What you wear to an oilfield job interview depend on the position for which you're being considered. Don't assume that it's acceptable to wear a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers just because of the working conditions for some oilfield jobs. Wearing the wrong interview attire could blow your only chance to make a favorable first impression, even if many of the oil rigs are desperately seeking women to fill a variety positions in this occupational area.
Chemical Engineer Jobs
When you interview for a position as an oilfield chemical engineer, the recruiter or hiring manager will probably expect you to wear a suit. It's a male-dominated field and, although you needn't conform by wearing overly masculine-looking attire, you will probably look out of place if you wear an ultra-feminine or trendy suit with a blouse to match. Stick with the basics. Wear a dark suit or coordinating separates in navy, brown, charcoal gray or black. Don't arrive at your interview carrying a handbag with designer logo imprints, either. Leave your purse in the car and bring a slim, professional-styled portfolio that contains extra copies of your resume, cover letter and list of references.
Offshore Platforms Jobs
If you're going to wear business casual clothes for an interview on one of the oilfield's offshore platforms, don't get too casual. Matching separates, or khakis and a muted-color blouse or shirt, will be acceptable for an on-site interview. However, if you're going to interview with a recruiter who is retained to fill certain positions, step it up a notch. Casual shoes that you wear to an oilfield interview mean loafers -- not sneakers, sandals or steel-toe boots, although you'll probably wear the latter as part of your everyday attire.
If you're interviewing for a role as a scientist for an oilfield, chances are you'll be expected to demonstrate a little more sophistication than your offshore platform counterparts. Still, women scientists comprise a small percentage of the workers in this field, according to staff writer Kathrine Schmidt in her November 2009 article titled, "Women Gaining Ground in the Oilfield," for the DailyComet.com, out of Louisiana. Schmidt says it isn't unusual to see women working on oilfields; nevertheless, in science, engineering and nontraditional spots such as those as oil riggers, women are underrepresented. Wear a suit, just as you would for a job interview to become a chemical engineer. And in case you're debating whether to wear a skirt or slacks, opt for the slacks.
Heavy Construction Jobs
Oilfields employ workers in many different positions, including those as heavy equipment and forklift operators, drilling specialists, mud loggers, roustabouts, crane operators, truck drivers and welders. Interview attire for any one of these spots should be business casual, just like other oilfield jobs that might require you to go on-site for your interview. Avoid wearing anything that looks cumbersome, seductive or restrictive, but don't show up in the jeans that you feel most comfortable wearing on the weekends.
Regardless of the position for which you're being interviewed, some basic no-no's for any job in an oilfield include no overpowering fragrances, long nails, stilettos or ankle-strap shoes, elaborate hairstyles, dangling earrings, or multiple rings and bracelets. Keep it simple. The increasing number of women in the field is encouraging, but that doesn't mean that you should express the fashionista inside you.
- DailyComet.com: Women Gaining Ground in the Oilfield
- ABC News: Breaking New Ground: Oil Boom Draws More Women to Industry
- NBC News: Life on an Oil Field 'Man Camp' -- Not for Everyone
- State of North Dakota Job Service: Oilfield Jobs: General Overview of Oilfield Positions
- Careers in Oil & Gas: Resources for Women
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Oil and Gas Workers
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.