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On the job, preschool teachers must dress for any possible situation, including spilled apple juice, finger-paint activities, visiting district officials and meeting with parents. Many dress casually in slacks, shirts permitting plenty of movement and sneakers or other flat-soled shoes. These clothing choices might be acceptable in some classroom environments but take a more formal approach for your job interview. Stow your cartoon-printed smocks and casual corduroys and learn appropriate dress choices for a preschool teaching job interview.
Visit the preschool to gauge the school environment. Although unlikely, if office workers, teachers and other school staff are wearing formal business attire, dress accordingly during the job interview. Don’t make assumptions that preschool environments translate to informality; the school to which you’re applying might require school uniforms for kids and business attire for teachers.
Start from the inside out with appropriate undergarments and hosiery when dressing. As with any teaching interview, you’ll want to make a conservative fashion impression. Women: Stick with a neutral-toned bra with straps that won’t make an appearance during your interview. Men and women preschool teaching applicants should choose conservative hosiery in black, navy, gray or beige, depending on clothing color.
Wear freshly ironed slacks and button-down shirt; men should wear a tie. Depending on your assessment of school culture formality, a blazer or cardigan can replace formal business jacket. Women preschool teachers can choose to wear a dress; avoid low-cut or too-short designs. Because preschools want to hire warm, creative teachers to interact with young kids, it’s fine to branch out from traditional business color choices and fabrics. A sunny-yellow dress, mint-green cardigan or apple-printed skirt can help you convey friendliness and comfort in a kid-friendly environment.
Choose tidy, business casual shoes. As with any teaching job, avoid combat boots, open-toed sandals, or athletic sneakers. Excessively tall high heels might convey that you’re unwilling or unable to chase after energetic little kids, so women should choose a low heel.
Accessorize to demonstrate kid-friendliness and creative flair, attributes valued by preschool administrators. Avoid long, dangling earrings or expensive jewelry. Score extra points by wearing something handmade to illustrate your arts-and-craftiness. For example, when discussing your preschool art lessons, point to your beaded bracelet and explain that last fall your students made “beads” by rolling up strips of paper torn from colorful magazine photographs and stringing them on wire.
- Etools4education.com: Dress for Success/Dress Code
- Quintessential Careers; When Job-Hunting: Dress for Success; Randall Hansen
- Education.com: Job Interviews: Following Today's More Relaxed Dress Code; Joyce Lain Kennedy; 2008
- Best-Job-Interview.com: Know the Right Job Interview Dress Code
- Bridgeton Public Schools: Staff Dress Code
- "Good Housekeeping"; Teacher Makeovers That Made the Grade
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.