The Woman’s Guide To Dress For Med School Interview Success

Be fully prepared for your interview

Aim for an outfit that is both professional and comfortable.

In a medical school interview, a first impression is often the only impression you get to make.  With just a handshake your aim is to come across as professional, confident, and trustworthy.  After all the hard work you have put in to your pre-med journey, this is your moment to shine as the outstanding applicant you are.  Follow these simple steps to not only make the best impression, but to feel confident on your interview day.

In an interview situation, it is important that your interviewer get a sense of who you are from you, not from your clothes.  Even if you are not trying to make a statement, your top knot and hoop earrings might be more memorable than your three years of research or volunteer work.  If your attire raises an eyebrow, your interviewer could spend the rest of the short interview distracted by your appearance and not get a sense of the true you.

To dress for success, we have broken down the interview outfit from head to toe. But first, let’s start with the key piece, the suit.

Suits – Business suits come in a myriad of colors and styles.  For a medical school interview, chose a classic cut in black, navy blue, or gray.  Skirt suits and pant suits are both acceptable, so pick whichever makes you feel most comfortable.  Make sure to remove all tags, stickers, and pins before your interview.  Cut the loose stitching inside pockets or along a skirt slit before you leave the house.  If you are wearing an older suit, get it professionally cleaned and steamed.  Don’t forget a quick run of the lint roller before you leave!

Shirts – Nothing low cut.  Go for a simple oxford button up, or a nice blouse that does not wrinkle too easily.  Stay away from loud patterns or colors.  Remember that the men will be wearing shirts and ties with their suits, so you want to look just as professional as they do.

Always, always, always tuck your shirt in.

Belts – For men, belts are a necessity.  But for women, you can take them or leave them.  If you have a nice belt you like to wear with your suit, go for it.  Otherwise, an unbelted look is fine.

Skirts – If you are going to wear a skirt suit, sit down and make sure the skirt does not ride up too high.  Do not wear a skirt that is too tight.  And, always wear panty hose.

Pants – Get your pants hemmed to fit the heels you wear most.  Make sure to iron your pants or have them pressed before you wear them.

Shoes – Closed toe, low heel is the way to go.  Too high a heel and you will be uncomfortable all day.  Open toe and you risk looking unprofessional.

Bag – A medium size purse that will fit your portfolio folder (with extra copies of your resume and application) and any papers or handouts you receive that day.

Makeup – Simple simple simple.  If you wear concealer or powder, go lightly.  A little blush looks nice.  Mascara helps you look awake.  Avoid heavy eyeliner.  If you want to use eye shadow, pick neutral colors and go lightly.  If you chose lipstick or lip-gloss, pick subtle colors.

Jewelry – Small stud earrings, nothing dangling.  Small chain necklaces or a single strand of pearls. It is okay to wear a necklace with a religious symbol like a cross, but make sure it is understated.  Bracelets can be distracting if they make noise when you move.  You will most likely be wearing long sleeves, so you probably don’t need a bracelet.

Hair – Make sure your hair is neat.  You can always stick a brush in your purse and run it through your hair a few times before your interview.   If you chose to wear it up in a pony, bun, or half-up, make sure it is secure and not falling out.  Keep your hair out of your face and try not to touch it during an interview.

If you follow this list of do’s and don’ts, you will surely be dressed for success.  

DON’T:

1. Don’t be trendy- you are not interviewing with Vogue and now is not the time to channel your inner fashionista.

2. Along the trendy lines, don’t try any fancy new hairstyles.  Keep it simply down, half up, or in a low bun or ponytail.  A simple headband can work as well.

3. Don’t wear anything with big logos.  It is distracting and labels you as much as it labels the clothing item.

4. Don’t wear open toe shoes.  You do not want your interviewer gazing down at your hot pink toe nail polish.  Keep it conservative and wear closed toed shoes.

– Another shoe tip: Aim for a 1-2 inch heel.  On some interviews, you will be doing a lot of walking and if you come in with 5 inch Louboutins, you will be left in the dust.

5. Don’t wear anything too short.  Practice sitting down if you opt to wear a skirt.  Aim for it to hit just above the knee when sitting.  If it is higher than that, skip it.

6. Don’t wear anything too low cut or revealing.  Practice bending over and make sure your shirt does not gape open.  What if you drop your pen?

7. Don’t be messy or sloppy (obviously).

DO:

1. Do wear clothes that fit.  Find a tailor you like and have them hem pants and sleeves.

2. Do keep your clothes wrinkle free.  If you are traveling, use the hotel iron or hang your clothes in the bathroom to stream when you take a shower.

3. Do wear pantyhose.  Especially if you wear a skirt.  Black tights are fine too.

4. Do wear makeup.  Studies have shown that a small amount of makeup makes you come across as more professional.  Just keep it neutral and simple.  No sparkles and no red lip.

5. Do wear simple jewelry.  Small stud earrings and small necklaces can compliment a professional look.  A single strand of pearls always looks classy.

After all that, what is the most important thing to wear to a medical school interview?  A smile.  A big smile and eye contact are more memorable than any fancy suit.  

InterviewingWithImpactRecording

Andrea Tooley, MD is a resident physician in Ophthalmology at Mayo Clinic.  She graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2014.  Andrea shares stories from her days in medical school and residency, healthy recipes, and workouts on her blog, AndreaTooley.com.  
Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

• The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success, a free guide
How to Ace Your Medical School Interview,  a free webinar
• The Men’s Guide to Dress for Medical School Success

What I Look for When I Interview a Candidate for Medical School

Click here for more medical school interview tips!

I get that you probably want to help people, but why?

Journeys with Joshua: Joshua Wienczkowski walks us through med school at East Tennessee’s College of Medicine with his monthly blog updates. Get an inside look into med school down South and life as a student adcom member through the eyes of a former professional songwriter with a whole lot of clinical experience — thanks Joshua for sharing this journey with us!  

This year, I’ve had the unique pleasure of interviewing prospective medical students, reviewing and scoring completed applications, voting on our Admissions Committee, and seeing several students’ dreams come true at my university. It’s such a surreal feeling sitting in the interviewer chair when just two and a half years ago, I was the one being interviewed. When I drove up the long and winding road to our campus to interview my first batch, I got the same sinking feeling and lump in my throat when I made that same drive to interview for a competitive spot to become a medical student. The trees that hug the road and guide the way through the heart of rolling acres were calming in that moment just as they were the first time I saw them. I wonder what’s going through their heads right now? Did they sleep at a hotel or have friends in town they stayed with? What kind of questions will they have for me? all rang through my head.

So what do I look for when I’m trying to decide who will fill 1 of our 72 chairs in a pile of over 2,000 incredibly qualified applications? What is my perception of an applicant as a current medical student? What makes me say yes, no, or fight for an underdog? What I’d like to do is walk you through my thought process from the time I arrive to do an initial review of a prospective student to the time we shake hands before going our separate ways, perhaps to meet again.

To preface, before I meet a candidate, they have gone through an extensive screening process, which our Admissions Committee does an incredible job of. By the time an individual meets me or another interviewer, several sets of eyes have seen their application, a secondary application has been written, and everything looks like it could be a great fit. I guess I might compare it to internet dating… Two people have represented themselves well on paper, look great in writing and in communication, but the first date is often the sink or swim.

I interview two people per interview day with one hour allotted for each interview in the afternoon. Their interview day begins long before this as they arrive early to learn more about our incredibly unique learning environment, our culture, and their potential home as they are guided by first year medical students, have lunch with third and fourth years, and spend time around our campus and hospitals. I’m usually in lecture during this time, and focused on being a second year medical student. After lunch, I head up early to review the applications of the people I’ll be interviewing. I cannot see scores or letters of recommendation, only the things people have written about themselves so I am not biased by extrinsic factors. My focus is solely on the person I’m reading about.

Here is where I meet you. We shake hands well before we actually shake hands. I’m often looking for red and green flags, which guide my talking points and goals for the interview. Did you have a TON of shadowing and patient contact in some form or another? Cool, I’m probably not going to ask you much about that. Have you only had 50-100 hours of shadowing and/or patient contact? I might be inclined to learn more about what experiences and exposure lead you to the decision to become a physician. I get that you probably want to help people, but why? One of the most common mistakes I see in applications and interviews is an effect without a cause. What I mean by this is that an intrinsic desire to become a physician without life experiences that shaped and lead you to that desire aren’t enough ground to stand on. On many occasions, I’ve finished reading everything an applicant has to say about themselves, sat in a room and talked for an hour, and I still don’t understand why they want to help people as a doctor other than they simply just do. Connect the dots for me. Show me that A + B lead to C, which exposed you to D, and ultimately lead you down a road with rhyme and reason for why you want to be an MD.

As I read, I’m also looking for interests outside of medicine. Are you an athlete, a musician, an avid stamp collector – what are you passionate about outside of medicine? Tell me these things, because it shows me you’re human, and not just a robot that can nail a 40 on the MCAT while publishing 16 papers and saving babies in the African desert. These qualities show me a level of diversity that can contribute to the culture of our medical school, and we take great pride in having lives outside of medicine. You like to hike? Fan-freaking-tastic, the Appalachian Trail is just up the road, and half of my class has gone to see the incredible landscapes at 6,500 feet. You play piano, guitar or paint as a hobby? Awesome, you’ll have something to keep your sanity, and a unique humanity to contribute to the culture of medicine in dire need of people like you. How do you define diversity, and what diverse qualities would you bring into your medical class? Show me this.

So, I’ve gathered my talking points, both green and red flags, and stand up to go meet you. Coffee and folder in one hand, the other outstretched, smile on my face, and I’m excited to find out more about you. First and foremost, look me right in the eye, and give me a strong handshake. Use my first name, and have some confidence.

At the beginning of the interview, I like to lay out my goals and intentions with our time together so you understand what we’re trying to accomplish. Interviews aren’t meant to weed you out, but to find out if my institution is the perfect fit for you, and you for us. All I ask is that you don’t blow smoke up my butt, and I’ll follow suit. I will answer any question as openly and honestly as I can, and I expect the exact same from you. If I ask about a weakness in your application, be open with me and tell me about what was going on in life when you maybe didn’t have time to shadow as much as you’d like because you just got married and wanted to spend time with your wonderful new husband or wife. That humility and honesty will go a lot further than making excuses, because I value family and always do my best to choose family over medicine. Don’t ever make excuses. Be honest. If I ask about your journey to getting in the seat across from me, I want to hear your story of what experiences, both good and bad, lead you to the decision to become a physician. What things shaped you? What life experiences will help ground you as a holistic physician that is always striving to be patient-centered? How do you respond under pressure, and what is your pressure release valve? Are you coachable? Can you pick yourself back up after failing at something? Are you someone I can see myself mentoring while I’m still a medical student here, and can I envision you as a classmate and colleague? What are your priorities in life?

During our entire interview, I’m trying to ascertain the answers to questions like these, because I want to represent you the best I can and respect the hard work it took you to meet me.

What I’m looking for when I interview a medical school applicant is someone who is personable, a strong leader, has great communication skills, will fit both the mission and culture of my university, has overcome some life obstacles, is dedicated and passionate, has emotional maturity and stability, and most importantly, can articulate the experiences and journeys that specifically lead them to the decision to help people as a physician. I go to the absolute best medical school in the country – for some people – and I want to find out if we both agree you are one of those people.

I wish you the best of luck, and feel free to reach out with questions.

Joshua A. Wienczkowski

MD Candidate, Quillen College of Medicine 2017

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success!

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy
Related Resources:

• Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Medical School Interviews, a free webinar
• Common Myths about Medical School Interviews
• Waitlisted! What Now?

Medical School Admissions 2015-2016: A Dean’s Perspective

It is ‘Medical School’ time of year.  Some of you are getting ready for the interview. Others are dealing with being waitlisted or rejected. And some of you are getting your applications ready to submit this summer for the first time. Now that MCAT 2015 is another and new ingredient in this volatile mix, we thought it was time to bring a medical school admissions expert, Jennifer Welch, to our podcast.

Jennifer Welch, currently the Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at SUNY Upstate Medical University, has been a medical school admissions director and dean for over twenty years.

Listen to the recording of our conversation as Dean Welch graciously shares her time and insights on medical school admissions 2015-2016.

00:04:07 – The New MCAT – a different focus.

00:05:35 – MCAT – are high scores still necessary for acceptance?

00:07:00 – New vs old MCAT scores, how to evaluate?

00:08:05 – The goal of the medical school interview.

00:09:25 – Interview day – time to make sure you are a good fit!

00:11:45 – Speaking with students on campus?  Chatting with a receptionist?  The “interview” isn’t over.

00:12:31 – Be real…feel real…in a suit.

00:13:47 – MMI Interviews – what is the SUNY Upstate’s approach?

00:17:00 – The student who did not get an interview and why. Suggestions so that you snag the med school interview invitation.

00:19:45 – Great GPA and MCAT but no clinicals – what are your chances?

00:21:35 – Details, details, details!

00:22:50 – How to make shadowing count.

00:26:59 – 2016 Applicants – get the applications in early!

00:28:26 – Took a gap year?  Explain. (It’s to your benefit).

00:29:24 – Reapplicants – what should your focus be?

00:30:15 – Think being a waitress or camp counselor wasn’t important?  Think again.

00:32:33 – Waitlisted – When is updated information helpful?

00:33:43 – Dean Welch gives advice for college students thinking of med school.

00:35:43 – Final pearl’s of wisdom for all applicants.

 

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!Relevant Links:

• SUNY Upstate Medical School Admissions
• 
Navigating the Med School Maze
• A Second Chance at Medical School: The A-Z of Applying to Postbac Programs
• Medical School Reapplicant Advice: 6 Tips for Success

Related Shows:

Getting Into Medical School: Advice from a Pro
Med School Conversation with Cyd Foote
All Things Postbac
MCAT Scores, MCAT Prep, and MCAT2015
MCAT Mania: How to Prepare
• 
A Window into the World and Life of Medical Scribes
 What You Need to Know About Post-bac Programs

Leave a Review for Admissions Straight Talk:

Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes! Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

medical school

*Theme music is courtesy of podcasthemes.com.

7 Must-Do’s After You Get Your Med School Interview Invite

Learn how to use medical school rankings to choose the best med school for YOU.

Exercise has been proven to increase mental acuity—this will help you stay sharp and focused on your goal!

Congratulations! You have been identified as one of the most promising applicants for medical school this application cycle. Follow these seven steps to ensure that you will ace your interview and receive an acceptance:

• Celebrate!

While you may be nervous about embarking on the next step in your journey, don’t forget to celebrate each small victory along the way.  Take some time to fully acknowledge all of the people and effort that have contributed to your success.  Share the good news and express your gratitude!  

•  Stay Active

To ensure that you will be in the most positive frame of mind, work out at least three times a week. Staying physically active will allow you to burn off all that nervous energy and help you to regain your focus while increasing your endorphins.  The closer it gets to the interview, work out more frequently but not to the point of injury.  Exercise has been proven to increase mental acuity—this will help you stay sharp and focused on your goal!

•  Review your AMCAS application

The most important thing you can do to prepare for an interview is to review your AMCAS application every day leading up to the interview as well as the secondary essays you submitted to the school. Reminding yourself of all of your experiences will make it easier for you to answer specific questions about them and to provide an overall timeline of what you have done to prepare for medical school.

•  Update your CV/Resume

Arriving at your interview with copies of your updated CV/Resume and reviewing it on the way will help you appear organized and focused.  If it’s a traditional interview, it may guide the direction of your conversation.  Use it as an opportunity to update the interviewer on what you have been doing since you submitted your application.

•  Research the School

Take some time to read the school’s website.  If you have friends or family attending the school, contact them to ask questions about what they do and don’t like about studying there.  You should prepare at least three questions for your interviewer(s) that demonstrate your knowledge of their curriculum, special programs and volunteer opportunities in the community.

•  Prepare with Mock Interviews

Whether it’s a traditional interview or a MMI (mini multiple interviews), mock interviews are the best way to prepare yourself for the actual interview day.   Running through all possible questions and scenarios can help you formulate the strategies that will earn you the most points!  Take the time to practice. Mocks will not only ease your mind but give you an edge!

•  Test Drive your Interview Outfit

While that suit or outfit may look fabulous on the hanger, you won’t know until you try it on whether the buttons are loose or if it would benefit from a visit to the tailor.  Wear the outfit you’re planning on using for the interview for a few hours and see it is comfortable and professional enough for the interview.  You don’t want to have any wardrobe malfunctions when you’re traveling and unable to find a replacement.  It wouldn’t hurt to bring a couple of back-up outfits, just in case.

Having helped students successfully prepare for medical school interviews for almost a decade, I hope that the tips that I have shared will lead to a wonderful experience and that you will be offered an acceptance.  Most importantly, be yourself.  And answer the questions honestly and thoughtfully.  Good luck!

Multiple Mini Interview Webinar

Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted.com advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs.

Related Resources:

The Ultimate Guide To Medical School Interview Success
Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression In Your Medical School Interviews
Common Myths About Medical School Interviews

Not So Secret Secrets to Nailing the Medical School Interview

More med school interview advice.

Sorry, there are no magic tricks to interviewing and getting accepted to med school.

Journeys with Joshua: Joshua Wienczkowski walks us through med school at East Tennessee’s College of Medicine with his monthly blog updates. Get an inside look into med school down South and life as a student adcom member through the eyes of a former professional songwriter with a whole lot of clinical experience — thanks Joshua for sharing this journey with us! 

Right now, every week, there are a slew of fresh faces coming to interview for a coveted spot at our medical school. They come mostly from Tennessee; many have done undergraduate work all over the country, had previous careers, and are very impressive on paper, but they all share one thing in common: a feeling expressed on their faces that hints at sheer excitement and terror mixed evenly. Interviewing for medical school is one of the most exciting things someone can do; the hours have been poured into taking classes, studying for the MCAT, writing the lengthy application, shadowing in hospitals, researching in labs, and often times neglecting personal life to become one of the few to don the white coat as a student doctor.

There are a few things that I feel should be said to students getting ready to interview for medical school. Just a year ago, I was in those nervous, excited shoes and suit, and I’m incredibly thankful for the mentors that guided me in the following ways:

1. Practice. Hours are spent practicing for the MCAT, why not practice for the one thing that could make or break an acceptance into one of the extremely competitive seats of a med school? Each undergraduate school has a career development center that is well versed in preparing students for professional interviews, both academically and industry-oriented. I always recommend setting up a practice interview with a career counselor, and gaining invaluable feedback on some personal quirks that aren’t always apparent to ourselves. A fault of mine is that I have unfaltering eye contact with a big, forward personality to match, and this is sometimes mistaken as aggressive and commanding to people. This was pointed out to me in a practice interview I scheduled, and I was guided on how to lighten up my intensity to let the more communicative, and expressive parts of me come across more clearly. A good way to practice answering interview questions and getting solid feedback is to work through Dr. Jessica Freedman’s, “The Medical School Interview” with friends and family. It’s a quick read and I found it helpful to hear my parents’ perspective with tidbits they thought would be important in telling my story while answering interview questions.

2. Read up! I’m baffled sometimes when I give a tour to interviewees, and some have very basic questions that are easily accessibly on our website. The ones I know have invested time into reading about our school already understand the mission of the school, and want to know more in-depth things like what the student life is like, what things there are to do in the area, how accessible and helpful faculty are, and they essentially are interviewing me to see if my little corner of the world is somewhere they can see themselves fitting well in. It’s absolutely ok, and I encourage interviewees to treat the interview day like a two-way interview. When I was in the hot seat, I asked so many questions about why my interviewers chose that school, why they like the area, and the pros and cons of that school. You’re the one that has to spend the next four years with your hands at the grindstone, so you should absolutely be invested in choosing a school that YOU see yourself at, not just one that offers you a seat. This is YOUR education, and I am a firm believer that you should take control and command of it, starting with the school you want!

3. Don’t try and impress anyone. What I mean by this is that everyone already knows about everything you’ve ever done, because those things should have been well articulated in your application and secondaries. When we invite students for an interview, we’ve already thoroughly screened them, scrutinized their credentials, and know they are qualified to succeed in the rigorous medical education. The interview isn’t to test academic prowess, but it’s so we can meet the person we’ve been reading about, are excited about, and see if we like each other. Come to your medical school interview prepared to show everyone the person you’ve written about in your application! We already know about your awards and what everyone else to say about you in your recommendation letters, and now we just want to spend some time and see if we’re a fit for you, and you for us. Be yourself. Be yourself. BE YOURSELF! Interview day is a lot of pressure, but it’s the most enjoyable and exciting part of this whole process, in my opinion.

Having just gone through the rigors of applying and getting accepted to medical school a year ago, all I can say is that you should be extremely proud of the obstacles you’ve overcome to reach this momentous achievement. There are no magic tricks or secrets to interviewing and getting accepted to medical school; however, being an honest person with the integrity that I hope you wrote about in your application, and showing that person to us as a medical school and student body is a fast-track to an instant acceptance. The people we end up accepting are the people that I want to spend the next four years with, through the good and the bad, and they with us. The person I’m willing to go out of the way for and write an email to the admissions committee is the person that would do the same for me, and is also someone I’d want to have a beer with next year. So, in your interview, show them that person.

Good luck!

Click here to download your complete copy of The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success!

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

Interviewing with Impact: How to Make an Impression in Your Medical School Interviews
Multiple Mini Interviews: Method or Madness?
Common Myths About Medical School Interviews