Ask Aunt Fattie: How do I get a job when I look pregnant?

Dear Aunt Fattie:

I’m a college senior, about to enter the big wide job market, and I’m looking for some advice on how to handle my Ultra Super Special Body Shape.

You see, I look like I’m about 5-6 months pregnant, despite a complete and total lack of fetuses in my stomach.

I’ve got a fairly small frame, really, and all my weight goes to the front of my gut. No rolls, no back fat, skinny arms and legs, almost no boobs–and a protrusion right where my distended uterus would be if I were actually preggers. I’ve been working on accepting my body as is, practicing HAES, and just generally trying to dress well and treat myself well, but the upcoming job search is filling me with dread. While it may be technically illegal to discriminate against a pregnant woman, something tells me a lot of firms won’t consider that–they’ll just see that I’d presumably be on maternity leave in just a few months. The stigma against asking a woman if she is pregnant won’t give me a chance to refute said claims. How do I handle this in a professional manner?

-The Girl With The Imaginary Fetus

Dear Imaginary Fetus,

Aunt Fattie’s first suggestion would be a T-shirt reading “No, I’m Not Pregnant.”

Her first serious suggestion would be “no empire waists.”

In truth, this is a poser. It is reprehensible but undeniable that firms and companies are reluctant to hire pregnant women because they don’t want to immediately pay for an extended leave of absence. Due to both social and legal restrictions, you can’t solve this with words — they can’t ask, and it’s awkward to answer unbidden. And so, you must solve it with clothes. Aunt Fattie believes strongly in letting your fat hang out unmolested, but she believes just as strongly that there is a time and a place for compressing, restrictive garments. Previously, she thought these places were primarily “fetish” and “fetish-unaffiliated dress-up.” To this list, she will now add “looking un-pregnant for a job interview.”

We frequently choose to present ourselves differently at an interview than we would in our real life. Women who have never owned a suit go out and buy a suit, just in case they’re supposed to be wearing a suit. We tone down our makeup (or put it on for the first time), we take out our piercings, we try not to use the word “fuck.” Strapping some heavy-duty elastic (or heavier-duty boning) onto the ersatz bump is denying the fat, true, but interviews are all about that delicate tightrope walk: rejecting or downplaying the majority of your identity, while simultaneously shamelessly advertising your job-related attributes. It’s distasteful, it’s morally ambiguous, and it’s how these things work.

If you are in a more relaxed profession, you may be able to eschew the girdle and depend upon the kindness of strangers. But if it’s the kind of job where you know for a fact that you should be wearing a suit to the interview, it may simply be time to screw your courage to the Spanxing post. Once you’re hired, it doesn’t matter who thinks you’re pregnant, but it would be terrible to be denied a job because of your imaginary fetus. Almost as terrible as the fact that companies routinely deny jobs to actually-pregnant women despite it being blatantly illegal.

(Oh, and just so you don’t think that Aunt Fattie is suggesting that you go out in only shapewear: The idea of “flattering clothing” is often a racket, where the conventional wisdom is more focused on looking thin than looking good. But since there’s a viable reason here to hide your belly, Aunt Fattie will regurgitate the standard big-belly advice: wear your skirt or pants at belly button level, employ subtle vertical stripes, choose a short fitted jacket, and invest in tailoring. And truly, no empire waists.)

An aside, for job-seekers other than I.F.: Companies will also deny jobs to fatties, often based on similar reasoning — i.e., they cost more to insure and will take more sick days. (The first part is even true, as anyone who’s tried to get private insurance can attest.) Is it appropriate for everyone, fake pregnant belly or no, to try to appear slimmer for a job interview in order to avoid hiring bigotry? Aunt Fattie thinks it’s well within the understood rules for the shadowy game of Three-Card Monte that is the interview process. The attitude of the undercover fatty is the same as the attitude of the secretly pierced and tattooed: “You make me go through this charade to get my foot in the door, and buddy, I can play the game. But just wait until you hire me; I’ll blow this place wide open.” You do not, of course, then blow the place wide open once you get the job, at least not literally. But that psychological approach can get you through the distasteful rigmarole that is part and parcel of interviewing — even, I hasten to mention, at perfectly nice companies that are delightful to work for.

You shouldn’t have to hide your fat to get hired, nor should you have to remove your piercings, dye your hair, buy new clothes, or squeeze into uncomfortable shoes. But unless you’re lucky enough to be looking for work in the District of Columbia, which forbids discrimination on the basis of personal appearance, that’s what job-hunting in a patriarchy is all about. (Even in D.C., it may be illegal — like discriminating against a pregnant woman — but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.) When you live in a culture that actively encourages and rewards discrimination, you have a few choices. You can approach situations that are stacked against you straightforwardly, refusing to compromise; that is admirable but, for most people, untenable. You can change course, and deliberately alter or narrow your goals; this works beautifully in some cases (“I refuse to date anyone who would want me to lose weight”), but in others (“I refuse to work for any company that wouldn’t hire me with visible facial piercings”) it depends greatly on your circumstances, your options, and your personal preferences. Or, you can play the game for a limited time, to a limited extent. All of these are live options; the choice is up to you. But Aunt Fattie thinks there’s no shame in wearing patriarchal underwear to face a patriarchal job interview, even as you support and work for social change in other aspects of your life.

Would similarly-shaped Shapelings like to weigh in with shapewear recommendations for I.F.? She’ll need something she can wear at least for a couple of hours and that offers particular support in the belly. If you can offer suggestions, we all promise not to judge you for your girdle expertise. Alternately, if you are roughly this shape and know from experience that all the girdles in the world won’t work, do please let us know. Aunt Fattie herself does not have this shape and may need some education in its ways. If indeed the feeble embrace of shapewear would barely mitigate the belly, the problem becomes even trickier, and Aunt Fattie can advise little beyond rocking the interview so hard that they have no choice but to hire you, fetus or no.

Finally, please remember: the “problem” in this case is not your belly, but widespread discriminatory hiring practices. Unfortunately, changing the latter is a huge project, and you shouldn’t have to go unemployed while it’s being undertaken. But even though Aunt Fattie’s advice involves hiding your belly, your belly is NOT the problem here.

If you’ve got your own questions on fat, fatphobia, fatshion, and fatiquette, send them to auntfattie@gmail.com.

103 thoughts on “Ask Aunt Fattie: How do I get a job when I look pregnant?

  1. I have the belly problem and I’ve been pregnant, so I know how a maternity look differs from a regular look.

    My suggestion is a dark suit, preferably black, with a medium or bright colored solid blouse. Wear a belt with the pants. If the pants don’t have beltloops, either have a tailor add some (even via thread loops) or go with a soft wrapping leather belt with an obvious closure. No preggo is going to wear a belt midway through a pregnancy. It goes without saying that the blouse will be tucked in.

    I suggest Spanx for a support garment. I got one at Lane Bryant which has a high waist. You can survive for about 6 hours in one, so it will get you through an interview. It can be counted on to flatten things a little, but you could end up looking a little hippier than when you started. C’est la guerre.

    I would also make sure to have awesome hair and to wear heels with this look. People expect preggos to wear flat/low shoes, and in fact it is unpleasant to wear them when pregnant. Heels can only help in this situation.

    Stand up straight, stride, and don’t rest your hands on your stomach for any reason.

    As far as attitude goes, I would project as strong of one as possible, really put on the game face about being up for challenges yada yada, and try to come off as incredibly focused. Preggos can come off as distracted by Teh Bayyybeee and you don’t want any vibe like that. I would probably also go for jewelry that makes a statement, ie is a little bold. I think the expectation is that a preggo would tone it down, but JMHO.

    Good luck with the interview; knock ‘em dead!

    P.S. If anybody has the stupidity to ask if you are pregnant, be ready. I have NO problem saying, “Not pregnant, just fat.”. You will have an upper hand in that situation if you handle it better than they do.

  2. No preggo is going to wear a belt midway through a pregnancy.

    Excellent insight! I was trying to come up with some things that a non-pregnant woman would wear or have access to that a pregnant woman never would, but there’s so much stylish maternity clothing out there that I couldn’t think of any.

  3. Another thing to do would be to mention all the things you can do for the company over the coming months, with a timeline. That way they can see there are no holes for baby birthing in the future. If you are very active, you can also mention your rock-climbing or whatever as most pregnant women are reluctant to risk the more exteme activities, where a fall could hurt the baby. You could also mention that your doctor recommends a single glass of red wine with dinner for your health. Provided that you come off as sensible and rational, alcohol is something no doctor recommends for a pregnant woman’s health.

    Do not mention any home improvement projects, that could be interpreted as nesting. Do not go ooh and ahh over baby pictures on the interviewer’s desk unless you also mention how much you like being an aunt; but are waiting a few years for one of your own.

  4. My son’s fiancee gains weight in such a way that she looks seven or even eight months pregnant – not a small bulge easily disguised by a girdle, more a “late for Lamaze class” kind of thing. If I didn’t know for a fact that I am not about to be blessed with a grandchild (she has been this intriguing shape for far longer than a normal pregnancy lasts) I would be certain that her condition was delicate to an extreme degree. Luckily she works in the daycare field where what’s one more client, after all. If she were job hunting in the corporate sector, I don’t think a girdle would be enough. Any other creative ideas from the field when fat-hiding is just not an option?

  5. I would suggest one of those tummy shapers that looks like a one piece bathing suit. Depending on how you are shaped, if you wear one of those half thingies, it’s going to probably roll down, or up, or something. Then you’ll be uncomfortable and adjusting the damn thing the whole time. The one piece one should work well for you since you don’t have much fat anywhere besides your stomach.

  6. I have a high-waisted Spanx garment that smooths my stomach out nicely. It comes up quite high, which is key for not creating rolls (although… if you are trying not to look pregnant, well, I’ve never seen a pregnant lady with a roll so maybe you should create one, lol). My shaping garment comes down to about my knees, but they also make panty-style ones. I find the style I have creates more definition between the waist and hip.

    I usually wear a black suit with a black shell and a nice necklace to draw attention away from my mid-section.

  7. I dunno. I find those Spanx things hot and uncomfortable and they really don’t do much to squash my prodigious apple shape.

    But the advice to avoid empire waists is absolutely right. Nothing makes me look more pregnant than the supposedly stomach-hiding empire waist.

    Hip length jackets or blouses (if we’re not so corporate) with some kind of vertical or princess seams or tucks can kind of smooth over the nonbaby bump or at least make it appear as if there might be a waist under there.

    And if you ever find any pants that fit your waist that don’t look like total clown pants on your butt and thighs, PLEASE let me know where you got them.

  8. 2 words: Padded Bra. If you can make your top a little bigger it helps expand you to a full-torso apple shape.

  9. Monster Alice, I would think that enhancing the boobage would give the opposite effect. Pregnant women are not known for being small-chested.

  10. Hmm…perhaps you can ask questions about what the company is going to be doing over the short-term, say the next six months to a year, and express interest and excitment over the possibility of being involved in those projects.

  11. I will add a few words on the overall concept of ‘toning down’ for an interview it.

    I’m for it. I get it now. It’s part of maturing, I think, to get it. When I used to wear a pentagram daily, it pained me morally to take it off for any reason along those lines. But you know what? If I am the interviewer, and you come in wearing a big honking cross, I might be wondering if you’re an annoying Jesus freak. And you know what? That’s not what you want me thinking about during your interview.

    It’s a matter of removing as much personality as possible so that all they see is your qualifications.

    Now, the pregnant thing? Completely unfair.

    Of course, the problem with so much of this is that any of the so-called ‘distractions’ are probably steeped in some kind of unpleasant bias. Certainly my example is.

    So like, you’re distracted that I’m fat? Or a witch?

    So here I am, undoing my opening statement, and leaving myself confused.

  12. i was going to say ask to have the interview over sushi but i see i’ve already been beaten to that line.

    not stomach related, but i thought i’d suggest getting a blowout if you have curly or wavy hair. that’s another appearance thing that the corporate world frowns upon for some reason.

    good luck and god speed : )

  13. Roberta, yeah, the way I see it is this: do you really want to entrust your future employment to the chance that the HR person is open-minded and unbiased? Are you willing to stake your job on the possibility? I’d like for everyone to be his or her best self, but in the meantime I have to put food on my family.

  14. I would say to wear dark glasses and ask the interviewer to turn down the lights because you are SO hungover.

    But maybe that’s… bad?

    Sorry I don’t have any additional advice, I also have around tummy and I’ve actually found that Spanx make me look MORE pregnant because it makes the roundness harder and more… pregnanty? I do find that princess seams minimize the “when are you due” comments.

  15. Phone interviews? That’s the best I’ve got. The job I got here I did about 4 different phone interviews before they brought me out. I’m pretty sure brining me out was just to make sure I really exsisted and wasn’t an imaginary ghost on the phone. If you get the chance to make a good impression over the phone then it helps in person.

    (This only really works if you are interviewing for jobs 400 miles away…. )

  16. Do not wear a V-neck. Many “fashion experts” say it’s flattering on fat women, but it can draw attention to your boobs and stomach. Choose a round or square neckline.

  17. Monster Alice, I would think that enhancing the boobage would give the opposite effect. Pregnant women are not known for being small-chested.

    Yeah, but if the problem is that your belly sticks out farther than your boobs, and a padded bra would change that, it might be worth it. I mean, fat women aren’t known for having small boobs, either (even though many do).

    I do find that princess seams minimize the “when are you due” comments.

    Excellent suggestion.

  18. I know this crosses WAY into TMI territory for most people, but I just want to make sure that GWIF has been to the doctor/gyno fairly recently. Although I had relatively thin arms, legs, and face in high school, I hated my stomach because it made me look pregnant. I thought, gee, I wish I didn’t carry all my fat in my stomach. But then I had my first gyno appointment at age 18, and it turns out it wasn’t fat – I was carrying around a cyst approximately the weight of a baby. I was totally healthy otherwise, and was completely surprised by this revelation.

    So yeah. Everyone go see the doctor. And once you know you’re perfectly healthy, go rock that job interview!

  19. Make sure you don’t slouch. Poor posture makes the lower abdomen look bigger. Stand up (or sit up) straight and arch slightly.

    I say this as someone who rarely isn’t slouching. But I don’t so much face discrimination for a slight pooch, so I can afford it.

  20. fatguyshirts.com

    There’s one that says “No, I’m not pregnant” and one that I like better: “Think twice before you ask me if I’m pregnant”

  21. I think Spanx have to be tried to see how it works. If you have more of a jelly belly kind of fat going on, like I do, it really does help to flatten it.

    No matter what, definitely do a dry run in the chosen outfit (with accessories) some day before the interview just to iron out the kinks. It will really help with confidence, especially if like many college students, you are not used to dressing up.

  22. Every interview I’ve been to, and I mean EVERY interview, has at some point mentioned the benefits, such as private medical, staff discounts, and company run daycare.

    At that sort of stage, I usually find a mildly less formal tone is acceptable, so when daycare is mentioned in the packages you could perhaps hint that, while a great benefit for staff, this isn’t something you will need in the near future?

  23. So, um, yeah. I don’t carry weight that way EXCEPT when I’m pregnant. I found that wearing a sweater bulky enough that you couldn’t really tell where my stomach poked out is a good way to not look pregnant, so too, might a jacket that definitely starts at boobs do. Also, if you wear long sleeves and a a skirt at least down to your ankles, or non formfitting pants, chances are you might come off as a trifle heavy, but not really OMG TEH FATZ or pregnant. If they can’t see that your arms and legs are skinny while the rest isn’t, they won’t assume that you’re pregnant, they’ll just assume that you, like most women, are trying to lose a little weight. Sad, but true.

  24. There’s one that says “No, I’m not pregnant” and one that I like better: “Think twice before you ask me if I’m pregnant”

    And here I thought it would have to be a custom order!

    Dang, I have some mixed feelings about those shirts though. (You can probably intuit my opinions on shirts like “skinny women suck.”) But I do really like that you can get the “no, I’m not pregnant” design on a maternity shirt.

  25. On padded bras…

    This trick might work because I’ve been getting a lot of people asking me if I’m pregnant since I had a breast reduction a few months ago.

  26. Another option: There is one area of employment where it is possible to get a decent job without ever doing a face to face interview: the federal government. Unless a person is applying for a fairly high level position, interviews are generally done by telephone. For some positions, there isn’t an interview at all — applications are scored and the highest ranked person is contacted with a job offer. If that person says no, then HR works its way down the list. The feds hire a lot of people in many different areas of expertise, the benefits are decent and the wages (depending on what your occupational field is) are competitive. Not every federal agency is like Homeland Security and FEMA — some of them (the National Park Service, for example) are still worth being a part of. The website for federal employment is http://www.usajobs.opm.gov..

    The phone interview thing, btw, is wonderful. It’s amazing how much confidence a person oozes when she’s able to interview in a setting of her own choice while dressed in real clothes instead of the dreaded interview suit.

    For the face to face situations, I’ll echo the previous comments — use all the various tricks to draw attention away from your middle — but try to make sure you only have one type of discomfort to cope with, i.e., if you’re constricting your middle make sure you’ve got comfortable shoes, a great bra, and a hairstyle you’re used to. Buy good quality clothes for interviewing, and seek out a professional tailor to do alterations if you can’t find something off the rack that fits exactly right. You want the outfit to bolster your confidence, not sap it.

  27. Hm, I keep wondering if there is some way to actually just SAY that ur not pregnant. Either light-heartedly, or perhaps just honestly say at some point in the interview.

    But, i wouldn’t know… I’ve never had to interview anywhere corporate.

    And everyone’s comments about toning down or adjusting their appearance for an interview – while totally valid – makes me thankful that in the animation field everyone seems to be welcome. Pierced, tatooed, dressed-up, casual, whatever. They all seem to coexist in the office and everyone seems fine with it. If anything, it gives u the freedom to wear whatever the fuck u want to work because u know u will fit in no matter what.

    But yeah, all i can do is second everyones good advice and humbly suggest actually just SAYing it.

  28. cggirl, there’s basically no way to say it that’s appropriate for an interview, because feeling that you have to mention it is tantamount to saying “I suspect you were planning to illegally discriminate against me but…”

  29. I also have a bigger tummy than any part of me, and it’s annoyingly hard to find things I’m willing to wear! I agree on the princess seaming, and I also think a wrap top or wrap dress might work. As long as there is some kind of shaping through the waist. Also, make sure whatever garment you wear on top – jacket, shirt – doesn’t fall lower than your hipbones – I find this is key for me, in terms of de-emphasizing my preggo look, as pregnant women do tend to go for the longer tops. I’ve done a few job interviews myself in the last few months, and I find a monochromatic look consisting of NON-pleated pants, a simple top, and a tailored jacket works best – I’ve had no problems….I have 2 damned jobs at the moment, one of them very corporate, so this look must work!

    Also, the one thing I almost always try to do when going for the “camouflage” look is to wear a very long scarf, preferably a big one, like a long rectangular shawl worn as a scarf – I just let it hang from my neck, and it covers up my belly while making me look “taller” (big euphemism)….the shawl styles are best for this, as they are wide enough to sort of “mask” your belly in the off-centre/side view. My favourites among my scarf collection hang to mid-thigh. I find tons of these in the sari section of my local thrift store. Heck, I’m wearing an Indian shawl right now! (Just watch one thing – careful when you sit in steno chairs, as you could roll right over the end of your scarf and strangle yourself, Isadora Duncan style!)

  30. Are you being interviewed by a woman working in the corporate sector?
    If so, you could consider getting obvious highlights.

    Other ideas:
    Try mentioning your cat, a newly opened sushi place, a local winery/brewery/wine-tasting event, and hobbies that pregnancy might hinder (gardening/farming, travel, rock climbing, plans to train for a triathlon, etc.).
    Visibly popping an aspirin and/or bringing a coffee may also help.
    There’s a good chance that you can work in something truthful and recognizably frowned upon for pregnant women.

  31. bringing a coffee

    Oh my god, this is brilliant. Subtle, not at all contrived, yet absolutely gets the point across. Unless it’s bad form to bring your own coffee to an interview — anyone know? They may also offer you coffee that you can accept.

  32. You may want to have your doctor check you out because the type of body frame and stomach protrusion you are describing could be a sign of a tumor or other medical condition.

  33. My worries with bringing in a coffee would be that, rather than seen as “not pregnant” you’ll just be “Bad pregnant lady”

    but maybe I’m over thinking it.

  34. Along with the shorter blazer/coat thing, I’d suggest the old nipped-in-at-the-waist fit for a 1-2 punch. Suggesting a waist is always good, and suits tend to run boxy, so if you can find separates that work well together and emphasize a waist head-on, that always helps.

  35. Coffee might be too subtle. I am 7mos pregnant, and get offered coffee everywhere I go. It doesn’t get the same panicked “no no no no no it’s bad bad baaaad and you can’t have ANY” reaction that alcohol does.

    Practice sitting down and getting up gracefully. Because I notice at my OBs office, NONE of us are doing that.

  36. Double-posting to say that yeah, it’s kind of bad form to bring coffee, unfortunately. Especially if you generally run a little late. My boss was livid when someone came in for an interview with a Starbucks cup because she thought it said, “I am so laissez-faire about this interview that I stopped for a cup of coffee on the way.”

  37. Although if you tend to run early, does it say “I’m so on the ball that I had time to stop for a coffee on the way”? Lord, what a labyrinth of social niceties is the interview process.

    Practice sitting down and getting up gracefully. Because I notice at my OBs office, NONE of us are doing that.

    Ha, nice one!

  38. I might be the only person dim enough to have ever needed this advice, but: Do NOT wear an abdomen-squishing undergarment when you ARE pregnant. I’m getting my Ph.D and during my second pregnancy I was trying not to look pregnant when I went to campus. (I had been very depressed during my first – surprise! – pregnancy during my first year, and had recovered but wasn’t keen on reminding anyone of that time once I was pregnant again in my fourth year.)

    ANYWAY, a tummy-minimizer during early pregnancy means dizziness and varicose veins of the you-don’t-want-to-know-where. And I’m not saying whether that’s personal experience talking or the kind advice of a friend. ;)

  39. Also, I thought pregnant women were allowed 2 cups a day of coffee now? It was that way a year ago, where I live, with my OB’s practice. Is it not that way all over?

  40. Gillian Anderson did a whole season of the X Files and most of us didn’t notice that she was actually pregnant. Remember how she did it?

    Masculine-looking pantsuits with well-fitting pants and shoulder-padded blazers made to fit and close in front of the belly. I have that “pregnant” look myself, and my belly pretty much disappears in such an outfit. As do my boobs and my waist. It’s not a very flattering look and it’s going to add 20 pounds to your frame, I admit.
    But then, it’s often recommended to go for a masculine look in job interviews, because femininity is associated with playfulness, softness, etc., while masculine says “energetic” and “professional” to the well-conditioned subconscious. ;-)

  41. Also, I thought pregnant women were allowed 2 cups a day of coffee now?

    Dang… back to bringing a box of wine, I guess.

  42. I believe it’s poor form to eat or drink something you have brought during an interview. Especially something noisy or odorific.
    However, I have finished coffee in the lobby and recycled the cup in full view.
    I like to hope it gives the impression that I am prepared and ready to go.

  43. What obstetricians and midwifes suggest and what the general public believes are often different and variable by location.
    This thread reminds me of how theatrical the interview and networking process is. Argh.

  44. I wonder – if you have a trusted reference (one you’re close to), would it be possible to ask them to subtly work the fact that you’re not pregnant into the conversation when the new employer calls? Then it might be an “employer to employer” thing rather than the job applicant accusing the potential employer of discrimination.

  45. Hah. I remember Gillian Anderson sporting omigodBOOBS for quite a lot of that series of X Files.

    My gosh I’m so glad I don’t work in the corporate sector with my wavy hair and my pierced nose and my penchant for empire line clothing. I’ve been offered seats on the tube so many times it’s not even funny, mostly when I haven’t even been wearing empire line clothing.

    Y’know. Here’s what I’d do, because I seriously won’t wear a girdle – for anyone – for any reason. Ever.

    I’d say, as soon as the opportunity arose, (and, if one didn’t arise, I’d create one), “Um – I’d just like to clear something up, just in case you’re wondering and just in case it’s an issue for you. I’m not pregnant. Nor do I plan to be. In point of fact I prefer cats. I’m simply just not blessed with an hourglass shape. Glad I cleared that up. Now on with the interview. have you seen my awesome CV?”

    And I’m not trying to be funny. That is genuinely exactly what I’d do if I found myself in that situation.

  46. I don’t have any specific advice about garment shape to give, but if you do decide to purchase a “shaper” and/or bust-enhancing bra, I’d recommend making that purchase before you go suit shopping. You’ll want a blouse and suit that fits your body well, so it’s best to try them on with the undergarments you’ll actually be wearing.

  47. I, too, have been mistaken for pregnant. And at a party where my behavior would definitely have made me a *baaaad* pregnant lady – someone actually went up to my husband and asked if it was safe. Yuck. (At the attempt to police my behavior more than the mistake.)

    For a suit that visually flattens the tummy, I’d go with a jacket with princess seams (like lots of people have said), that ends exactly at your hipbones. I would *not* go with pants that start at the belly button – covering the entire stomach with fabric looks like more fabric. Try something that’s 1 and half to two inches below the belly button, a medium rise – and, as Dorianne said, flat front pants, NOT pleated. A wide band waist with a tab closure is good.

    I don’t know if these sizes will work for you, but something like these pants and this jacket? They’re on sale!

  48. I see that others have suggested interviewing over lunch and phone interviewing and stage-managing clothes.

    I wanted to add on the clothes front that if you go with the Gillian Anderson look, get your pants hemmed LONG so that you can wear higher-heeled boots under them. Tall + Pants-suit = masculine = less chance of being thought pregnant.

  49. I have nothing helpful to say in terms of hiding the belly. Mostly, I want to wish you the best of luck with your interviews, and I hope whatever your field is, you find a job that you love!

  50. My first thought was ‘Fetuses in your stomach? I should hope not-that would just pander to the perception that we feminists eat babies’

  51. FTR An obviously pregnant woman was hired where my DH works, they didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

  52. As someone who almost lost out on her current job because (and my boss admitted to me later) when he interviewed me he had the distinct impression I looked pregnant. But I knew it was a possibility, so during the less formal part of the interview I played up my obsession with coffee (how I can’t get up without a cup, yada yada) and my love for good wine (mentioned a wine tasting excursion I had taken the week before). He said that he got the hint I wasn’t pregnant from those topics. But good luck with the whole thing.

  53. A severely cut suit jacket could also work, even something double-breasted. It will make you look like a box, but at least you won’t look pregnant! Pregnant women usually go with an a-line.

    Absolutely no cardigans.

    When I needed a suit for interviews, and couldn’t find one that fit (I’m a 44F) I went to a seamstress and had one made-princess cut, with a zipper, and a trumpet skirt.

  54. Maybe you could work something subtle in if they ask about your hobbies? I’m usually asked a generic “tell me about yourself” question in interviews.

    You could mention that you’re training to run a 5K or a wind surfing competition in two months or something along those lines–something that would not only be difficult for a pregnant woman to do but that would interfere with the whole pregnancy timeline.

  55. interviewer: So… Tell me a little about yourself.

    Imaginary Fetus Girl: Well… I hate children and never ever want to have any under any circumstances ever. In fact I’m president of Child Haters Club of Greater Minneapolis, which is weird since I live in Tulsa, but that is just how much I detest the thought of caring for children. Not only do I not want kids but, due to an accident in childhood, it would be physically impossible for me to have any, so that works out really well for me.

    Too extreme?

  56. I’d say, as soon as the opportunity arose, (and, if one didn’t arise, I’d create one), “Um – I’d just like to clear something up, just in case you’re wondering and just in case it’s an issue for you. I’m not pregnant. Nor do I plan to be. In point of fact I prefer cats. I’m simply just not blessed with an hourglass shape. Glad I cleared that up. Now on with the interview. have you seen my awesome CV?”

    Buffpuff, as bracingly honest as that would be, I can imagine that some interviewers would be very put off and find it “unprofessional.” Sadly.

  57. I would advocate just saying you aren’t pregnant to the interviewer. Practice in front of the mirror and get comfortable with it. It would probably relieve them – there’s no polite way for them to ask, and if you are matter of fact it shouldn’t cause undue embarrasment to either of you. You know they’ll be wondering, so just answer the unspoken question.

    I have a muscle condition that forces me to sit after a very short while, and I’ve found that just being direct about it has worked well even in social situations where standing is usually required. I know it’s not the same, but sometimes direct is best.

  58. Yeah, you know…if *I* was doing the hiring and someone said that to me, I’d probably hire them on the spot because I admired their guts so much. Buuuuut….there’s a reason I’m not in a position to do that. I so don’t think the way corporate HR types do.

    But…I see nothing wrong with taking a great interest in your company’s near-future plans and saying something like, “I don’t have any kids or anything, and I don’t plan to anytime soon,” if it’s something that naturally flows out of the conversation.

    And yes, a belted outfit. Absolutely.

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  60. I think interviews are often about reading the interviewer. If the interviewer, male or female, seemed the domestic sort, I would probably be direct, but make it a soft apology:

    “There’s one thing that I like to mention because of my particular shape, because it is fun when new babies are born to staff members and I don’t like to get hopes up. I am not expecting a child nor plan to be anytime soon.”

    This way, you’re communicating the message without sending any “you’re planning to discriminate against me” messages.

    Of course, I’m Canadian. It is rumored that we all like apologizing. But I’m also pretty direct.

    The only problem with this approach is that some hate the mere hint that people HAVE bodies. So you’d have to make an educated guess about the personality of the interviewer – which means I’d say it nearer to the middle or end, after I’d gotten a read.

  61. I’m completely uneducated about fashion, what are princess seams/a princess cut? I think an empire cut is where the waist starts at the bottom of the bra, but the other is the vast unknown to me. I’m reading the Pretty Pear, and it’s a whole new world with new jargon and all, I feel lost sometimes.

  62. Nothing makes me look more pregnant than the supposedly stomach-hiding empire waist.

    This is slightly off topic, but: that is because empire waists make EVERYONE look pregnant. EVERYONE in the entire world. KATE MOSS would look pregnant in an empire waist. They do hide your stomach, by hiding it under the shape of a pregnant belly.

    Just wanted to get that clear.

  63. Piffie – princess seams are curved seams (where the fabric is joined together) that run from about mid-boob to somewhere below the waist. You usually see them in pairs, on either side of the body.

    Here’s a picture from a cute vintage pattern. The lines on either side of the buttons (that go under the pockets) are the princess seams, and there are more in the back.

    On something super-elaborate, like a wedding dress, you might have lots of princess seaming both front and back – they’re a great place for seamstresses/tailors to take in or let out to get a custom fit.

  64. Piffle, you’re right about empire waists, and I had the same question about princess seams when I first started reading fashion blogs! Here is an example of princess seams, they’re the seams running down the front of her dress from the top to the bottom.

  65. As someone who has been asked when my due date was throughout my entire adult life, including when I was underweight, I echo what others have said. Try Spanx power panties–their other products are very expensive, and the PP’s should get through an interview. Target sells them under a store label for $20. Get pants or a skirt with a waistband that cuts across, not over, your belly, and a jacket that ends slightly above the hipbone. I found a zippered jacket left open works well. Also, there’s a chance you could have a diastesis, or separation of your abdominal muscles. Women sometimes get these after a pregnancy, but I had mine before I ever got pregnant. A diastesis means that gas or anything else that causes your intestines to become distended seriously increases the pregnancy look. I’ve found that avoiding things like carbonated drinks right before a big event can help me reign in my gut from third-trimester size to late-first-trimester size.

  66. I was hired when I was a couple of months pregnant — and I didn’t look more pregnant than usual (I have an hourglassy-apply shape). My new boss was shocked for about 10 minutes and then excited. It all worked out okay.

  67. One thought that I’d kind of like to throw in here, though I don’t really know how its practical ramifications would play out, is: I would try to be aware of how your choice in addressing this plays into — or doesn’t play into — the discrimination that’s at the heart of it.

    Pregnant women get discriminated against because of fairly sexist assumptions about their ability to work, and because of our society’s refusal to help alleviate childcare burdens on women. I think that any response that implies you’d be a good worker *because* you don’t have kids kind of reinforces the very discrimination that you’re up against — the idea that women turn into flakey mommie zombies when they reproduce.

  68. If you truly want to eliminate your “bump,” and can invest about 150 bucks and stand some uncomfortableness, purchase an actual lace-up reducing corset with boning. These are popular in the, er, fetish and goth sort of circles. You can find shops and talented seamstresses on the internet who will make you one out of lovely fabric. They can sit under your bust (bra), take many inches off your waist, and will create an hourglass shape. Some people find them comfortable because of the back support. Some HAVE to get out of them in an hour or two.

    A radical proposal, but a fun garment for any occasional dress-up moment. (Yanno, job interview, Halloween, etc.)

  69. Ooooh, you get the most interesting questions! It’s certainly a poser, but to occhiblu’s point I think the best way to change a discriminatory oligarchy is from within. God knows we’ve been hammering at this one from outside for so long that if that worked, we’d be running the place.

  70. I interviewed for a job while four months pregnant with twins (I decided against the job, but did make it to the second round of the interview process, so I’m guessing my tricks worked), and I just want to echo a few of the comments already made:

    1. No cardigans. I wore a solid-color pants suit, with a somewhat muted top, and way flashier jewelery than I ever wear in my regular life.

    2. While under any other circumstances I would say to wear what fits your actual body, in this case, wearing something that de-emphasizes the slimness of the rest of you – i.e. something a bit bulky and square-ish – is going to help reinforce the impression of “not pregnant, just fat.”

    3. Wear a belt if at all possible – if there was one thing that would have given me away during that interview, it was the fact that no way in hell could I have managed to stand wearing a belt.

    4. A padded bra is a brilliant idea. For all that yes, pregnant women often are bustier, the first thing which makes people thing you /might/ be pregnant is the fact that your belly is bigger than your bust. The more you can do to equalize that, the more you can prevent that first wrong assumption from even happening.

    Good luck with your interview!!

  71. Well for me and my body shape, extra large hourglass (I gotta lot of time lol) the empire shape IS actually much more slimming on me and keeps me from looking pregnant which amuses me a little…

    but onto the topic at hand, all these suggestions have been great and I think trying what works for you and what you feel comfortable with before the interview is a good idea. I am the type that is always pretty straightforward, and I guess kind of naive about all this, as I never even thought about this being a problem before lol and I could totally see myself just blurting it out… I am like that lol.

    One thing I thought of while reading the posts about Gillian Anderson being pregnant during X-files I remembers hearing about other ladies who were pregnant during tv shows where their pregnancy was hidden, and thought about suggesting an oversize Laptop Bag or briefcase, not huge so as to be weird and such, but to strategically move in front of you and even hold in your lap as you sit or whatnot as I know that is one trick used alot on TV.

    I don’t know maybe that would work.

  72. Well, my first reaction was to wonder whether it’s something she really wants to do. Then I realized, clearly, the author really wants this job. And you know what? Sure. Either she’s passionate about the industry or passionate about putting food on her family with a Serious Corporate Salary. Good for her. It’s not my place to question someone’s dedication to her work. If Spanx are the sacrifice you have to make, then you do what you have to do. Just because our values are different doesn’t mean mine are more important. I’m proud of anyone who makes difficult choices based on her own priorities.

    The thing I worry about is the day when you leave the house without the girdle. I’ve lost opportunities because I relaxed and felt fairly secure and forgot to switch my pronouns, for example. They can always find a reason to fire you, whether the actual motivation is legal or not. My advice is don’t drop the girdle until you have saved up three months’ bills and feel that you are relatively essential. Presumably well-cut clothes and hints about wine-tasting will help hasten that day.

    The thing that gets me is– y’all ever notice that there’s no limit to what women are expected to do to look nice? There is no actual min or max standard. If there had been a memo along the lines of “flats, pantsuit, hair clean and off the face, mascara and lipstick, no more than two sets of earrings aaaaannd we’re good” I would be able to opt in or out, but as it stands, you’re just always wrong! You could get the clothes right, but someone won’t like your eyeliner. You could get the makeup and clothes right, but someone will object to your shoes. Or the fabric, or the color, or the lack of color, or the amount of jewelry, or your size and shape, apparent age, whatever. And everyone feels like they need to comment! In the systemic sense, there just is no win. Screw that.

  73. Tall + Pants-suit = masculine = less chance of being thought pregnant.

    And that can work in your favor, but it can also sink a woman going for an interview if the interviewer has a bias against “masculine” behavior in women. The woman could be perceived as loud, rude, and bitchy, without ever being any of those. And of course, being too feminine makes you seem frivolous and unfocused. Ah, the double standard.

    I think empire waists were originally designed to make women look pregnant. Everyone says princess seams, and I agree. (And if you find anything in a 28/30 with princess seams, let us know! I miss them terribly.) Shapewear might end up being distracting for you, try shoulder pads first before going into spandex. There aren’t that many shoulder padded suits and blouses out there, so I suggest looking in the sewing notions for a pair to take with you when you try things on. They’re easy to tack into a garment with a few stitches if you find something good.

    Wear a tasteful pair of small earrings and a conservative looking necklace, these will draw attention up to your face. I like a string of pearls for my interviews, freshwater pearls hint at conservative values without being too dowdy. (And they’re fairly inexpensive.)

    A lot of interviewers will try to work in subtle questions aimed at weeding out people with family commitments. Things like “Will you be able to work late/overtime/weekends/on short notice.” They can’t discriminate against people with children, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. Be positive and enthusiastic about being able to work on their schedule. As others have said, ask about long term projects, that’s good advice for anyone since companies want all their employees to be in for the long haul.

  74. Buffpuff, as bracingly honest as that would be, I can imagine that some interviewers would be very put off and find it “unprofessional.” Sadly.

    Well, like I say, I’m thankful I don’t have to operate in that sector because I’d go nuts in short order. As others have said, you can’t second guess what your interviewer(s) are going to be thinking in any case. I can’t see why being polite, honest and up-front about something the interviewer:-

    a) might be thinking anyway

    b) might have an issue with

    and

    c) knows damned well many other employers have an issue with, even if they don’t

    … would be perceived as unprofessional. Unless they resent the inference they might be prejudiced or the reminder that other employers might be. Or that they are prejudiced and object to being made to feel guilty about it..

    My response was genuine enough. That really is how I’d deal with it if I were in that situation. I have to say though, that despite those offers of seats on public transport, it would never even cross my mind that an employer would seriously be thinking I was up the duff. I’d’ve thought it was pretty damned obvious I’m fat. So I’m either supremely confident, staggeringly dim or mercifully unscarred by having been discriminated against on the grounds of my appearance in a work context .

    Veering just a smidge OT, there’s been a recent kerfuffle on the UK news about female lawers not being allowed to wear fishnets into work at some legal outfit or other because “it’s distracting” for the male lawyers who work there. Frankly, one sometimes wonders why said male lawyers aren’t hugely embarrassed about being portrayed as being so weak-willed and sex-obsessed that a mere glimpse of fishnet-encased ankle displayed by a woman who is forced to wear a drab black suit every day of her working life is enough to turn him into a wibbly mess incapable of doing his job. To my way of thinking it shows a marked lack of self-respect to blithely allow themselves to be portrayed in such a manner.

  75. Buffpuff, I wasn’t meaning to suggest that there was anything wrong with your suggestion; I just know that I’ve been in hiring situations where I’ve ben pretty shocked at what other interviewers consider “unprofessional” (e.g., mentioning that one has a boyfriend).

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  77. My response was genuine enough. That really is how I’d deal with it if I were in that situation. I have to say though, that despite those offers of seats on public transport, it would never even cross my mind that an employer would seriously be thinking I was up the duff. I’d’ve thought it was pretty damned obvious I’m fat. So I’m either supremely confident, staggeringly dim or mercifully unscarred by having been discriminated against on the grounds of my appearance in a work context .

    BuffPuff, I’m totally with you in principle–I’d be inclined to say something similar. I’m a big one for being yourself in a job interview, since that’s a great way to find out whether the company’s a good fit for YOU, instead of just the reverse. But Sweet Machine is certainly correct that some employers have strict and unpredictable definitions of “unprofessional,” so if you’re young and can’t afford to be choosy about your employer, zipping it might be the best strategy. I don’t think anyone’s right or wrong there–it’s just two different approaches, and which one you choose depends a lot on your personality.

    As far as it being obvious that you’re fat, not pregnant, I’d say (having seen pics of you) that it IS obvious. But I’ve definitely met women who do look pregnant and aren’t, so I’m assuming this young woman falls into that category, even if you both have the same basic shape.

  78. I just know that I’ve been in hiring situations where I’ve ben pretty shocked at what other interviewers consider “unprofessional” (e.g., mentioning that one has a boyfriend).

    I can say, also, from experience, that a job applicant mentioning a protected-class issue (age, ethnicity, religion, children, sexual identity (where that applies), etc.) can make an employer or interviewer nervous. I work for an organization that has, to some extent, a religious bent, and we’re hiring, and the people who are doing the interviewing got totally freaked out when a candidate asked about the religious culture in the office (because she was a different religion).

    Which, legally, is fine — the candidate can bring up these issues, the employer just can’t ask about them; and my office is actually really diverse and accepting — but my co-worker started stumbling all over himself because he wasn’t sure what he was legally or ethically allowed to comment on when the conversation veered that way.

    Granted, he’s not in HR (and the HR person who was in the interview took over and handled it fine), and our office skews liberal so the whole “PC guilt” thing may not be a factor at really conservative places, but I think it could fall into the thing Kate wrote about the other day, with people being uncomfortable using the word “fat” or hearing the word “fat” or acknowledging the existence of fat — if you bring it up yourself, you may trigger all those reactions, plus discomfort at bringing up an issue that the employer can’t legally conversationally pursue, and I think it’s likely to make everything hugely uncomfortable.

  79. my advice: wear what makes you feel professional and competent and let them think what they think and ask what they ask. for my first real job out of college, i wore a black suit to the interview with no bra. (i did wear a shirt, of course.) yes, i’m a masculine woman. and yes, i’m a lesbian. do people think i’ll be “difficult” (=feminist)? or do they think i’ll be “strong and assertive” (=masculine)? probably both from time to time. whatever. my point is that when, after that job, i started trying to play into what i thought other people’s expectations were, in job interviews just like anywhere else, i got myself stuck in a serious mindfuck. it’s just not worth it, not ever. that’ s my own personal experience. (and for what it’s worth, the commenter who said that ‘curly’ hair is not acceptable in the corporate world–that’s a sad symptom of corporate racism, i think. yeah, i trot my curly hair out for interviews, too. it’s the least this white girl can do for all the black women who have been tortured on the hair issue for years and years.)

  80. Argh! Sorry, Sweet Machine if I came across as sounding overly grouchy! I was simply trying to ascertain why someone would consider such a response to be unprofessional. If anything it’s made me feel even more angry about the lack of clothing choices fat women have. Trying to “pass” for not pregnant in a job interview is an entirely new concept to me.

  81. “A lot of interviewers will try to work in subtle questions aimed at weeding out people with family commitments. Things like “Will you be able to work late/overtime/weekends/on short notice.” They can’t discriminate against people with children, but that doesn’t stop them from trying.”

    Putting on my lawyer hat for a minute, that’s not a discriminatory question (unless the job really never requires working after hours on short notice, and the employer has reason to believe that it never will). It’s entirely legal to ask about things that are required or preferred for the job, even if they may be more difficult for those with families. Just like it’s OK to ask if you can lift 75 pounds if the job requires it, even though that may eliminate more women than men from consideration.

  82. Gawd, job-getting is just so ridiculous sometimes. I’m still all kinds of amused that in the interview for my last job, my interviewer and future boss asked me straight out about kids. So I told her about my cats.

    And two entirely unrelated things: first, I hate shapewear, but I have the kind that has a little rubber strip like on thigh-highs around the top and legs so it doesn’t migrate, which makes it bearable!

    Second, I’m totally confused that most empire tops don’t make me look pregnant. I tend not to buy the super-flowy kind, though, so maybe it has something to do with the proportion of rack above to floofiness below?

  83. FWIW I have a similar problem-I look pregnant, even tho I delivered 16 months ago! This is partly due to me being fat, and partly due to having a HUGE umbillical hernia-caused by having to have abdominal surgery at 14 weeks pregnant, so no time for the tiny inscision to heal before the tummy got big. ANYHOO-in a bid to get those stomach muscles to knit together again, I bought myself a ‘Squeem’http://www.galapagosboutique.com/Squeem-Brazilian-Waist-Cincher-Vest-p/squ-26j.htm and I have to say it’s great-pulls everything in and, even better, makes you stand up straight, so your posture is instantly better too. Goes up to a 5X, I’m a size 16-18 and I bought a size 2x but I could have gotten away with a 1x as I always wear it on the tightest row of hooks. The ‘nude’ color looks vile but you can’t see it under clothes, the black looks pretty darn sexy. It’s pretty comfortable, and I think it might be a great solution to your problem. Also, when it comes to what to wear-fitted pants suit in a dark color, jacket open, paler top worn to hide the waistband (lakes you look taller), heels and a big fat smile. OR if it’s a tiny bit more casual, pants & top in a lighter matching color, dark fitted or shapely jacket over it, feature belt worn just below the natural waist. Good luck with the interview!

  84. i’m just big everywhere… but in proportion i.e. i have a waist. i’m kinda scared to try shapewear because i’ve had such bad luck with it in the past. i do belts well, but i can’t find a flattering empire waist anything that doesn’t make me look like my 90 year old aunt.

    so, yes, i’ll pop for the suit, a nice blouse, and moderate heels (who hasn’t balanced their full body weight on the balls of their feet in high heels, hm?). go into any interview with confidence and knowledge and you’ll definitely impress some people… at least that’s been my experience

  85. You know, the first thing I’d ask the questioner is whether she’s ever been asked if she’s pregnant or had people mistake it. Too often we obsess about a body part that other people really don’t notice, even if we’re self-conscious about it. People are not as observant as they think they are. And so part of me wonders if this is just pre-job jitters manifesting in body insecurity. Like, I have the interviews, I have the grades, I’m confident, what can I find to stress about, what if they think I’m pregnant, etc.

    So that’s why I respectfully disagree that this is good advice:

    There’s one thing that I like to mention because of my particular shape, because it is fun when new babies are born to staff members and I don’t like to get hopes up. I am not expecting a child nor plan to be anytime soon.

    If the interviewer hasn’t noticed, this is going to come across all wrong, and might get them wondering why you found it important to mention.

    I’d go with a well-tailored suit, something with a little bit of padding in the shoulders. Something structured, not flowy and drapey. Heels if you’re comfortable with it.

  86. I work in human resources (and yay, I’m also a fattie) and I cannot stress enough how important it is to look well put together, regardless of your body type. I have been on countless interview panels and hear the same thing from panel members– looking pulled together and being well presented makes a difference. It lets us know that you cared enough about the interview and working with our organization to clean yourself up and put on your “good” outfit. Rightly or wrongly, it makes a difference. Having hair that doesn’t looked combed, smelling of BO, having holes in your clothing, shoes that look like they’re falling apart, etc. make a negative impression.

    If you feel put together (whether it’s a coordinated outfit, a new purse, an awesome pair of earrings, etc.) and have “cleaned up”, you’ll feel confident. If you feel confident, you should do well in the interview. Initial impressions about your appearance take place in the first minute or two, and then the focus switches to the interview and your qualifications. Focus your comments on the reasons why you are the best candidate for the job– that should get their attention. If you feel, for any reason, that you are being judged based on your size, then you have every right to follow up with a call to their human resources office, to discuss your concern. It’s not uncommon, even if size isn’t considered a protected characteristic via human rights legislation.

    If you decide to bring up your size or perception about being judged in the interview, be prepared for the panel to be intimidated, uncomfortable and probably nervous. That might not bode well for the remainder of the interview…

  87. I can’t help but wonder how the comments would differ if the issue was “how not to look fat in interviews,” because we all know there’s fat discrimination in the workplace too (albeit maybe not as common as pregnancy discrimination.)

    Anyway, to answer the question — if it’s for a job where casual formal is appropriate, I’d go with a flared skirt (cut on the bias) and a princess-cut blouse at waist-length. The princess-cut creates the illusion of a waist and the slight flare at the bottom disguises the top half of the bulge, and the flared skirt disguises the bottom half. The two-piece flare (as opposed to a one-piece princess dress) is crucial to the illusion. Anyway, I carry all my weight in my belly too and have slim appendages, and this is what works for me. I’d also wear a solid color, maybe dark blue. Over that I’d wear a lighter color duster to hang straight down from the shoulders, maybe with some texture to the weave, so the dark middle part recedes. This one’s nice for the shape, although I wouldn’t wear it buttoned. http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/view.2/app.detail And maybe heeled boots to finish it off.

    KathyR wrote: “And if you ever find any pants that fit your waist that don’t look like total clown pants on your butt and thighs, PLEASE let me know where you got them.”

    I have for the first time in many years found a pair of jeans that fit me. In the waist, in the butt, everywhere. I’m around 205-210, 5’6″, big belly and hips to give you an idea. It’s VF Jeanswear brand, apparently they make Wrangler and Lee. These just say “Riders” on the tag. If I could find them retail (I bought these used) I’d snap up several pairs.

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  89. Y’all make me glad I work in an area and an industry where I can interview in practically anything as long as it’s tidy and in good repair. During the dot-com boom I went to at least one interview in (newish, clean, unwrinkled) pajamas with freshly-polished combat boots and a nice sweater.

    This does bring up an important point to me: the original question doesn’t say what industry she’s looking to enter, what sort of work she does, or where she lives (or where she hopes to work). The dress code can be so different depending on those variables.

  90. I can’t help but wonder how the comments would differ if the issue was “how not to look fat in interviews,” because we all know there’s fat discrimination in the workplace too (albeit maybe not as common as pregnancy discrimination.)

    Yes, Aunt Fattie addressed that rather extensively in the post.

  91. Just do what Debra Messing did on Will & Grace. Carry a giant stuffed bear in front of your tummy. Or a painting. Or a flower pot. Or a chair. Or a box. Yes, a box! A box that says, “Caution. Heavy box. 50 lbs. Lift carefully.” Pregnant women tend not to carry heavy boxes.

    Also, if the interview will be less than an hour or so, I’d suggest a corset. It doesn’t HAVE to be very expensive (although those are definitely the ‘good’ ones — the handcrafted, pretty ones like the other poster was talking about). Victoria’s Secrets and similar places carry some for around $50. They’ll definitely flatten your tummy a bit so it doesn’t seem as prominent. But they aren’t all that comfortable. That, and a good suit jacket will help.

  92. happyapple – yes, Vickie’s and Frederick’s do carry less expensive corsets, but, having worn those, and having worn a well-made, quality corset, the latter is lightyears better in terms of comfort and control.

    It’s also about ten times more expensive, so at least I got what I paid for :)

    As for the original question, I wholeheartedly agree with everyone who says to be well-dressed, well-groomed, etc. While I did occasionally hire individuals who showed up to interviews in jeans, that was also at a non-profit, and their resumes, personalities, and references were simply outstanding.

    Secondly, I also agree with the suggestion about asking where you see the company/department going in the next 6-12 months, or what sorts of major projects they have coming up. Not only does this give you a chance to talk about what contributions you could make in that timeline, but the interview is you interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you.

  93. After reading all of this, and despairing, about the only piece of helpful advice I can offer is my state (Western Australia) is currently in the middle of a resources boom, and just about every business in town has a sign out front saying “help wanted” – if all else fails, you could always consider emigrating!

    You haven’t mentioned which field you’re hoping to work in. If you’re aiming for a specialist, technical (or male-dominated) profession, such as computing, science, lab work, engineering, etc, you’ll probably be evaluated more on your skills than your appearance in the first place. The point where you need to worry is when you’re interviewing for “office worker” sorts of jobs, where individual skill isn’t the major criterion the HR types are looking for (instead, they’re looking for the cookie-cutter corporate zombie type) or the sort of job which relies on what are euphemised as “people skills”, where appearance can often be viewed as an indicator of skill.

    (Overall hint for technical positions – dress practically for the job you’re applying for.)

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