It’s no secret that plus size women are at a disadvantage in the job market. We’re less likely to be hired or promoted than thinner women, and we tend to get paid quite a bit less. We’re just assumed to be less competent. It’s a ridiculous assumption to make, but you can’t force a hiring manager to examine their preconceptions.
But you can challenge those preconceptions by dressing well and coming across as super smart and competent. We’ve discussed this before – wear an outfit that makes you feel confident, which means clothes that fit you well and dressing just a bit more formally than the industry norm.
There’s a lot of lousy advice out there. (Someone is wrong on the internet? Who could’ve imagined?) Some of it is so jaw dropping awful that we need to discuss it.
Don’t Worry About Looking Thin
I’ve seen some articles suggesting plus size women dress to appear as thin as possible. On the surface, it makes a little sense. If the hiring manager is going to subconsciously favor a thin person, then you should try to look thinner. But it doesn’t hold up to even a wee little amount of scrutiny.
A job interview isn’t the time to worry about the size of your hips. No amount of shapewear or visual trickery is going to win over someone dumb enough to overlook your qualifications because of your body size. You don’t want to work for them anyway. (This is just one of the many ways job hunting is like dating.)
You have a right to take up space in the world – on airplanes, on public transportation, in restaurants, and in the workplace. The whole point of a job interview is to convince someone to let you into their space.
Don’t enter the experience with the mindset that you should take up as little space as possible. That will keep you from feeling confident, which is crucial in a job interview.
Do Worry About Looking Smart
Looking smart is a worthy goal regardless of the interviewer’s prejudices. I’m not suggesting your wear glasses that you don’t need. I’m saying you should use your outfit to show that you’re familiar with the industry and basic workplace standards.
That means checking your hair and makeup before you enter the building. (Your phone’s camera can act as a mirror here.) Smudged eyeliner, lipstick on your teeth, or a loose hairclip shows that you’re not detail-oriented.
This is also where dressing for the industry comes into play. In the corporate world, you can’t really go wrong with Navy. But if you wore navy to interview for a creative job at a graphic design firm, you’d come across as too serious to be creative.
Unless you’re in NYC, wearing all black can come across as funereal. Go with a neutral like Navy or Brown. Or wear black with a color to brighten up the look. Or go with a dark, subdued color like Eggplant or Hunter Green.Prints and colors like Cobalt Blue work for more relaxed or creative industries.
Bare arms, even in summer, are inappropriate for job interviews. And most offices are kept too cold for bare arms anyway.
Cleavage is also a no-no for job interviews, but if you have a big chest this may rule out half your wardrobe. A regular scoop neckline may look low cut on you. A high neckline can make you look matronly. So what’s the answer? A v-neck top may be your best bet. Or wear a round neck top covered by a jacket – the jacket visually breaks up your chest so it looks less like a ski slope.
Blazers & Jackets
Blazers are great for job interviews. Finding a plus size blazer that fits well can be a long, expensive process. Which is why I’ve been so psyched to see blazers popping up in some of our classic collections. Our Swing Cardigans and Kimono Jackets are also fine for an interview in most industries.
Don’t Worry About Little Mishaps
Job interviews are about making a good overall impression. Handle any problems heads on. If you’re running late because of a subway delay or heavy traffic, call to give them a heads up. If your reusable water bottle cracks and leaks all over your resumes, don’t freak out – there will be printouts of your resume floating around the office when you arrive. Or at least there were when that happened to me – and I got the job anyway.
Check out our other posts about working while plus size.