What I would wear on the academic job market now

Hi friends! Every once in a while I get the “what should I wear to an academic interview campus visit” question. I thought we could use a 2022 update, especially as more visits are virtual and more of us are dressing casually. So here are a few items I would suggest and where I would shop for them if you are going on a professor job interview!

The zoom interview

Zoom interviews have, I’m sure, gone from a round 1 hurdle to possibly the only way you’ll interview in 2022. I think the same advice applies whether you’re doing a 30-minute preliminary interview or doing your campus visit virtually: dress head-to-toe like you’re interviewing. Why? Because the doorbell might ring. Your dog might decide it’s a good time to freak out. Someone might decide to take a leaf blower to your front yard. In short, you may have to stand up on camera, so make sure you’re ready!

I would recommend a high neck top to add some color–I love a good mockneck lately. Mine is old but here are a few saturated options: ruffled, green, and budget pick.

On bottom, I pick ponte pants because sitting should be comfy! These are still my favorites, worn once a week. Here’s an on sale option!

Should you wear shoes? I once talked to a public speaking coach who said he always stands up when leaving voicemails because you can hear the increased energy in your voice. I think the same rule applies to interviews–if I’m in slippers, I’m not quite as “on” as if I’m wearing these smart flats.

I don’t think you need a blazer for round one but it could be a nice touch for the virtual campus visit. But things aren’t as formal as they used to be so I wouldn’t worry about putting a sweater or high neck shell under the blazer, versus a traditional button down.

Finally, as always, it’s good to consider lighting and background choices. A blank wall is fine, a nice bookshelf, or a wall with just a couple frames on it are all good. Be aware of camera angles too, and if you’re on a laptop I suggest elevating it to face height with a stack of books!

Campus visits: The day 1 outfit

Ok, so let’s say you’re back in person for final interviews! Many academic interviews are 2 days–one day where you do almost all of the interviewing and an additional day where you are in transit, just getting dinner, etc. For our purposes, let’s say day 1 is your arrive/get dinner day. This day is more casual so I would suggest soft dress pants and a button down and sweater. Why? The key here is you don’t know what temperatures you’ll be facing so you definitely want a shirt you can wear under all your travel layers that is appropriate if you decide to de-layer at dinner.

Finally, I would wear the coziest sweater you can find, plus some flat, weather-friendly boots.

Going somewhere warmer? I would wear sneakers through the airport and change into flats right before airport pickup.

Campus visits: Job talk day

This is exactly what I wore in 2019 and it’s all still in my closet because it works when you have to wear a full suit. I highly recommend suit shopping early–it’s good to have a suit around anyway and finding one the week of an interview takes away prep time!

The main thing I recommend with suit shopping is that you find a shirt that doesn’t annoy you. This is a bodysuit and it has enough coverage up top that I don’t have to worry about anything with it on.

As most of us have relaxed our business wear a bit during the pandemic, I think you could also wear separates to an interview. But please, talk to people in your field before believing me đŸ™‚ I think a plaid blazer and black pants (or vice versa) or a colored blazer and black pants would work just fine in most liberal arts/social science fields. But also consider location–the east coast tends to be fancier than the west coast, for example.

Secondhand suits:

I found my first interviewing suit secondhand on Poshmark by typing in “suit” and filtering by brand (J. Crew always!). I did this because I tend to know my size in J. Crew. If you don’t know your suit size and can go into a store to try things on then you can browse secondhand markets online. If that’s not an option, I recommend a soft tape measurer–take your bust measurement, hips, and inseam and don’t be afraid to ask sellers for those numbers!

Other friends suggested ThredUp for suit shopping as well!

Hair tips:

I don’t think you need hair tips but my hair is a source of insecurity for me if it’s not controlled in some way so here are my thoughts: wear your hair in a way that makes you feel like yourself and lets you do your job. With a mask on, my hair really falls over my face, so I would wear it half up so it’s not distracting to me during a job talk. If you’re looking to up the hair styling game a tad, this website has taught me so much about products to put in my hair when curly. And if you want to use heat styling, this brush is the best christmas present I received this year. It dries hair SO FAST and leaves it really sleek.

Good luck to everyone interviewing. Here’s what I wore on the job market in 2019 and how I prepped.

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