non-conforming) has really been a problem for me at all.

    My advice when interviewing has less to do with clothes. a) Find a job that you think will be accepting of queer folks b) Nail the interview with great answers by practicing, knowing why you’re a good fit, and, again, CONFIDENCE!

    good luck out there. <3

    radical survival tips with style
    -radical/rebel

    [Reply]

  2. owlet

    i agree with radical/rebel. you need to be confident! there’s no need to dress “like a girl” if all that is going to do is make you self-conscious and embarrassed.
    i think you can be well dressed while not presenting strictly “feminine” if that does not suit you. if the company/position you’re willing to work to requires a more “formal” attire, i think the clothing suggested by radical/rebel may be a really nice one! it is totally possible to look nice and stylish (which, as a good presentation of yourself, can be something very professional) while respecting yourself, and without feeling awkward :)

    [Reply]

  3. Lane

    I also agree with both previous posters – do it your way. Knowing the clothing/style culture of the industry you are in would be one thing to consider, though as some fields are more or less conservative that way; then, dress for the part in whatever suits your style. And make sure your clothes fit properly even if it requires a tailor.

    I am f-t-m(asculine) person on hormones, I often pass, and I wear men’s clothing exclusively- there is no ability to ‘dress like a girl’ anymore, nor is that my energy and to do that would render me (psychologically) much less useful due to the discomfort of it all and false expectations. Good luck!!

    [Reply]

  4. fence

    I identify as transmasculine and have always, in all positions, from the federal government to private employment, worn what made me feel comfortable, with no one ever looking askance at me. I wear nice khakis, a belt, a either a button down or a nice sweater almost every day.

    No problems for me, ever, and I don’t have to feel like I’m in “drag.”

    Oh, and definitely feel comfortable wearing a suit of some sort for interviews. You can get a nice women’s suit that doesn’t look a like a women’s suit OR you can get a man’s suit tailored so you don’t look like you’re wearing your dad’s suit (too big in the shoulders and arms etc…) and wear “sensible” shoes – guy’s shoes look fine with a woman’s tailored suit as they do with a men’s suit.

    Be yourself!

    [Reply]

  5. Deb

    Don’t do it. If you get hired for being someone other than you, you’ll be trapped in that mold for the entire time you are there. You want to be in a place where you would get hired as you, not as an impostor of you. My one caveat to this is: if you really need the money to survive, you need to do what you need to do to get a job quickly. Good luck!

    [Reply]

  6. Mori

    So, just to provide an alternate experience to the previous commenters, I’d like to say I got my current job (in a conservative country) by “dressing like a girl” (I had to provide a picture and then have a phone interview because I was being hired from abroad). As soon as I got the job I went out and stocked up on office-quality mens’ clothes and buzzed my hair, and have gone to work like that ever since. I’m sure my coworkers gossip but I’m nowhere near competent in their language so…ignorance is bliss. I’ve gotten some questions about why I don’t wear skirts or have long hair (because it’s odd for a “woman” here) but no one’s asked me to change. So it is possible to interview in “drag” and then work in your preferred presentation if you have to. To be fair though, I suspect this is easier to pull off when your employer has just paid for your airfare, and hiring someone new will take 3 months and a lot of money- it’s easier for them to get used to you than find a replacement. (Why would I bother doing this, you might ask? The pay and the work visa. Alas, student loans!)

    [Reply]

  7. Carol

    Ummmm, leave the clown shoes and red nose at home.

    I suppose some consideration should be given to the type of industry for which you’re applying. However, that should only go as far as whether you dress ‘business’ or ‘business casual’ for your interview.

    As the HR Director for our company, I’m interviewing both production staff as well as office staff. My criteria for dress go more along the lines of: Are you clean and presentable? But even that only goes so far.

    I’ve sat down to interview people who came straight to the interview from their current work and maybe less than presentable (sweaty, dusty, etc)…but that’s entirely understandable.

    My only advice is “Be You”. Dress in a way that still looks professional, that says “I care about my appearance being appropriate for your business”, but in clothing that allows you to feel comfortable in your own skin.

    [Reply]

  8. Adrian Riley

    I’m going to be applying for jobs in the fall (anything I can get, but preferrably retail), so it’s nice to know that most people here have had positive experiences presenting their authentic selves for interviews and the like. Hope your experience goes equally smoothly, and come fall I hope mine will as well.

    [Reply]

  9. Jesse

    It is a choice. You can either be out there, without making a point of it, without calling attention to it. You follow all the usual rules: dress neat, be polite, be knowledgeable, be prepared and confident. If they catch on to your gender non-conformity they’ll make a choice, either you won’t work there or it won’t matter… but most times, if it’s a competition between you and a CIS person, you will lose… you’re an unknown. It’s like hiring a short person or a fat person or anyone else who doesn’t exactly fit the plain vanilla description of job skills. You have the option of hiding what is worrying about you: something the short person or the fat person or the old person doesn’t have the option to do.

    If you go in stealth and pretend it isn’t so for a couple of hours… you may get hired and if you do get hired, you may have an opportunity to slowly and gradually educate people gently over time. Or you may find out that half the the people in the company are closed minded fundies and there’s no way you want to work there, doesn’t matter how much money they pay you… it is then YOUR choice.

    So, choose. Be dead honest and they probably won’t choose you. Be slightly misrepresenting yourself and IF you get hired, maybe you will want to work there and maybe not.

    Some people just have to be honest. They can’t lie and if they try to they will act weird and nobody will hired them because they get a bad feeling about you.

    Remember, being trans or whatever has nothing to do with the job, it just is not relevant. You are a human person applying for a human job.

    If I had a job candidate who came in all over trans in an interview, I wouldn’t hire them… just like I wouldn’t hire a maniacal Muslim or a radical professional Deaf person. If I am paying someone to work 8 hours for my company, I don’t want them wasting 6 hours of that time proselytizing or giving people attitude because they’re not Muslim or Deaf.

    [Reply]

  10. Xenomorph

    I’ve been applying for jobs since I finished my postgrad (which was October 2012). Still haven’t got anything, and I’ve always wondered about the whole clothing thing. I tend just to wear really nice dress shirts, pants, and some black shoes. I’m also pretty convinced that my foreign accent tends to put people off – despite the fact that I’ve lived in this country since I was 8 and consider it my home; I’m just bad at picking up accents :(

    [Reply]


Leave a Reply


Can I show your picture? If you have a Gravatar associated with this email address, it will be displayed as your photo. If not, I'll just put a picture of a fork next to your comment. Everybody likes forks.

Be nice. Judgmental comments will be quietly deleted and blacklisted. There's plenty of room for those elsewhere on the web.

You can use some HTML tags for formatting, e.g. <em>...</em> for emphasis (italics) or <strong>...</strong> for strong emphasis (bold) or <a href="http://(url)">...</a> for links.


Back to top