It’s that time of year again, people. The major academic associations in the fields of History (the American Historical Association) and Literature (the Modern Language Association) will be meeting this week/end in Atlanta (Ga.) and Austin (Tex.), respectively. There will be panels and receptions and live-tweeting. There will be coffee dates and awkward elevator encounters and tearful/drunken grad program reunions. And there will be first-round job interviews.

Last year, I bemoaned the state of interview fashion at the AHA and suggested a series of awesome looks that I wished people would wear.

This year, I present some outfits that a job candidate should not wear to her/his interview. Under any circumstances.

 

“I am most excited that this is a designated position in environmental studies.”

(Getty Images/Stuart Wilson)
(Getty Images/Stuart Wilson)

 

“The most important element of a good syllabus is structure.”

(AP Photo/I.Lopez)
(AP Photo/I.Lopez)

 

“I bring a very unique skill set to the classroom.”

(Photo: Slaven Vlasic)
(Photo: Slaven Vlasic)

 

Wait. Wrong list. You’re welcome.

idris_elba_buff_body

 

“What’s the matter? Do I have something on my face?”

(Reuters)
(Reuters)

 

“I believe in transparency at all levels.”

Transparency

 

“I try to bring history to life in my classes.”

Bring history to life

 

“I hope you don’t mind that I brought some friends with me.”

(Photo: Mike Coppola)
(Photo: Mike Coppola)

 

“How do you think this interview is going? I’m having trouble reading your reactions.”

(Getty/Stuart Wilson)
(Getty/Stuart Wilson)

 

13 thoughts on “What Not To Wear … to your AHA or MLA interview

  1. I am a historian and am married to a literary critic and can tell you that the MLA folks dress WAY better than the AHA-ers. I think most historians assume that since they spend their life in archives they must dress the part ALL THE TIME. I am just as guilty as the rest of my colleagues, wearing sweatpants most of the time.

    1. Oh, yes. The foreign language and literature people in particular — they really bring it with the accessories (scarves, shoes).

  2. in all seriousness — we had a great candidate a few years back who dressed in a jean miniskirt, sweater, and jean jacket, and did a fair amount of Sharon Stone throughout the interview. I personally still regret not hiring her. She’s an amazing historian. But we didn’t know that at the time (earlier in her career, she hadn’t published all that much yet) and the inappropriate garb plus the spread-eagled legs made us think she was socially clueless, and wouldn’t fit well into our little department in Small Town, USA. This is a real issue, folks! Moral of the story — wear pants or otherwise make sure not to flash your undies at the hiring committee!

  3. This is funny; however, its is REALLY important how you dress. We had a candidate for a job who dressed casually; I did not really care, a colleague did. I am not saying that’s why the person did not do well in the interview, but it did not help. Be boring, be formal.

    1. Oh, yes. The boring, formal suits will abound. And this is important. But we can all dream of a world in which candidates have a little more freedom to be themselves, and dress accordingly.

  4. HAhahaha! Although you know that MLA and AHA have very different fashion sensibilities, so some of the looks above might work at MLA, but never at AHA.

    I’m going to pack for AHA right now, as a matter of fact.

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