You’ve received several medical school interviews and are concerned that you’re not up to date on interview fashion. Well, you’re not alone. A professional appearance is a key part of the medical school interview process and these attire guidelines will help you pick out an outfit to wear. When deciding what to wear for your medical school interview, I encourage you to think about how you would want your doctor to look and try to imitate that while also staying true to yourself. It is ideal to dress conservatively and professionally while avoiding fashion choices that might make you uncomfortable or contradict your own norms.
Some general rules to follow:
- Have your outfit dry cleaned, if necessary.
- Try on the outfit you plan to wear and get any necessary alterations ahead of time.
- Remove all tags.
- Make sure you are comfortable walking, sitting, and standing in your outfit.
- Iron or steam all items before wearing them to make sure they are wrinkle-free.
- Use a lint roller on interview day, if needed.
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If you are due for a haircut, be sure to get one before your interview. More conservative medical school admissions committee members would advise against men wearing long hair, but, we have worked with successful applicants who were true to themselves and didn’t follow this party line. Women can wear hair up, down, or half up/half down. Again, do what is most comfortable for you! Avoid any glamorous hair styles that might be more appropriate for a party.
Be sure your nails are trimmed and filed. Women should ideally have nails on the shorter side with no polish or a neutral polish if preferred.
Men’s facial hair should be cleanly shaven or well-groomed.
This may seem obvious to some, but, be sure to shower the morning of your interview, brush your teeth, comb and brush your hair. Ensure you have enough time the morning of your interview to get ready so you don’t feel rushed.
Bring face powder, a brush, a travel toothbrush/toothpaste or anything else that you might need to freshen up during your interview day.
Outfits For Men
Men have fewer fashion choices to make than women! Other than avoiding linen (which wrinkles very easily and can stretch) and white suits, there is little to be wary of when it comes to mens’ attire options. You want your interview day outfit to be comfortable, confidence-boosting, and empowering.
Suit or Jacket
We advise men to always wear a suit or blazer/sport coat. Ideally, our first choice is to go with a suit, but, if finances are an issue, choosing a sport jacket or blazer with professional dress pants can be a great substitute. For men, we also advise wearing a “safe” and conservative color choice such as grey, black, or navy blue. If possible, choose a modern-fit suit and avoid wearing oversized suits or jackets. Be sure to get any new or hand-me-down suit tailored or altered as necessary and well in advance of your interview.
When deciding what shirt to wear with your suit or jacket, a conservative light colored button down shirt is the best option. While it can work for some applicants, it’s usually safest to stay away from patterns and bright colors. Always wear a tie (or bow tie depending on your personal style). Choose a tie with a traditional pattern that matches your shirt, and stay away from any kooky novelty ties. Always tuck in your shirt.
Pants & Belt
If you don’t have a suit and are pairing a jacket with pants, we advise you wear pants that are tailored and match the jacket color as closely as possible. Dress pants are the way to go and jeans are never acceptable attire for a professional interview.
All men should wear belts and, ideally, your belt color should match your shoes.
Dress shoes that match your belt are the best choice for interview day. You will be walking a lot on interview day so be sure to break in any new shoes. Avoid overworn shoes and anything too casual such as sneakers, boat shoes or loafers. Wear mid-calf dress socks that match your shoes and belt.
Men generally have fewer accessory choices. If you wear a watch or other conservative jewelry, including wedding rings, on a day-to-day basis, we advise wearing the same for interview day. Consider wearing a tie clip and cuff links if your outfit calls for it. Avoid hats.
Outfits For Women
Women have many choices when deciding what to wear to a medical school interview. Regardless of the option you choose, make sure you look professional while being comfortable. Your outfit should boost your confidence and make you feel empowered.
Most people reflexively think of wearing a suit to a medical school interview, and this is indeed a great choice. Whether you choose a classic or modern fit, wearing a suit can often be an easy option since both the jacket and pants/skirt can be bought together and no mixing or matching is required. While traditional colors such as navy, grey, or black are safe, if you are comfortable and find a colored professional suit you would like to wear, by all means you should! Sometimes it’s best to stand out in a crowd while still looking professional.
Tops & Shirts
If you are wearing a suit jacket, choose a classic blouse or sweater that fits well beneath the jacket. If you are wearing a traditional color, consider having a pop of color in your blouse or sweater. Be sure to stay away from anything too low cut. Unless you are wearing a specific style that calls for an untucked shirt, it’s always best to tuck your shirt in!
Skirt or Pants?
Wearing skirts or pants are both acceptable and our advice is to wear what makes you feel most comfortable and confident. If choosing a skirt, wear something that is above the knee or longer (no mini skirts). If wearing pants, try to stick with a classic style and fit. Regardless of what you wear on bottom, ensure you are comfortable walking, standing, and sitting in your outfit.
With so many great professional dresses on the market, this is also a terrific option for your medical school interview. Consider looking at shift dresses which can look great with tights and boots as well as closed-toe shoes. You can also pair a dress with a matching or contrasting cardigan or jacket.
Again, comfort here is key. And, even if sneakers are very much in fashion, we recommend wearing a low-heeled shoe or boot. The general rule of thumb for hospital personnel is to wear closed-toe shoes, however, a professional open sandal can be acceptable. What is most important is to wear a shoe in which you are comfortable since you will be walking a lot on interview day. Be sure to break in any new shoes before wearing them on interview day and make sure your don’t have “noisy shoes” that might be distracting when you are walking! Avoid any high or spiky heels. We recommend wearing pantyhose or tights with any skirt or dress and knee high pantyhose or socks with pants.
Wearing some jewelry is appropriate, but, don’t overdo it! Earrings, if you wear them, should be studs or a small hanging style. You can wear rings, including engagement and wedding rings, that you wear on a daily basis. Necklaces and bracelets are also acceptable; generally smaller and understated is better, but, be true to yourself and wear what best reflects who you are. If possible, avoid large statement pieces that might be distracting. Depending on your outfit and personal style, a scarf can also work well on interview day.
Wearing professional makeup on interview day including concealer, foundation, light eyeliner, mascara, blush and lipstick or lip gloss is acceptable. But, again, we encourage you to wear the type and amount of makeup that you usually wear on a day to day basis. Some people prefer to wear no makeup whereas others might routinely wear heavier makeup. Again, use your judgement with regards to what looks professional and what makes you feel best about yourself.
Bring a purse, bag, briefcase, or even a professional backpack to carry your essentials. If you are traveling and need to bring your suitcase this is not an issue. You can leave any larger items with the admissions office during your interview stay.
With the prevalence of allergies and sensitivities, it’s best to leave any scent (perfume or cologne) at home!
Think about someone who has made a positive impression on you instantly. What qualities did he or she possess? Most likely, he was open, warm, and confident (but not overconfident). It is important to be poised, receptive (smile when you can to show this), and engaging. Be sure your body language conveys these elements, too. Make eye contact. Smile and be friendly. Be sure you have good posture; don’t ever slouch or cross your arms and be interested in everyone you meet. In other words, project a degree of professionalism that will distinguish you from your peers. Your nonverbal communication will not be consciously assessed, but every interviewer and person you meet will perceive you based on nonverbal cues. Be aware of your expressions, too. Leave any eye rolling or glaring judgmental looks at home. Be attentive throughout your interview day and keep your cell phone turned off and in your bag!
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