Preparing For The Interview: At The Sign Of The Broken Arches

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm ...

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm stiletto heels. Category:Shoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“…Put on yo’ high-heeled sneakers…”

I almost fell off my chair when I heard an executive coach in her presentation tell the audience, “the interview begins in the parking lot”.


Yeah. Some companies actually post lookouts at the window overlooking the parking lot to observe  applicants’ moments before emerging from their cars! What do they see?

  • Applicant doing touch ups on  makeup and hair in the rear view mirror
  • Applicant searching for resumes and portfolios materials
  • Applicant changing clothes in the car
  • Applicant changing shoes in the car

I take a few cleansing breaths and pray briefly too, but my big thing is about changing shoes in the car.

With little else other than the manilla resume folder in my briefcase, it just seems convenient to put my “interview shoes” in there too. I drive to the interview in my comfortable “driving shoes”, pack them in an up-scale store shopping bag on the floor of the passenger side and slip on my pristine “interview shoes” before I get out of the car. Then, I hope I will not have to do a 100 meter hallway trot or the master stairs.

comfortable shoes with professional flair

An interview in a Temple of Commerce style building with a bank of steps at the front entrance and no elevator to the higher floors means I end up doing a one-woman presentation of “A Christmas Carol” or “Cinderella” after the ball. By the time I get to the office at the top of the stairs I’ll be hobbling like Tiny Tim and puffing like Molly-the-steam engine. My makeup has half floated away and sweating has already turned my creole hair  to its natural state on the back of my head. My only hope is a ladies’ room not requiring to ask for the key at the front desk. It is not polite to begin a personal urban renewal project once past the threshold of the business office.

You see, my feet came into the world with low arches, and working retail jobs over the years rewarded me for that by granting me flat feet. Shoe fitters can spot me immediately by my gait screaming so loudly about the pain in my hips and knees that makes me look (and move) much older than I really am. I’m not ready for The Scooter Store. I just have a problem finding good-looking, comfortable interview shoes. The  thin soles and high heels on women’s dress shoes are torture to stand or walk in. Plus, fashion is pushing pointed toes at us again. Shoes, accessories and make up are some of the cheapest ways to update a look, so “iron-maidens” for the feet being the current style again is not good news. Ugly orthopedic shoes are never good to wear to an interview.

The going literature about interview footwear for women is conservative-colored, closed-toe-and-heel pumps. That means, my “Sunday” shoes–the cute ones I put on to be worn for a couple of hours and the first thing kicked off at the door upon returning home from worship services. Arch supports in them feel horrible. My heels are almost non-existent, so heel grips have to go in them too. Usually, I opt for a low heeled sling-back (not the A-one choice according to interview stylists) and hope that I will basically be sitting down for most of the interview.

some crazy shoes:


Preparing For the Interview: The Sweet Smell of Excess?

Shalimar fragrance and Prince Machabelli bottles

My mother’s perfume

I love perfume. So did my mom. It must be genetic.

As a child, my merchant seaman father would come home with gifts of fragrance from around the world and I used to love rummaging through mom’s dressing table testing for treasures of scent. There in that alchemist’s collection of  mysterious bottles  lived the captured souls of romance  with names like “My Sin”, “Tabu” and my favorite, “Shalimar“. To this day whenever I can find it, I enjoy daubing on a little of the classic Avon fragrances. Perfume is the most affordable of luxuries and the essence of womanliness.

Most times, job loss  means shedding things to save money, so there is a sad, gradual loss or downgrade of items like hairdresser appointments, salon shampoo, new clothes, new shoes,  makeup, and finally perfume. If I am rendering the research correctly, the human sense of smell is the most powerfully evocative of  all the senses. One whiff of warm granny apples with cinnamon and suddenly there is a desire to run up the front steps of the “old house” two at a time. Caught downwind from “Old Spice“, tears well up as it conjures warm memories because that was “his” scent.

On an emotional level, I get it. One never knows what dreams or nightmares will be called forth in an interviewer by an applicant’s wearing a certain scent. Know, however, that scent is part of  image strategy. Beware. The choice of scent must be contemporary, tasteful, complementary to business wear/hairstyles and light. Wearing some scents that were popular a generation ago actually say, “frumpy and old-timer-ish”;carries peppermints in the bottom of her hand bag. Scent could give your age away in that case.

a 21st century perfume

Dangerous drink, intoxicating perfume?

Then again, interviews  held in tiny, ventless inner  rooms dictate that neither recruiter nor applicant wear highly scented cosmetic products to avoid triggering allergies or the gag reflex. I have stopped thinking that the often given advice against wearing my incense woods-heavy signature  fragrance in interviews as another shameful loss of freedom in the USA and started thinking of it as a courtesy; like graciously not sharing  information too intimate for that venue. It might just be best to keep this emotionally loaded potion bottled up on the dresser until the ink on the new-hire papers is dry.

Gleanings on wearing scent in an interview or at work

Interview Red Flags

The Interview

The Interview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

red flag

Danger, Will Robinson! This could be a bad employee!

It’s time to hop back into the discussion about the interview. It is a given that the seeker is at the place where candidates are in process of being chosen to compete in the great arena–the interview(s) and the seeker is one of the chosen.  After all, this is what all the hub-bub is about, bub: being one of those too big to pass through the “coarse sieves” of the “first cattle call selections” . Now the finer sieves come out.

Company and independent  recruiters give the thumbs down on the following  “red flag” parade of behaviors–things that make a candidate look like a potential bad hire–in interviews. This list is a compilation of all the red flag behaviors I have learned to avoid. This wisdom is  collected from seminars, recruiters, online articles and many job searches. Of course, lack of contact information on the resume or an email address like, “” reduces the chances of being called into the arena to zero!

Applicant States of Being

Did I really say THAT

  • currently unemployed
  • Mature worker
  • Worker of different gender, race, color or weight than expected
  • arriving for interview late
  • disorganized
  •  inappropriate attire
  • out-of date appearance
  • smoke/alcohol on breath
  • perfume/cologne
  • Lack of preparation
  • nervousness
  • over confidence/over familiarity
  • desperation
  •  negative attitude
  • low energy

From a Quick Look At the Resume

  • Out of date resume
  • Mature candidate
  • Pure functional resume
  • long gaps between jobs termination(s)
  • unstable job history –  “job hopping”
  • social media reputation
  • overqualified (setting your bar too low)
Emotional baggage

hauling emotional baggage into the interview

Don’t Ask, Don’t Reveal?

  • Prison terms
  • mental illness hospitalization
  • “Monk”-isms
  • conditions and health issues
  • Child/Adult care issues
Yes, it might take a few posts to get through all of these, but I feel it well worth the time.

Do You Really Want To Know What My Real Weaknesses Are?

cropped from "The Scream" - Edward Munch


In a word, no…

especially if the weakness is one that will  in any way negatively impact the company or the potential employee’s ability to do the job being interviewed for. Again, there are some things an applicant should never admit in an interview. Re-read that last sentence. I did not say, lie in an interview. I said, never present any weakness in an interview that will speak of the lack of an ability essential to performing the job. Why set up for failure? Interviewers ask applicants about their weaknesses to tease out several things, according to the headhunters and human capital experts I have met in my travels. When they ask this abominable question interviewers really want to know:

  • Are you humble or do you take yourself more seriously than  you ought?
  • How well do you understand yourself? Are you self-aware?
  • Are you honest? Can you admit making mistakes and able to own up to it?
  • Can you really do this job or is your resume a crock?
  • Are your intentions honorable or is this just  a “one night stand’?

The next few posts will be a casual but serious discussion of the interview including dealing with the mystery of what to tell potential employers about things like Swiss cheese resumes, a stretch in the slammer, family care issues, and other “red flags” that give applicants and recruiters alike nightmares.

In one article I read entitled, “How To Answer the Question, What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”, featured below,I found one intriguing statement: “The questions you hear in an interview will reveal a lot about the mindset of the organization…”  It immediately sets up questions in my mind:

  • Exactly what kind of weaknesses pose the biggest threat to that company?
  • How is my kind of weakness going to bless or curse the company?
  • Is there already a full complement of my kind of nut in the tree?
  • is one of those nuts going to end up being my supervisor?
baby boy in exasperated tears

They hired my brother!

This suggests to me that if job seekers empower themselves they can take the body of questions corporations ask in interviews together and read them like tea leaves to find things out about the company what should be known before saying yes to a potentially toxic or abusive work relationship.