“Dress to impress”
“Dress for the job you want”
“Dress for success”
These are quotes we’ve all heard before and they’ll definitely be running through your mind the day before your interview. But what do they even mean?
We’ve all been there before. Whether it’s before that big date or that random family event your mum told you about 3 months ago, it always boils down to the same question: “What do I wear?” The age-old conundrum effectively revolves around how you want to portray yourself for the occasion. After all, your outfit is a representation of your personality and it’ll be the first thing the medical school interviewer will be able to judge you on. No pressure…
For many people, this is just unnecessary hassle at an already stressful time. However, it doesn’t need to be like this and it’s actually pretty easy, as long as you follow our pretty simple formula.
But why does it even matter? As mentioned earlier, your outfit will form the basis of the first impression the interviewer will make on you. It’s obviously not going to be the defining factor as to whether you get into medical school or not, but you certainly don’t want to start on the back foot.
Clothing is obviously an expression of your personality, so you may be tempted to display your vibrant personality with a fluorescent skirt or your botanical interests with a floral shirt. However, you have to remember what you’re applying for and consider one of the most important principles of medicine – professionalism. Of course, you’re not doctors yet, but the interviewers will want you to display the same qualities that are expected in the profession and you want to make them believe you. So if you’re talking about the importance of professionalism in the workplace while wearing ripped jeans and your 5-year-old Timberlands, they might not buy it.
1. The Guy’s Guide
“Clothes don’t make the man, but clothes have got many a man a good job” – Herbert Harold Vreeland
Dark coloured suit – navy or black
Light coloured shirt – preferably white or light blue
Dark brown/black leather shoes
For the men amongst you, it is best to follow the advice of legendary fashion icon Barney Stinson and “Suit up”. A well-fitted suit goes a long way to show your intentions. Nothing too flashy but remember it’s not a funeral (even if it might feel like it). Avoid large pin stripes and bright colours.
Simplicity is key to avoid colour clashes. A white or light blue shirt is always a good base to build upon – you can’t really go wrong. The tie must be plain, simple, yet effective. A single colour – nothing too bright or distracting. Make sure your shoes are clean and well-polished.
Remember that a nice suit only goes with a clean and well ironed shirt! And don’t forget to iron your shirt thinking that you will keep your jacket on anyway. If you are stressed, you might quickly get hot and feel better if you can take off your jacket.
You might think this is a pretty constrictive guide, but worry not - if you really feel burdened by the lack of creativity on show, you can go wild with your socks. Who knows, they might even find your bright pink flamingo socks endearing.
These are, however, suggestions but think about how you would feel in a suit and adapt accordingly if necessary. If a suit is too much for you, a clean and ironed shirt with a simple trouser – not a jean – will do.
2. Guy's Accessories
When considering the rest of the outfit, it is important to consider the practicality of what you’re taking with you. A watch is a good idea to check the time. It seems like an obvious thing to say, but by wearing a watch, you reduce the temptation to check your phone as much. Constantly looking at your phone – even if it is just to check the time – might give the wrong impression.
Avoid spraying too much of that infectious cologne you got for your birthday. You want to smell good, but you don’t want it to overpower and eventually distract your interviewer.
Lastly, make sure your hair is well groomed and not covering your face. Your interviewer will get annoyed if you’re constantly flicking your hair like Justin Bieber circa 2007.
3. The Girl’s Guide
“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today when human contacts are so quick” – Miuccia Prada
- Dark coloured suit – skirt or trousers
- Light coloured shirt or a top
- Dark, closed shoes
Similar to the men’s choice, the preferred option for the ladies is a suit. This can be a skirt suit or a trouser suit, whichever takes your fancy. Dark colours remain the order of the day, such as navy, black or grey.
A simple white or light coloured shirt comes next. Please, please, please avoid low cut tops at all costs. There is no need to overdo anything with the shirt so avoid flamboyant designs – simplicity is key!
For the shoes, make sure they are dark coloured, close-toe and low-heel. Wearing high heels all day will just be uncomfortable and you don’t need anything to distract you from the interview itself. Open-toe shoes are not professional enough for this environment.
Again if you don’t feel comfortable in a suit, a clean and ironed shirt with a nice skirt or simple dress will do.
4. Girl's Accessories
The first thing to address is hair. Once again, simplicity will go a long way. It’s not a wedding. You don’t need to book a salon appointment the day before your interview. Employ basic styles that ensure that your hair is out of your face.
Please do not go all out on the make-up either. Subtle colours only. Concealer and a touch of mascara may help you to look more alert. When using lipstick, gloss or eyeshadow, use neutral colours.
Jewellery is accepted as long as it isn’t distracting. Again, keep it basic, such as small stud earrings – avoid big dangling pieces that come anything close to resembling some kind of fortune teller. The same goes for necklaces – a small necklace is fine, but nothing flamboyant.
Following these simple guidelines should go a long way to calming your nerves the day before your big day. If it hasn’t been mentioned enough, there is one main message – keep it simple! Your personality will flow through your answers and general demeanour. After this, you will be 100% ready to tackle whatever comes your way! Read our other posts on how to prepare for your Medical School Interview and good luck all!