No one wants to spend two hours in a job interview with wet feet. This time of year, snow or rain could dampen your footsteps as you head into an important career conversation (especially if you live in a region where it snows!).
However, stepping into a job interview in those bright pink or polka dot rubber boots that look ‘so cute’ may not send the right message if you’re there seeking a job as a corporate lawyer or a financial analyst, or even if your future boss comes from a traditional background. Big furry boots may convey your practicality and weather-readiness if you’re applying for a job as a parks supervisor, but may seem out of place in a Fortune 100 conference room.
So how do you manage the winter weather footwear so you look professional and stay warm?
Start by considering the culture of where you’re interviewing. Accounting and law firms are likely to favor candidates in more conservative footwear. But, if you’re at a design studio something more colorful and stylish may be perfectly appropriate. Check the employer’s website, Google the company, and research the company’s culture on sites like Glassdoor for clues.
Then, go to your favorite weather website or station so you know what kind of weather to expect on the day of the interview. (The best forecasts are made within 24 hours so re-check one day before.) If a snowstorm is in the forecast, allow extra time for the commute to your meeting. And take a look at your best boots (or those borrowed from your sister or best friend) to see if they are polished and ready. You won’t want to walk in leaving muddy footprints in your path.
Consider these 6 do’s and don’ts when it comes to footwear for job interviews, especially during winter:
1. Save shimmery shoes and sneakers for after hours. Shoes with crystals and studs are inappropriate for professional settings, especially job interviews, Desiree Stimpert writes in an About.com post. She’s their Shoes guide, and while she likes “renegade” footwear, she cautions that trainers and Converse chutes do not make the best first impression when “business is business.”
2. Too high is too risky. Yes, they are beautiful and show off the curve of your leg or your hemline wonderfully. But in an interview you want to show off your work skills and your ability to advance the employer’s goals. Stimpert wrote: “The emphasis should be on you and your skills, not on your shoes.” Other experts suggest heels should max out at 2 or 2 1/2 inches.
3. Black boots may work, but beware. If women are wearing boots with a skirt, they need to stick with a neutral color, usually black or dark brown, and make sure it matches their outfit in tone, said Jayne Mattson, a senior vice president at Keystone Associates. Never wear your galoshes into an interview, no matter how cute and colorful they seem. The same goes for basic winter boots. If it’s pouring rain or sleet outside, it’s ok to show up in those winter boots, and then take them off and change once you arrive, she suggests.
4. Make sure your shoes and boots are clean and polished. It’s easy for them to pick up road salt or grim in the winter months, so take time to clean them and make sure they are well cared for.
5. Seek a safe stash. Some options to hide those winter boots include the coat closet in the waiting room, a dark corner of the entryway or even behind a plant. However, if there’s no good place to stash your winter weather boots you wore in, see if the receptionist will keep them behind her workspace for an hour. When she agrees, get her name and title because she merits a note of appreciation as much as the recruiter who recommended you for the job.
6. Be prepared to walk… and walk. Skip the very tight shoes or those that make a strange squeaky sound. If you’re going to a major company, you may have a long walk from the parking garage to the person you’re seeing, so choose shoes that are comfortable as well as professional. If the weather is dicey, wear something that’s up to the elements and won’t allow you to slip before you arrive at the interview. You want to be walked to a second and third office to meet more people and not be limping along to get there, or squeaking along each step of the way.
If you want to be hired, make sure your shoes are clean, professional and appropriate for the company, even when it’s raining or snowing outdoors.