How to Interview in a Snowstorm

snowstorm-interviewWhat should you do if you have an interview — in a snowstorm?  Reader A wonders:

Can you do a post on what to wear to an interview during a snow storm?

I have a few interviews set for this week, but with the approaching east coast storm, I don’t want to walk into an office with my winter coat, scarf, hat, laptop, etc. plus a huge bag just for snow shoes (not to mention awkwardly changing into heels nearby or in the lobby).

Do you recommend just bringing an extra bag to change shoes or do you have another trick or solution?

We’ve talked about general interview tips, as well as how to look professional in cold weather as well as a New York winter, but not this particular situation.  Note that “professionalism” includes your own judgment about how to dress appropriately for the weather, so I wouldn’t worry about wearing “normal” interview attire TOO much — if you have to leave a bag with snowboots at the hiring office (or bring it with you to the interview), it isn’t the end of the world.  That said, I did come up with a few tips for you:

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  • Lighten your load as much as you can. For example, do you really need to bring your laptop to the interview? If you do, then you do, but that would be the first thing I’d consider leaving at home.  If you can, bring a laptop sleeve instead of a separate bag for a laptop, or buy a tote that has a separate lining for your laptop, such as the Jetset tote or the O.G.  If you know you’re going to have to slip your commuting shoes and your interview shoes, that goes double.  (Don’t forget the plastic bag to put your shoes in!)
  • Arrive early enough to pop into a coffee shop nearby with a bathroom.  I would take my hat off there, get the “winter slap” look out of my face, and also use the space to change into heels or boots.
  • A note on shoes in snowstorms.  First: For my $.02, in the midst of a snowstorm, I think a pantsuit and boots are totally fine, even for an interview.  You do have some options, though, for shoes that should fit into your trusty interview tote:
    • Packable wellies.  These aren’t the warmest option, but they pack down nicely and could be thrown into your regular interview bag.  If you’re wearing them with pantyhose, be sure to wear knee-high socks with them (or even get a welly liner).
    • Ankle-height snowboots, such as Lands’ End All Weather Mocs.  Oh yes: these are hideous.  But they’re only $60 — not bad for commuting shoes! — and they’re relatively easy to slip into a plastic bag and throw into your regular tote bag.
    • Overshoes.  I only just found this product, but it looks amazing: Neos Overshoes, which you slip on OVER your regular shoes. It’s pricey, but if you live/work in an area with plenty of snow, these babies might be great.  They look like they would pack down enough to slip into an interview bag.  I would probably only wear these with flats and not chance heels, but your mileage may vary.  (Amazon has a few other products that might be great — these rain shoe covers might be great to keep in your office for that emergency when it unexpectedly starts raining and all you’re wearing is a pair of shoes that you can’t get wet! Sadly, the Shuella seems to be no more.)
  • Finally: it’s a snowstorm.  Don’t worry about it too much — and keep your personal safety where it belongs, which is at the top of your priority list.

Ladies, what are your thoughts for interviewing in a snowstorm?  I’ve offered some tips for wearing normal interview attire, but would you really think poorly of someone who came to interview dressed for a snowstorm?

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How to Interview in a Snowstorm

Comments

  1. Wildkitten :

    Take a cab to minimize exposure to the elements. Don’t worry about “awkwardly changing shoes” – everyone does it.

    • TO Lawyer :

      +1 – also lobbies are a great place to change your shoes etc. You’re interviewing in a city where it normally snows I suspect so being able to deal with that is a plus.

      • Jumpingjack :

        Yes, definitely change your shoes in the lobby (or restroom). Do not change out of your boots in front of the receptionist (as I’ve heard of at least one person doing).

        • I don’t see why this would be a huge deal unless you are asking the receptionist to remove your boots for you (or inadvertently flashing him/her while swapping shoes if you’re wearing a skirt).

          • Jumpingjack :

            I think that you should show the receptionist the same amount of respect that you show anyone else in the office. And this includes not using his/her office space (the reception area) as a changing room. It’s very possible that the receptionist wouldn’t care. But I wouldn’t want to risk the possibility that they would and would tell the people making hiring decisions.

  2. This is so not a big deal. Showing up with a coat, hat, scarf and gloves in winter is standard. Bring one of those little collapsible totes bags, change in the lobby into real shoes, and politely ask the receptionist if you can leave your boots with her. Your laptop goes in your regular interview tote bag, winter accessories tucked into your coat sleeves.

  3. I had this happen to me two years ago. On the morning of a day a storm was supposed to hit, I had a second interview in NYC (and I was coming from the burbs so had to take the train in, plus subway to the firm’s office). I really didn’t want to go, but my family and boyfriend insisted that I make the trek. The snow had already started to fall by the time I left home. I wore a regular interview suit under my winter coat with knee high snow boots (black with some gray-white fur embellishment) and brought a plastic bag to hold my heels. Unfortunately the plastic bag broke on the street as I was exiting the subway and I arrived at the reception desk completely flustered because I had nearly lost my shoes. I asked the receptionist if she had another plastic bag that I could put my wet boots in and she tracked one down for me. I changed into my heels in the lobby area and left the boot bag with her. Thankfully my interviewer wasn’t ready for me yet so after a few minutes of decompressing, I was brought into a conference room for the interview. Then I trekked back home in the increasingly sloppy weather. That afternoon I got a call from the HR rep informing me that they were offering me the job. I accepted and am still happy in the position two years later.

    My lessons learned: (1) most employers won’t care if you wear winter weather attire as long as it’s appropriate; (2) make sure your plastic bag is sturdy and doesn’t have holes (or double bag!); and (3) go to the interview, even if it’s snowing!

  4. Do you really want to work in a office where they would penalize you for dressing as necessary for the weather and quickly changing into heels in the lobby? Just take a cab (as mentioned in the other comment) so that your pants or stockings aren’t covered with salt or soaked with slush.

    • Wildkitten :

      But you want to show up for an interview feeling polished and prepared, and it’s hard to feel that way in a snowstorm. I think this is a valid question.

    • Disagree. There’s ample time to prepare yourself. You want to look, at a minimum, on par with the people you are interviewing with, and they’re not in snow boots. Change in the restroom or in the lobby.

  5. If your interview is in a big building in a major city it probably has some sort of shared lobby or reception with restrooms. (Your interview instructions probably say.) Arrive early, ask reception where the restrooms are and change there. You can even ask reception not to notify people you have arrived until you come back from the restroom, so they won’t have to wait. There may even be a place for you to leave your tote/bag with boots and coat; that way the people you interview with will never see them. Just remember to be polite to the receptionist.

    • Diana Barry :

      +1. I would definitely do this.

      As a side note, I have worn actual snow boots (under a suit) to an interview with a solo practitioner in a snowstorm. I got the job! Any decent human being will notice the weather.

  6. anonymous :

    My husband bought a pair of those NEOS boots and they are very handy and useful as short term covers and fold up pretty small.

  7. I had an interview at my company the day after a snow storm – so some of the streets were fine, but many sidewalks still icy. My company is located in the burbs, but I walked there from public transportation. I found the nearest coffee shop, begged the lovely people to let me change in their bathroom (there were no major chains in this area) and then walked in flats with boots in a bag to the interview (no lobby, just straight to reception). Thinking back now, I probably would have worn my boots all the way there, but as long as it is a short commute between the coffee shop and office, I think either works.

  8. Did anyone else’s mom wear those galoshes that fit over high heels in the 80s? They covered the front of the shoe then had a sort of strap that went around the back so the heel could go through. My mom carried them in a little case in her briefcase. Why did they ever go out of style? So practical! (But then I always thought my grandma’s little plastic rain hood that fit in a pouch in her purse was also practical and I wish those hadn’t gone out of style, either!)

    • Maddie Ross :

      My dad totally had something similar. They were like little black rubber shoe covers. I thought they were hysterical at the time.

      • They’re called rubbers, which, when I was a kid, was a source of endless amusement for preteens boys.

    • anon-oh-no :

      I want these:

      http://www.polyvore.com/vintage_50s_60s_clear_rubber/thing?id=27270036

  9. Am I missing something? What would be wrong with wearing clean snow boots in good condition? (Assuming they’re not pink or covered with fake fur, of course). In a major storm, is anyone going to penalize a candidate for not changing into heels? I know I wouldn’t.

    • Anonymous :

      I would. Outdoor shoes v. indoor shoes. Don’t go tracking snow all over inside. Do you honestly get into work and just rock snow boots all day? No right? Change your shoes for an interview.

      • When I get to work I have a place to put my boots – under my desk. I don’t have that place at an interview. Carrying a plastic bag with boots, or even trying to shove that plastic bag into a tote bag is not attractive. Snow boots meant for a real snow storm don’t fold up nice and neat like a pair of flats.

        Also, when I arrive at work in boots I don’t change in the lobby, obviously, so if there were any snow on my boots after wiping my feet at the entrance, that snow would come indoors.

        • + 1

          The comment by the anonymous poster above is pretty unreasonable IMO. Safety comes first, I wouldn’t expect someone to wear heels in very cold temperatures and risk a bad fall on icy sidewalks. If they come in boots, fine- (so long as they are understated and not too colorful, with fur etc). If they had to change into heels and stow the boots somewhere in a plastic bag, that’s okay too.

        • Anonymous :

          Wait so a bag is unattractive but wearing snow boots to an interview is a-ok?

          And safety? Really?!? Zero people are saying you must commute in heels. Just slip your snow boots off when you get there

    • Anonymous :

      same thing that would be wrong with sneakers for an interview. you gotta change

      • There’s no weather condition that necessitates wearing sneakers, though.

  10. Maddie Ross :

    I think some of this is not a “know your office” but rather know your region thing, too. I live in the south now and in a very car heavy community. Even if you were not a normal car commuter, most people would look totally askance at someone showing up for an interview in snowboots and not changing into heels/appropriate shoes. Frankly, nothing in the south is ever actually going to go forward in a “snowstorm” that’s big enough to warrant boots, so please don’t ever show up to an interview in them south of the mason dixon line. But in the north, where I grew up, I remember dutifully carrying my plastic bag of school shoes every morning and changing out of my snowboots at school. I think the same would apply for interviewing at in a northern city in a true snowstorm. Just be discrete and don’t make a big deal about it.

  11. This happened to me- I interviewed in DC last winter during the snowpocalipse! (FWIW, business casual office)My second round interview I arrived in town the night before, and it started DUMPING snow. My interviewer emailed me and said she wouldn’t be going into the office, so we did that interview via video webex. My third round interview it had just snowed the day before–so the roads were salt-covered and I had a 5 block walk from the metro. I wore kitten heeled knee-high cole haan pointy boots with my skirt suit and black tights and a long coat, which was practical for later in the day when we walked together from the office to lunch and everyone else was wearing hunter boots over skinny pants or dresses.

    I think in a northern city, especially one where people take public transit or walk to work, they’ll be most concerned that you’re practical safe and warm, rather than perfectly stylish but freezing. Find the most professional, weather-appropriate apparel you can, and don’t apologize for your decision.

  12. I’ve told this story here before but I got called out (in a good way) in law school by a judge for wearing snow boots. We had to go to a presentation in this judge’s courtroom and it was snowing like crazy out. I wore black plain snow boots under my suit and brought my heels to change. When I got to court the parking lot wasn’t at all plowed and I knew there was nowhere to leave my boots inside so I just wore them.

    Halfway through the judge’s presentation he stopped, looked at my feet and said “wow, at least one of you has some sense in this room.” He then lifted up his pant leg to reveal that he was wearing Carharts under his robe. He then proceeded with the rest of his speech.

    At the time, I was mortified even though it was meant to be a compliment. I find it really funny now.

  13. And if you’re the interviewer, why not send your interviewees a quick note the night before to let them know it’s fine to show up in weather-appropriate clothing? That way they don’t have to worry about their footwear and can concentrate on the stuff that matters.

  14. I interviewed in a massive snowstorm. Wore a warm pantsuit with snow boots, a cashmere sweater under and a long puffy coat and was comlemented by my interviewer for dressing for the weather. I got the job. I think dressing sensibly is always appreciated. And that includes leaving your boots in the car when you’re going from indoor garage directly to an office just as much as not wearing pumps and nude hose in a blizzard.

  15. Interviewed last year right after a snowstorm in Boston for a gov’t lawyer job. Wore snow boots for commuting (public transportation + walking in slush = ew) and changed into heels/freshened my face in the building’s lobby bathroom prior to arriving in the office–put the boots in a plastic bag inside a tote bag and left the tote in the office lobby prior to the interview. Got the job.

    Just be practical so that you don’t show up to the interview as a hot mess.

  16. SteelCityMagnolia :

    I’d be more concerned about someone coming to an interview who was not properly dressed for the elements. Years back I was at a media/broadcasting job fair. It was a day and a half after a major snowstorm and most of the area around the venue was still being cleaned up. There were huge piles of snow between the parking lot and sidewalks and the only way TO the sidewalks was to climb those huge piles of snow. There were girls coming in to apply/interview for the local news stations wearing skirt suits, sky high heels and bare legs. Some of them could have changed in the restroom, but I actually followed a few of them in from the parking lot. It was almost hysterical watching them try to navigate those glaciers in those shoes and by the time they got inside, their knees were knocking and they were all but blue from the cold. I thought to myself “Yep, first time they have you stand outside of the football stadium/local hospital/police headquarters in 3 feet of snow and high winds, those bare legs are going to do you a world of good.”

    Practicality and common sense, folks. People get that it snows. People get that it’s a royal pain in the posterior to commute in a snowstorm. If you live/work in the snowbelt, nobody is going to raise an eyebrow at you for dressing for the elements (providing, of course, your boots aren’t pink/have glitter or fur/feature Hello Kitty, etc). If you aren’t in the snowbelt and it snows, nobody is going to raise an eyebrow because they’re too worried about how they’re going to get home (if they haven’t already rescheduled your interview and tried to get home already.)

    • Same here! If I were interviewing someone for a job in Boston, I would be worried if someone came to the interview clearly not dressed for the weather. Especially if they’d just moved to the area, I’d worry that they wouldn’t be properly equipped (literally) to deal with working in the area year-round, and our weather might eventually make them want to move somewhere else. Or, I’d worry that as long as they were there they’d come in every day during the winter whining about how cold and gross it is outside.

      I mean, I guess if she was an amazing candidate, we could hire her and then coach her to wear boots when commuting, tell her about fleece-lined and sweater tights, etc.

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