What to wear for an interview

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BENNINGTON — One of Career Month's most colorful programs returned for its third year on Friday, as Southern Vermont College students demonstrated how to be "model employees."

The Model Employees Fashion Show is an annual collaboration between SVC, the Vermont Department of Labor and the Bennington Free Library, which has hosted the event over the last two years. Friday's was well attended, with more than a dozen people participating in the discussion.

The program was emceed by SVC sophomore Vcente Hayward, who participated in the event as one of the models last year. The models were Meghan Arthur and Vanessa Kendall, who showed off a number of different outfits that would be appropriate for job interviews, as well as some faux pas that should be avoided, lest they make an employer think less of the candidate.

"Today, we'll show you professional gear that you'd wear for an interview," said Hayward at the beginning of the fashion show. He was quick to point out that his own attire — an SVC track jacket and sweatpants, because he had been asked to host the presentation at the last moment — was not indicative of proper interview attire. "Don't dress like this," he said.

Each time Arthur and Kendall returned with a new pair of outfits, Hayward and Melany Letourneau from VDOL discussed some of the pros and cons of each with the audience. Kendall committed the first "don't" of the show when her brightly-colored sports bra was visible under a light-colored shirt, taking away from the professionalism of the look.

Hayward runs the Gear Closet at SVC, which houses clothes donated to the college. Some of the clothes worn throughout the fashion show came from there, while others were donated to VDOL or the library.

Not all of the advice was about fashion. At one point, Letourneau pointed out that one of the models was clearly nervous and playing with her hair, which can turn off potential employers. "Take note of what your body is doing," she said. "It can be distracting, even though they looked amazing."

If you're unsure about the level of dress required for an interview, said Letourneau, don't be afraid to do research. This can mean talking to current or former employees, researching the company online, or if those don't help, simply hanging out in the parking lot and seeing what employees wear every day. Interview attire should be a degree more formal than what the employees wear, she said.

After the fashion show was over, audience members had an opportunity to look through the donated clothes and jewelry and pick out a few pieces for themselves.

"Feel comfortable in your clothes," said Hayward. "You don't want to be too comfortable, but you want to feel confident."

Derek Carson can be reached at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com, at @DerekCarsonBB on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 122.

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