Interview Ready

Some of you may not know this, but I originally started blogging with the intent to share career advice to those getting ready to graduate or nearing the end of their college careers. I've sort of veered away from my original intent, but the yearn for sharing advice still resonates.

It has been almost three years since I first interviewed for my current job (yikes!! time flies, doesn't it??). Since then, I've sifted through hundreds of resumes and sat in on interviews through my current job and various positions I hold outside of work. So I've now been on both sides of the interview process.

While times are changing, there are a few key factors that go into being interview ready and for which haven't changed. One being the dress code and another the preparation beforehand.

In this post I hope to share a little "interview ready" insight with you. May is the perfect month to do so, because a lot of you will be starting the interview process for your first job or possibly searching for the next step in your career. First up, let's talk about what you should wear to an interview.

Dress (What not to Do): Before I get into the "interview appropriate attire," I wanted to touch on a few... well, don'ts.
  • DON'T wear overpowering perfume. One spritz goes a long way. Sometimes, none is better.
  • DON'T wear a lot of jewelry. One bracelet or watch, per arm. One ring per hand. Stay away from bright or colorful necklaces. Keep earrings understated.
  • DON'T show too much skin. Refrain from sleeveless unless it's middle of summer and there's zero AC in the building. Make sure your skirt or dress is appropriate length. And don't wear a top that's too low cut.
  • DON'T wear flats, unless absolutely necessary. Even a slight heel is all you need. In the same regard, don't wear heels that you'd wear out to the club on a Saturday night. 
  • DON'T bring ten thousand bags with you. Leave the lunchbox and workout bag at home. 

Dress (What to Do): Throughout this post I've featured the perfect interview ready outfit. A classic dress, appropriate length, minimal jewelry and the simple black pump (side note -- please ignore the purple nail polish... not really interview appropriate. Go with a nude or lighter shade). The necklace could be a bit bold for some interview environments, so a classic pearl necklace or simple gold chain would work as well. Use your best judgement based on where you're interviewing. For me personally, I like to make sure that I don't lose my personal style, even for an interview. As someone who has interviewed others, I appreciate the effort of looking business professional, but still seeing someone's personality shine through in their outfit of choice.

So I chose a simple, business appropriate dress from J.Crew Factory. The pattern is subtle enough that it isn't overwhelming. You could even add a black blazer over the dress for a more professional look.

When it comes to jewelry, I again used a bold necklace to tie the outfit together, but it's still understated enough that it doesn't overpower an interview ready outfit.

I kept to the golden rule of one bracelet or watch. And then wore classic black pumps. A good work tote and a put-together hair and makeup combo, makes for the perfect interview ready outfit.

**Note: always use your best judgement when preparing an interview ready outfit. Some business environments expect a classic pants or skirt suit for ladies.

Now that you're dressed and ready to go, let's talk about some things to do before your interview. A little preparation goes a long way.

  • Make copies of your resume and cover letter. Make copies of your list of references as well. Make more copies then you think you'll need. You never know who else might pop in the interview. The worst thing in the world is to arrive empty handed. 
  • Do your background research. Learn anything and everything there is to know about the company and who you're interviewing with. Employers like someone who is knowledgeable and seems interested. 
  • Eat. Nobody wants to hear your rumbling tummy in the middle of the interview. Eat a balanced meal beforehand.
  • Try to schedule your interview in the morning. You'll be fresher and your mind will be stronger. End of day interviews tend to be bad for both the interviewer and interviewee. You're tired and you've worked your brain all day. 
  • Plan out the route you're going to take to get to the interview place. Time out metro or bus schedules, print off a map, or setup the address in an app. My favorite app is HopStop. I used this when I lived in New York and I still can't live without it. HopStop allows you to input your start and finish addresses, plus the mode of transportation, and what time you want to "arrive by." That way you know exactly which train to get on, or what time the bus leaves. This app has helped make sure I'm always on time.
  • Set five alarms. If your interview is first thing in the morning, set several alarms. 
  • Arrive 10 minutes early. If your interview is at 9:00 a.m., walk in the door at 8:50 a.m. Any earlier is overeager and any later is well, late. 
  • Prepare three go-to questions for you to ask at the end of your interview. Employers love to be asked questions too! And an interview is just as much about you finding the right fit, as the employer finding the right candidate. My go-to questions are:
    • "What is your favorite part about working for X Organization?"
    • "What is the most important characteristic you look for in a candidate?"
    • "What is your timeline for hiring?"
  • Refrain from asking about salary during the first interview. 
  • Come up with a good response to "what is your weakness?" Always, always turn a negative into a positive. 

After your interview, be sure to send thank you emails, as well as handwritten thank you notes... immediately. My trick is to prepare the envelope and card before the interview, write it as soon as I leave and slip in the mail that day.

Did I miss anything? Have any questions about preparing for your interview? I'm happy to help! Just shoot me an email or comment below. **Photos by Lisa Chiu

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Mother's Day Gifts from Minted

Mother's Day is quickly approaching y'all! I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by already!! If you haven't looked at your calendar recently, we have two weeks till the special day that we all celebrate the woman that has given so much to us over the years.

Mother's Day is Sunday, May 10th, and if your mother is anything like mine, she can be extremely hard to shop for (sorry Momma Sue!). For any holiday that a gift is necessary, I tend to scour the internet for the perfect present for my mother. Will she like this? Or will she like that? It's never easy to decide.

Over the years, I have found that the sentimental and well thought out gifts tend to go over the best. So this year, I wanted to get something that she'd actually use, and at the same time cherish. Awwww. So I looked no further than one of my favorite online print shops, Minted.

Minted is a design marketplace that connects you with artists all over the world, and helps you to create something special. Everything from personalized stationery, to all kinds of paper products and artwork. I've been a fan of Minted for a LONG time!! I've used them for Christmas cards, event invites and most recently, my blog business cards. Before I let y'all in on what they're doing for Mother's Day, I have to brag about Minted for a second....

They're AMAZING! And I'm not just saying that. I seriously have had the most wonderful and easy experiences working with them. I've never had an issue or problem. The ordering process couldn't be any simpler. They break it down so their site is user friendly, and has all the necessary information. They even send you a free proof for your order that shows what the final product will look like. The turnaround and shipping is quick too. Sounds great, doesn't it?
Anyways, back to Mother's Day. Minted usually offers different selections for various holidays. Their current Mother's Day selection is totally on point! What mother wouldn't love a framed photo with her family and/or children? You can customize your framed photo or even create a collage. Minted offers plenty of sizes, frame finishes and mattes to choose from.

If your mother already has quite the extensive photo collection in your home, then you can choose from other products such as stationery, notebooks or artwork.

I decided to choose a few pieces of art for my mother to hang in our home or take to her office. I cannot wait for her to see the prints I chose! I featured a few of my favorites below:

Minted has even taken their Mother's Day prints one step further, by creating a custom made print for Every Mother Counts. Minted has long been a supporter of the non-profit organization, which is dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. For every EMC print purchased, Minted will donate $5 to the organization. How great is that? Yet another business giving back! Y'all know I love that!!

Be sure to checkout Minted's entire artwork selection here. Shopping for your mother? You can use code PROPER10 to get 10% off your order (code expires May 4th). Whether you're shopping for your mother, or your own personal use, I couldn't recommend Minted enough. Happy shopping!!

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**This post is sponsored by Minted. Product was given as compensation. Even so, I've been a long time supporter of Minted and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Primp & Proper going! Xo


Tips for Attending a Media Preview

One really important aspect of blogging actually happens offline, and in real life. That is networking. You can network with other bloggers at events, network with followers at meet-and-greets, and network with brands at media previews. Most people don't realize this, but a good bit of blogging is done offline and in person. 

When I first started blogging, I would receive email invites to various store openings, requests to come into a restaurant and try out the new menu, and invitations to media previews throughout DC. At first I was really excited to even have someone recognize that I (and my blog) existed. Really cool, right? I also thought how great of an opportunity these events were to snap a great photo, enjoy a few light bites and a glass of pinot. All the while never realizing the importance behind these events.

So let's take a step back to probably one of my more embarrassing moments when I first started blogging. I received an invitation to come into a store and preview their new line for the season. Of course I was the first person to arrive. My promptness definitely can be a negative in some cases. Any who, when I arrived I was immediately introduced to their sales rep. She asked how much I knew about their company and I froze. I really didn't know anything past the fact they serviced women's clothing. That was it. After walking through the store, I left with zero questions asked and no photos taken. A week later, their PR contact emailed me and asked when I was going to do a post on their new line and when I was going to share photos on social media. DOUBLE FAIL. In the end, I should have asked questions beforehand. I should have "known," but I was still so new to blogging and just didn't realize. That was very early on in my blogging career, and I have since then learned "what not to do."

As the spring events season amps up, I thought it was the perfect time to share a few tips I've learned over time. I'm most certainly still new, still learning, and still grasping the event concept, but for newer bloggers, here are some tips I've learned for attending media previews and/or brand events.

Before You Go:
  • There is a purpose // A media preview, blogger happy hour or event, has more than just a "come enjoy light bites and mingle with other bloggers" purpose. This is your opportunity to learn more about a brand, and for a brand to expose their new line or menu to some really powerful voices in the area. 
  • It's OK to say NO // As you progress in your blogging career, you'll start to get invited to more and more things. Some of the time, several events can very well be on the same night. It's key to remember that you shouldn't over commit. Give yourself one or two nights off each week to hangout with friends or just relax. It's okay to say you can't attend an event, but hope they'll keep you in mind for future things. 
  • Take a friend // Especially if you're new to blogging and a fairly shy person, go with someone. If the event says, "you and a guest," bring someone with you. Typically bring a fellow blogger, because they'll be just as interested in the event as you. That only makes for a better time and makes you feel more comfortable. 
  • Do your research // This is very important. Don't walk into a media preview and have zero clue how to pronounce the brand's name. Do a little background and know what the brand is about. Do they service men's fashion or women's? How long have they been in the area? Etc. On the flip side, you don't need to be an encyclopedia of information who knows every single detail about the brand. One of the points of attending the preview is to ask questions and be interested. So make sure to ask the brand reps questions about their company and anything you feel your readers would want to know. 
  • Know what's expected of you // There's nothing worse than attending an event or trying out a local restaurant, and then the PR contact comes back and asks, "where's the post?" That has happened to me. I quickly went back through emails, searching for where they asked for a post. Never did. So make sure if you accept the invite to try out that new restaurant, you ask the contact what they expect. Just social media? Great. They want a post? Ask what they expect of the post. It NEVER hurts to ask. 

    While You're There:
    • This isn't a frat party // Don't be that person ripping shots just because it's an open bar. At the same time, enjoy yourself and do look like you're having fun. Nobody likes a wallflower. 
    • Take photos // Brands love when you take photos and share on social media. Most reps will mention that you should take photos, but in case they don't, it never hurts to ask. 
    • You don't have to buy something // We're all on a budget. Just because a designer brand invites you into their store, that doesn't mean you have to throw down several hundred dollars for their new bag. They don't expect you to either. You can find other ways to share the brand with your followers. Try taking a photo of the new bag and sharing on social media instead. 
    • Make new connections // Even though you may arrive with a friend, that doesn't mean you can't meet new people and network. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself to others.
    • Business cards // Always, always, always have them with you. No matter when or where you go. 
    • Enjoy yourself // While media previews can have some business to them, they're also meant to be fun. Enjoy the evening and enjoy the company. How often do you get to attend a private party at your favorite designer's store OR try out the new local restaurant's menu before it opens? Okay, for some it may be often. BUT you're getting to do something most people don't. So have fun!

    After the Event:
    • Send a thank you // Always email the PR contact and person you met with at the event, thanking them for the invitation and that it was a pleasure to meet them. If you have a mailing address, send a handwritten thank you. Trust me, thank you's go a long, long way.
    • Post social media // If that's requested of you. Even if it's not, I generally try to share a photo on Instagram or tweet that I was there. Going above and beyond goes a long way as well.
    • Write your post // If you were asked to write a post, make sure you get it up in a timely manner. Posting a recap a month after an event doesn't make much sense. Unless there are other variables involved, like featuring outfit photos, etc. 

    These are all points I have learned along the way. We all start somewhere, and I'm still learning with each event. But hopefully some of these tips will help you next time you get an invite to an event or media preview. Have any tips that you live by? Let me know!

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