After years of tedious study, you have finally made it to medical school interviews—the final stretch of the admissions process. And while the admissions committee is impressed enough by your personal statement, letters of recommendation, MCAT score, and your application in general to invite you to interview, this crucial step can make or break your entire application. First impressions matter—in fact, that’s what the interview process is all about, which is why your attire for medical school interviews is vital to get right.
Attire may be a small piece of the interview process, but if done poorly, it can leave a lasting bad impression. Interviewers want to see candidates who take this process seriously, and that means dressing professionally, respectfully, and sharply.
For a complete overview of common interview questions, preparation advice, and mistakes to avoid, read our Medical School Interview Guide. In this article, we offer specific guidance on how to dress to impress for your medical school interview.
The Medical School Interview Process
After taking the MCAT, submitting your primary application (including a personal statement, letters of recommendation, etc.,) and submitting your secondary applications, medical school interviews are the final step in the application process.
It’s important to note that the final deadline for applications and secondary materials is not the timeline you should follow. Apply as soon as applications open, as applying early is one of the most important medical school admission strategies.
For more information about ideal scheduling, read our Medical School Application Timeline Guide.
If you’re on top of your game and applying as early as possible, you may receive an interview invitation as soon as August, but most schools won’t send out invitations until September. Although they can begin as early as the summer, they will continue until the spring of the following year, ending in April or as late as May.
During this time, you will likely receive an email inviting you to interview at a particular program, and it will typically include a list of dates for you to choose from. Absolutely do not procrastinate on this—respond as quickly as possible, as your preferred interview dates may fill up fast.
Schedule your interview early in the process, as rolling admissions mean medical schools review applications as they are submitted on a continuous (rolling) basis. Therefore, offers are only made while spots are available. The longer you wait to schedule your interview, the worse your chances of acceptance.
Ideal Attire for Medical School Interviews
The first thing to know is your medical school interview is not the time to stand out—at least, not as far as your fashion is concerned. The only thing that should stand out about you on interview day is your winning personality and exceptional interview skills.
While you should not seek to stand out, you still need to dress to impress. This may seem paradoxical, but what it means is that you should look sharp without looking distracting. Demonstrate your personality with your respectful, knowledgeable, and friendly demeanor—not with flashy colors or eye-catching piercings.
While we offer specific guidance below, there are a few general tips to keep in mind no matter your gender.
- Clean up and wash the day of your interview
- Invest in a nice outfit
- Keep it simple and professional
- Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes
- Test your outfit before interview day
- Don’t wear anything too tight
- Don’t wear anything too flashy
- Keep accessories to a modest minimum
- Look sharp!
We take a closer look at suit colors to wear for medical school interviews, including how to properly pair your suit with an appropriate shirt, tie, and shoes in another guide—Suit Colors for Medical School Interviews—Options and Pairings.
Medical School Interview Women’s Attire
Dress comfortably and appropriately. Medical school interviews are already stressful; don’t allow an uncomfortably tight skirt or high heels to add to that stress. Many medical school interviews involve a lot of walking on interview day, including walking tours and moving to different stations during an MMI. Save your energy and patience for the interview itself by wearing clothing you feel comfortable moving around (and breathing) in.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing a skirt or dress, but ensure it’s not too distracting, such as a low cut top or short skirt. For these reasons, a pantsuit is likely your safest bet. You don’t have to worry about your legs being visible, and a button-up shirt will ensure you have full coverage up top. You must also wear closed-toe shoes. Whether they’re flats or heels, it’s imperative you feel comfortable walking in them. Wear the shoes in a bit before interview day to ensure you feel good walking around in them for many hours on end.
When it comes to accessories, again, the name of the game is simple. Don’t wear anything that dangles, such as large hooped earrings, and don’t wear anything clunky, such as large rings. Loud, clanging, or jingling bracelets can also cause distractions. Studs, watches, and small necklaces are all good choices, as they don’t distract from an outfit. Cover up any tattoos, and remove any facial piercings that will distract from your face.
Bring a simple purse or business bag with you to keep a folder with extra copies of your resume and to store any handouts that may be given out that day.
Don’t wear anything, including makeup, that you haven’t worn before. Test out your outfits before interview day to ensure they’re comfortable to move around in and will last throughout the day.
For more tips, read How Women Should Dress for Success on Medical School Interview Day.
Medical School Interview Men’s Attire
Dress comfortably and appropriately. An ill-fitting suit or shoes that are too tight are going to make it difficult to move around campus, which you will have ample time to do thanks to walking tours and moving to different stations during an MMI. Make sure you can move and breathe comfortably and easily.
Not wearing a suit isn’t an option, so invest in a nice one. Invest in two suits if you can afford it. One suit should run you at least several hundred dollars. And considering the massive cost of applying to and attending medical school, odds are you can find a little more room in your budget for a nice two-piece suit. That said, it’s much better to invest in one medium-to-high quality suit than multiple low-quality suits. Ensure the clerks at the store take your measurements and tailor the suit appropriately—a tailored suit is more important than an expensive one.
Color-wise, choose one of three neutral and widely-used colors: navy blue, charcoal black, or grey. Your pants must match your jacket. Stick to solid-colored dress shirts, like light blue, dark blue, or white. Make sure the color shirt you choose nicely contrasts with your suit.
Get everything dry cleaned before your interview and in between interview days. Iron your shirt and pants the morning of your interview.
You’ll need a tie, belt, shoes, socks, and a leather portfolio. The shade of your shoes must match your belt. Make sure you know how to properly tie a necktie or a bowtie. Go with colors that contrast well against the color of your suit and dress shirt. Avoid any bright colors, such as orange, yellow, pink, or bright red.
As far as your other accessories go, bring either a nice leather portfolio or suitcase to store extra resumes and collect any handouts. Consider wearing a watch, cufflinks, a tie bar, or pocket square. If your watch has a leather strap, match it to your belt and shoes. Pocket squares must complement both your shirt and tie, but they do not need to match exactly.
Conceal any tattoos or piercings, as these are seen as unprofessional. Shave before your interview, and get your haircut at least a week before to ensure you have time to get used to it and style it the way you like. Don’t use any product in your hair that you haven’t used before.
Overall, keep it clean, sharp, and professional.
For more tips, read How Men Should Dress for Success Medical School Interview Day.
Final Interview Attire Tips to Remember
While we covered a lot already, there are a few final reminders that will keep you looking sharp throughout the interview process.
- Test your complete outfit beforehand to ensure you are comfortable and can move around in it all day.
- Choose plain tones over flashy colors. Simple is best.
- Watch out for smells! Ensure you are clean and don’t smell bad, and at the same time, make sure you don’t smell strongly of cologne or perfume.
- Plan ahead. You should know how to tie a tie and use an iron before interview season begins. Make sure an iron is available wherever you are staying.
- Choose tailored suits over more expensive ones.
- Don’t wear heels or any uncomfortable shoes that may make it difficult to walk around campus.
- Take careful care transporting your clothing, especially if you need to travel long distances to get to the school you are interviewing at.
- Ask friends or mentors to give you an honest opinion about how your interview attire looks.
Medical School Interview Success
Mock interviews are the best way you can prepare for the medical school interview, especially when it comes to your attire. In addition to moving around in your outfit in general, it’s vital to understand how your attire could affect your performance. Can you breathe effectively under pressure? Will it wrinkle? How much will you sweat? A mock interview is the most effective way to test both your interview skills and your clothing choices.
Med School Insiders offers a course on How to Ace the Medical School Interview that provides thorough and thoughtful training to prepare you for the entire interview process. The course covers all of the details, from what precisely to pack to common pitfalls to how to address the most common questions.