After the tests are scored, resumes printed, and applications submitted, interview day is the last—and potentially most—stressful part of getting to your school of choice. This is your chance to make a great first impression with the interview committee, and your appearance should mirror the image of a medical student; clean, professional, and detailed. Follow this simple guide to make sure you’re dressed for medical school success on interview day.
First, you need a black or dark colored suit that fits well. Keep in mind that your audience will most likely be older professionals with more conservative styles. This doesn’t mean you need to run to a tailor for a custom fitting, but you need something that’s going to fit better than raiding your dad’s closet. The shoulder of the suit should end at your shoulder. If your suit looks like it has Grandma’s shoulder pads, it’s too big. Second, make sure the top button of a two-button suit (middle button of a three-button suit) is higher than your belly-button. Finally, drop your arms to your sides; the sleeves should stop around the base of your thumb, and the body of the jacket should end around your knuckles or palms. Leave the suit pockets stitched closed to prevent sagging. Slacks are easier; they should be hemmed so that the back of the pant reaches somewhere around the heel of the shoe. Although pant length is a matter of personal preference, always make sure your pants never drag the ground or expose the tops of your shoes. If you need a suit, be sure to check your local consignment shops before spending a ton of money for a brand new suit.
No matter what you wear, make sure it’s clean, pressed, and lint free. Having your suit pressed by a professional makes you look sharp and keeps your suit in good condition. If you’re staying at a hotel, they may even offer this service in-house. When wearing a brand new shirt, iron out the folds, and make sure all the pins and stickers are removed. On interview morning, run a lint brush over your clothes, especially if you have hairy pets!
Picking your shirt and tie can be a tricky balance between standing out from the crowd and being the obnoxious peacock. Remember that your main goal is to convey a professional and confident image, so save your flashy shirts for a night out. Your shirt and tie need to match your suit, so always keep your suit color and pattern in mind. A white, light blue, or checkered pattern in a complementary color is usually a safe bet, but be sure to stick to more traditional patterns. Finally, pick out a tie that complements your suit and shirt. Leave your solar system and other novelty ties at home, and use a professional knot (not an Eldredge or Ellie knot). If you’re still wanting to express your personality, the best place to go wild is socks. Wearing a pair of fun socks that complement your suit is a great way to show a little bit of a fun side, while still looking professional.
To bring your look together, shoes should be well polished and your belt should match. Causal loafers or boat shoes are not appropriate, and you should never wear a brown shoe with a black suit, or vice-versa. A simple watch, pair of cuff-links, or lapel pin can refine the look, but stay away from anything gaudy or large. Be sure to schedule a haircut prior to your interview, and make sure your nails are well trimmed. Keep in mind your audience is probably conservative about dress, so be sure to remove any piercings and cover any tattoos prior to your interview.
Evan Kuhl is a PGY-2 emergency medicine resident at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Evan is interested in the intersection of sports and medicine, and is an avid cyclist. His website, www.evankuhl.com, includes helpful tips for premeds and current medical students.