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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Interview Attire, Managing Stress

Dear Sue: I am in a quandary as to what to wear to an upcoming interview. The position I am interviewing for is a professional position, which I feel would require the most traditional attire. However, this particular position is involves media interviews, which makes me think I might not want to look too conservative, but rather vibrant and energetic. I look younger than my age, so I wonder if the conservative look would help me look older or just like a little girl in old womanís clothing.

If I opt for the most conservative look, I have a navy interview suit that is seven years old and I donít want to be obviously out of fashion, so I am not sure if I should wear it. I'm not a fashion guru and have no idea what to do. Finally, I have hair that is medium length. Is it best to wear it up? Thank you.

- Candice

Sue Says: When creating your image for an interview or a position, making a fashion statement should not be your main objective, unless you are applying for a job in the fashion industry. You should wear something that is fitting for the job and appropriate for the industry. Youíll want to wear something that will not only help you create the best impression, but that you feel represents the real you. If you dress in a conservative suit in order to appear older, but feel like a little girl playing dress up, you are not going to feel or be at your best.

You are wise to consider the way you want and need to appear; although not fair, what you wear does matter and could make or break your changes of receiving an offer. Pay attention to your hair, make up, shoes and other details such as your accessories, briefcase and even the pen you use. Interviews generally are brief, so everything you do should positively support your desired impression.

Some clothing never goes out of style, so your navy suit may be just fine to wear. If you feel youíd like to appear more vibrant and energetic, it will help to add some color, which can be done through accessorizing. You are always better off being on the conservative side for a first interview, but do select something you feel represents the real you.

When it comes to hairstyles, if hair is much longer than shoulder length, consider wearing it up. Long hair tends to look more youthful, and updating your style or wearing it back will help you appear older and up to date.

Finally, if you are not sure you are able to make the best choices on your own, seek the advice of others, and do some browsing to determine what is currently being shown. While you donít have to purchase a new suit, many people do when looking for work, and it may add to your confidence. Once you know you have the look you want, you can focus on the other elements of a successful interview. Good luck.

Dear Sue: I am having trouble managing the way I act when I am stressed. Iíve been told that I am short with people when I am stressed out and I can tell people donít like me when I in that mode. I don't mean to be curt, and I have tried to sugar coat things more, but it doesnít seem to be enough. I am embarrassed about this and donít know where to turn. Can you help me?

- Stressed

Sue Says: Donít be too hard on yourself; everyone gets stressed out at times, and most people at one time or another say or do something they later regret. Be grateful you have been given the feedback you have; you have identified an area to work on, and can do something about it, which you seem ready to do.

The next time you feel yourself getting stressed out, take a time out, whether itís to take a deep breath, get a glass of water or process what has happened. Pay attention to the reactions of others. You said that you can tell people donít like you when you are stressed, so be careful not to blame others or lash out.

Try to determine the cause of your stress and take whatever measures you can to reduce the stresses you encounter. Donít be embarrassed to ask for help and consider taking a class on stress management. Many people share your struggle; trying to handle it alone only adds another element of stress to stress you are already feeling.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
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