Your Appearance is Your First and Only Impression
The typical dress code for a medical school interview can be summarized in one word – SUIT. The most important thing to remember about the way you look is that there is a good bit of tradition involved with medical education. This is not the aspect you should use to express your individuality or ability be unique. Appearance is the one way in which the individual can easily stand out from the crowd – and not in a good way. The goal of your appearance should be to incite an impression of professionalism and to a great extent, to fit in.
The following outlines the safest way to ensure your appearance is not the aspect of your interview that gets you a rejection letter. Included are recommendations for males and females. These tips should help you provide the interviewer with an overall impression of professionalism.
What to Wear – Recommendations for Men and Women
Keep jewelry to an absolute minimum. A wristwatch and, at most, a ring on one finger should be plenty to complement your look. Try to avoid wearing multiple rings or large necklaces. These things can be very distracting.
You want to smell clean? Take a shower. Wearing perfume or cologne is a risky venture. Some people may be allergic to some of the ingredients in colognes and perfumes. Even if they are not, you don’t want to chance the interviewer hating the scent.
For either gender, you should avoid bringing a bag if at all possible. If you are unable to avoid it, try to bring nothing larger than a briefcase just large enough to hold a few documents. Apart from being distracting, you wouldn’t want to lug around a heavy nuisance if a campus tour is involved in the interview day.
Interview Attire – Recommendations for Men
Wear a suit.
Remember the one word -> SUIT. There is no loose definition for suiting. A suit is a single-color coat and pants that are made for one another. Generally speaking, there are 3 acceptable colors for suits you wear to an interview: grey, navy, and black. Light pin-stripes or patterns are fine, however, there shouldn’t be a great amount of contrast between the pattern and the suit color. Many premeds complain of the cost of appropriate suiting, however, there’s a way to do it on a budget. Borrow a suit from a friend, buy one from Goodwill, find the cheapest one you can find at retail. However you do it, remember, there’s no substitute. Don’t wear a suit jacket and dress pants. Don’t wear tuxedo jackets or pants. Your suit should be complemented by the blue or white long sleeve dress shirt you wear beneath it.
Wear a tie.
No, a tie is not optional. You have a small amount of flexibility when choosing a tie. For instance, a bow tie is gradually becoming more acceptable as business attire. Some may find the strategic use of subtle colors and patterns to be reasonable for a professional look. Just don’t go overboard – stay away from cartoon figures and obnoxious designs. However, the safest approach is to go with the “executive-look”. This typically means wear a red or blue tie and a white or blue oxford shirt.
Matching shoes and belt.
Yes, you must wear a belt. If you follow the above instructions regarding suit colors, there’s one answer for the color of your shoes and belt: black. That’s it. Your shoes should be dress shoes – i.e. loafers, etc. Ensure you give them a nice light coat of polish, especially if they’re not new. Your belt should be simple, leather, and should not have a gaudy buckle.
Get a haircut.
There’s no perfect length for men’s hair. Unfortunately, there are too many opinions on acceptable lengths when it comes to hair styles. The best thing to do is to play it safe- at least get it trimmed. People can easily tell if you’ve recently got your hair trimmed, and they can easily tell if you haven’t. Either way, getting a fresh haircut a day or two before your interview is a cheap and easy way to show you care about the interview.
Interview Attire – Recommendations for Women
Wear a suit.
If you happened to skip the section regarding men’s interview attire, take the time to read it. Why? Because female applicants are not exempt from the one word -> SUIT. Luckily, women are allotted a bit more freedom when it comes to business attire. Females have the option of wearing a suit with a skirt or with pants. The most common mistakes that females make in an interview generally include the misinterpretation of the word conservative.
Clothing that fits.
Your suit and, most importantly, your shirt should fit without being overly tight or loose. If appropriate, consider wearing a cami or tank beneath your blouse. More often than not, this will be the case. Especially if you choose to wear a white blouse with your suit. Cleavage should not be seen while seated or standing.
Closed toe shoes.
Everyone knows you love the cute little shoes you found for a great price. However, keep them put away for a different occasion. Your shoes should be closed toe, with a conservative heel. Stay away from “peep-toe” shoes, sandals, and flip-flops.
Make sure your hair is neat.
Again, the keyword here is conservative. Wearing your hair up or down generally makes no difference, as long as it’s neat. Don’t walk into an interview with a hair style that looks like you’re ready for prom.
Short, simple nails.
Stick with a solid color polish or the French manicure look. Your nails should not detract from the rest of your appearance. Make every attempt to keep them short, 1/4 inch beyond the end of the finger is a good rule of thumb.
Plain, conservative hosiery.
Choose neutral colors that complement your suit. Don’t wear trendy patterns or colors. If you have to be told that fishnets are a no, you may want to reconsider your profession.
A final look in the mirror
If you followed the instructions outlined in this article. You should at least have a good idea of what your interviewer expects. In the end, your appearance should incite the following responses:
There’s nothing more important than your first impression. Whether you like it or not, your appearance will be used as an initial indicator for your interviewer. Maintaining a professional look will give your interviewer the ability to focus on what you have to say rather than the way you look.