What to Wear to a Medicine Interview
The dress code is an important yet undervalued part of your medicine interview. It serves as a guide on how to present yourself in a way that admissions officers will deem confident and self-assured. Furthermore, being professionally dressed will also help you feel more focussed on the day, therefore setting you up for success before you’ve even stepped into the room.
Most universities will mention a dress code – usually, “smart” – in their rules and regulations prior to your interview. Whilst this will remain the same this year, many applicants’ attitudes may not. It’s easy to forgo fashion during an online interview. After all, they only see less than half your body and the focus is on your communication. However, this is far from the truth. Virtual interviews, like any other interview, require attendees to present themselves in a composed and formal manner. In a few years, you may be attending to patients via virtual consults but the expectation for professionalism remains the same as it would in a clinic – the same principle carries during your medicine interview.
Our guide will focus on what to wear for your medicine interview with a focus on how to dress appropriately for the camera, in light of this year’s online interviews. Whilst fashion can be removed from gender, we will be discussing various options in terms of women’s and men’s clothing – however, remaining true to yourself and expressing yourself as such is key and will only hold you in good stead during your interview.
For women, aim for a “smart casual” look, opting for longer dresses and skirts or pants whilst avoiding jeans and shorts. Feel free to add a blazer if that’s your style. Avoid jarring patterns or bright colors that may become a distraction. Instead, choose more neutral or toned down looks to keep their focus on your face and consequently, your words. If you choose to accessorize, keep makeup and jewellery minimal – again, we don’t want any unnecessary distractions. Avoiding bold clothing, jewellery and/or makeup is particularly important during a virtual interview as they may throw off the color balance and focus of your camera, thereby drawing attention away from your face. In a room with natural lighting, try to avoid stark whites as well as this too can cause abnormal contrasts due to a biased, white-centered focus.
In terms of hairstyles, don’t force yourself to fit a particular stereotype with how you wear your hair. Do what’s comfortable for you. However, I would strongly suggest keeping your hair out of your face as it may become a cause for irritation whilst conversing. If you have longer hair and choose to wear it down, keep a hair tie handy to tie it back in case you change your mind.
For men, many of the suggestions remain the same – avoid jeans, shorts, whites, polo shirts or t-shirts, funky patterns and bold accessories. Opt for a tie and blazer as opposed to the unbuttoned shirt look as the latter may come off as unprofessional. Ensure you’re well groomed prior to your interview. This includes shaving and/or grooming any facial hair to a professional standard as well as tending to your hair so it sits neatly and off your face.
Much of my recommendations apply to any applicant, irrespective of gender identity. One such key piece of advice is to dress as you would on placement at a hospital. If you’re confused as to what this may mean, choose to go smarter than to go more casual. Ensure your clothes are laundered and ironed and choose to wear a watch if you do not have access to any other time piece around your interview set-up.
Shoes are typically a point of contention during medicine interviews but I will remain brief about them due to their relative unimportance in a virtual interview – wear what makes you comfortable but keep in theme with the rest of your outfit to maintain the air of professionalism that comes with it.
In light of COVID-19 and the switch to online interviews, here are some additional tips focussing on how to dress for the camera.
- Contrast the color of your clothing to your background. For example, opting for a white shirt against a white background or large window will wash you out on camera and lead to bad video quality, possibly leaving a bad impression on the interviewers. As a simple rule of thumb, opt for darker tones against lighter background and vice-versa. For videography’s sake, you ideally shouldn’t be sitting in front of a window but if you are, opt for darker tones to trick the camera into focussing on you instead of the outdoors.
- Avoid distracting patterns, especially smaller ones as this can cause a perceived fuzziness on the other end of the call. Instead, choose simple and neutral clothing.
- Don’t forgo your outfit from the waist-down. While it may be tempting, resist the urge to play into all the memes about wearing pajama pants to zoom meetings. If you were to stand up or reach out, the interviewer may catch a glimpse of your lower half and sitting in your pjs will not bode well for you.
- Do a trial run with your outfit on prior to your interview. Video call a friend or family member dressed in your interview outfit from the location you plan to sit your interview from. Ask them to kindly assess how you come across on their screens with a focus on presenting yourself as quietly and effortlessly confident.
Choosing what to wear for your medicine interview can be a daunting experience for some and an afterthought for others but consider it an integral part of your preparation. Aim to dress in a way that showcases your personality and highlights your confidence. Most importantly, dress in a way that makes you feel comfortable and calm.
Finally, don’t feel pressured to spend a lot of money on presenting yourself a certain way for your interview. Even though there is nothing wrong in investing in your appearance, it’s important to remember that medical schools are increasingly focussing on diversity and accessibility – and that includes not discriminating against those who may not be able to splurge on a brand new interview-day outfit. Focus on professionalism and cleanliness over brand names. Focus on feeling confident because the rest will simply follow.
Lead Author & Medic Mind tutor