Top Ten: Fern Mallis Gives Grads Job Interviewing Tips

At FIT’s commencement exercises for the Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology and the School of Liberal Arts, Fern Mallis, the creator of New York City’s Fashion Week, offered new grads her “Top Ten” tips for job interviewing. Check them out here and share your own!

10. Penmanship. Before they completely eliminate cursive handwriting in schools, try your hand at writing a thank you note. A handwritten one, preferably legible. On a nice card stock, with a clever stamp on the envelope. It goes a lot further than an email.

9. Google. Use it and learn something about the person you are meeting with. I can’t tell you how many times a candidate has sat across my desk and asked me, “So what is your job all about? And how did you get here?” Also, get there early. Soak up the energy — or lack of it. Sit in the reception area and watch everyone coming and going, feel the vibe. Can you imagine yourself fitting in? If you come rushed and hassled you’ll never know.

8. Dress appropriately. OK, that’s wide open to interpretation. I realize at some companies, hoodies are the official outfit. But know that you can never take back a first impression. As yes, as superficial as it sounds, we are judged on what we wear and how we look, especially in a job interview. And make sure you have a good dry cleaner, and we always notice the shoes.

7. Gum. NEVER EVER in public. I don’t want to hear “It’s for my breath.” That’s what Altoids are for. This one is so not negotiable.

6. Grooming. First, manicures. There are 7 million fabulous nail polish colors out there. Pick one, any one. But make sure it covers your entire nail, and isn’t chipped and peeling. It’s one of the first things I notice, and often it’s the only thing I see. And that goes for the guys. You too should have nice manicured clean nails, preferably without color. And second, hair. Do you have good shampoo and a blow dryer? You’d be shocked at how many people I’ve interviewed over the years, and all I could think is, I wish they’d washed their hair, or combed it or brushed it.

5. Resumes. I know this is a chance to be creative, as you all are, and you want jobs in a creative industry. But make sure people over 40 who need to read these can. Pick clean clear typefaces — this isn’t your design thesis. Make it concise and honest. No one expects several pages of past work history. But pick the things you’re most proud of. And add a smart, interesting explanation of what you’d like to do. And check the spelling 100 times.

4. Listen and think before you speak. Don’t be thinking of what you want to say next at the expense of listening and hearing what is being said to you. And make sure your phone is turned off, along with the vibrate function.

3. Smile and make eye contact. Be engaging. I know you may be nervous, but keep your head up and make eye contact. I remember when you could actually flirt with someone in an elevator. Now it’s impossible. Everyone’s head is down, checking their emails.

2. Handshake. Make sure you have a firm and connected one. Your handshake communicates for you. When I meet someone with a limp fishy slidey handshake, I’ve immediately lost interest.

1. Be nice. I don’t care how smart pretty or handsome you are, I want to work with people I like, nice people. You are all competing with lots of talented students and professionals. What can make the difference? It’s the person, the personality you want in your office every day. As Tom Ford said at the 92Y, only hire people you would want to have dinner with.

Dr. Joyce F. Brown, president of FIT, and Fern Mallis, commencement speaker and recipient of the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement
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3 Responses to Top Ten: Fern Mallis Gives Grads Job Interviewing Tips

  1. RV says:

    Thank you for all those useful tips.I just want to know what would you advice to international students applying for jobs here in USA. I do not know what employers expect from non-Americans.


  2. Thanks for sharing wonderful tips, mostly everyone knows how to face the interview but at that moment we become nervous thats the reason we unable to do those thing which we think off.

  3. Ruby Rocha says:

    These are indeed wonderful tips for a job interview. Fresh graduates are surely delighted with this helpful post. Thanks for sharing.

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