Scoring a theater internship is an excellent way to gain experience and make connections in the connection-driven art world. During your interview, potential theater companies will probably be looking for characteristics such as your knowledge of theater, self-confidence, communication skills and problem-solving ability. Beyond your verbal responses, though, interviewers might be scoping your choice of dress for the interview to learn more about your attitudes when it comes to professionalism. Leave the dramatic costuming to the actors and stick with conservative, professional attire to make a positive impression.
Unfortunately, interns have created a negative impression among many employers when it comes to appropriate attire, according to the 2013 Slate article, “Don’t Be a Skintern. What Not to Wear to Your Summer Internship.” Attire better left at home includes items such as sheer pants, short shorts or exposed undergarments. If you wear a sheer clothing item to your theater internship interview, pair it with a conservative slip or additional tank top. Mini-dresses and mini-skirts will make a negative impression during the interview. The NYC Internships by Merit Theater and Film Group, Inc. emphasize that low-cut tops should be avoided. Test for exposed skin by bending down; if your back becomes exposed it might be better to wear an undershirt or belt.
Following your interview, some theater companies might hand you an employee guidebook outlining expected attire for your duties. For example, intern theater ushers might wear professional black slacks and a white jacket, according to the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Even if you’ve done your homework by visiting the theater’s website, or observed clothing worn by previous interns within the company, leave these items at home for the interview. You’re better off wearing traditional interviewing items to establish a professional tone.
Some theaters take on interns for jobs involving physical labor. Example tasks might include T-shirts, jeans and heavy work boots, according to Circle Theater.org. Even if you’re applying for interning work that involves a more relaxed dress code, you’ll still want to choose conservative items such as pressed slacks, a button-down shirt and clean, tidy shoes during the interview.
It’s true that the world of arts and theater is known for fashion and glamour, to some extent. There’s nothing wrong with presenting yourself as fashion-conscious or attentive to looking attractive and polished. However, avoid making dramatic fashion statements during the interview, according to the University of California, Davis Internship and Career Center. Heavy fragrance, costume jewelry and oversize purses should be avoided. Carrying or using your cell phone during the interview will not make you appear well connected; you will come across as rude or disrespectful.
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.