Dress for Success: What to Wear During your Residency Interview
How to Choose an Outfit for your Residency Interview
From the moment you walk into a residency program, your interview outfit can speak volumes to Program Directors and Interview Committees. For example, if you show up in wrinkled or unkempt clothing, you may come off as lazy, sloppy or that you don’t care about the interview. If you come in with a short dress and six-inch heels, programs may wonder if you thought this was a date– not a professional interview.
In order to make the best first impression, you want your clothing to tell the story of a full-fledged medical professional. Try to think about what you would be wearing on the job, without the white coat.
There can be several different types of events throughout the interview day including (but not limited to):
- A pre-interview dinner or gathering
- Some sort of breakfast
- The actual interview day
- A post-interview get together or drinks
To be prepared for any occasion, you will want to bring at least two types of clothes:
Business Casual – For social events such as a dinner or cocktails. This style is slightly more laid back (but still on the professional side). Men, you won’t need a tie, just slacks, and a nice button-up shirt. Ladies, you will want a nice blouse and nice slacks or an appropriate skirt. The key is to be a little more relaxed but still professional.
Business Formal – For the interview day. This is where many interviewees run into trouble or don’t know what to wear. Below is a list of more tips and guidelines for the interview day for men, women and both.
Tips for Business Formal Wear During the Residency Interview
Tips for Men:
- A suit is standard with a nice button up shirt and sensible tie
- Note: Wearing a flashy tie may seem like a good idea, but this can absolutely backfire
- Dark socks, shoes, and belt
- No jewelry beyond a wedding band
- No cologne or strong aftershave
- Clean shaven or very neatly trimmed facial hair
Tips for Women:
- Pantsuit or skirt suit
- For the skirt, be sure it falls below the knees (or the ends or your fingertips)
- Closed-toe and sensible shoes
- Makeup should be light and natural
- Avoid perfumes in general which could irritate an interviewer
- Jewelry should be minimal, simple, and classy
- No fancy nail polish, nails should be trimmed with clear polish at the most
- No extra exposure
- For example, cleavage, short skirts, tight clothes, or high heels
- If necessary, neutral pantyhose
- Purse should be chosen carefully
Tips for Both:
- Clothing should be tailored, well fitted, cleaned and ironed
- Go with dark or neutral with the colors. Nothing too showy or flashy.
- Examples: Black, brown, grey or navy
- Avoid any patterns as well, even stripes on a suit could send the wrong message
- Don’t forget hygiene such as brushing teeth and applying deodorant
- Hair should be neat and out of your face
- Absolutely NO visible tattoos or alternative piercings (face, multiple ear piercings, etc)
If you have ANY doubts if something you want to wear is professional, choose something else.
This is one circumstance where it is in your best interest to play it safe. Now is not a good time to be taking risks with your appearance. What some programs may consider interesting, others may take as a sign of immaturity. You do not want to lose out on an opportunity with an unfortunate wardrobe choice.
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