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What Outfit To Wear To Your Residency Interview

Consider this your first professional job interview and dress accordingly. By “looking the part,” you demonstrate respect for the process, the profession and for the people who are taking time from their day to interview you. If you will be attending a “night before” dinner or gathering, bring two outfits: one that is business casual for the evening event, and another more professional outfit for the interview day itself.

General Advice

Even if it is subconscious, your residency interviewer makes a judgment about you within the first five to 10 minutes of your interview.  An initial positive impression causes a “halo effect” and will affect everything you say in a good way. Similarly, an initial negative impression will cast a shadow, making it tough to redeem yourself. Making a good first impression is based on what you wear is important.

Consider this your first professional job interview and dress accordingly. By “looking the part,” you demonstrate respect for the process, the profession and for the people who are taking time from their day to interview you. This means dressing neatly, being well groomed, and wearing clothes that fit well. If you are overdue for a haircut, be sure to fit that in to your schedule before interviews. While it is great to wear something that demonstrates your personal style and individuality, try to stay away from anything that is too flashy or outlandish. Above all, I encourage students to be comfortable; while you can’t wear your sweatpants, the more comfortable you are, the more confident you will be.

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Business Casual

Many programs have a dinner or happy hour the night before your interview day. These events are generally recruitment efforts and are usually attended by current residents and applicants. You should dress in “business casual” attire. Do not dress as though you are going to a party or for a night on the town. Do not wear jeans, baseball caps, t-shirts, shorts, or sneakers to these events.

For Women

Business casual outfits for women include any of the following:

  1. Sweater or blouse on top
  2. Dress slacks or skirt on bottom
  3. Low heels, flats or boots

For Men

Business casual outfits for men include the following:

  1. Sweater, polo, or button down on top
  2. Khakis or other casual slacks on bottom
  3. Casual dress shoes

Women

For your interview day, a suit, whether a skirt suit or pant suit, with low heels is the most common residency outfit. 

Suits

Most applicants wear a suit weather a pant or skirt suit with a button down blouse. However, it is also possible to wear separates that match which might include a skirt/suit, with a blouse and blazer or jacket.

Coat

Wear whatever coat you need for the weather! Since many interviews are in the winter months, a heavy coat in some parts of the country will be necessary. A dress coat, for this reason, is not always possible or necessary. 

Skirt or Pants?

Women can wear pants or skirts and this is a personal choice. The color does not matter as long as the look is professional. Wear what you are most comfortable in especially since you will be walking a lot during interview day.

Shoes

Since you will be walking a lot during your interview day, be sure to wear comfortable, yet professional shoes or boots that aren’t too noisy when you walk. A low heal, closed-toe shoe or boot is considered most professional. It is ideal to stay away from sandals.

Jewelry

Wear conservative jewelry that doesn’t make “noise” if hitting a desk or chair rail.

Purse/Bag

It is fine to bring a purse, but don’t carry your life’s possessions with you; smaller is better. 

Makeup & Perfume

Most physicians do not wear perfume since patients may have allergies, so it is best to leave scent at home. When it comes to makeup, I typically suggest that applicants wear what is most comfortable,. At the most, professional makeup is best which usually includes foundation, concealer, mascara, eye liner, blush, and lip gloss/stick.

Men

The most common residency interview day outfits for men include formal suits with a well-coordinated tie, matching socks and dress shoes. 

Suit

For men, it is best to wear a dark suit, but colorful ties are welcome! Remember, you want to “look the part” of a doctor to the best of your ability and a conservative approach is often the safest.

Coat

The coat you choose to wear should “match” the weather outside! If it is raining, wear a rain coat (and bring an umbrella). By the same token, if it’s cold, a winter coat is a smart choice. It is not necessary to wear a dress coat.

Shirt/Tie

A button down shirt with a collar that goes well with your suit is the best choice. Choose a contrasting tie or one that is well coordinated with your outfit. If you wear bowties, that is a fine choice as well.

Pants

Always wear dress slacks. If you don’t have a formal suit, choose pants that closely match your jacket.

Shoes

Since you will be walking a lot, wear dress shoes that are comfortable. Your socks should match your shoes.

Cologne

It is always best to leave cologne at home since many people have allergies or sensitivities.

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