What to Wear

Q: My son has an interview at Out of State School next week, and I’m wondering what to tell him in terms of his attire. Does he need to wear a jacket and tie?

A: The short answer is no, I think. I usually tell students to keep a few things in mind when preparing for a campus-based interview:

1) The person interviewing you is likely to be someone who spends a fair amount of time looking at college students. It may not take all that much to make a positive first impression! 🙂

2) One of the most important goals of an interview from the interviewee’s perspective is comfort. The more comfortable you are, the more likely the interview is to go smoothly. If your son has previously only worn a tie and jacket maybe twice a year, donning those clothes for a college interview might give him cause to feel ill-at-ease during the interview.

3) By the same token, students should work to make sure that their choice of interview outfit evokes a spirit of “I really care about this school.” Students should wear something that would pass the “good impression” test… imagine that you’re going to visit an elderly and sharp-eyed aunt for the first time in several years. This should translate to no jeans, no untucked shirts or unbelted pants, no flip-flops (I don’t care how “cute” they are, girls!), no baseball caps, no plunging necklines or revealing shorts, and nothing overtly disheveled or wrinkled.

I understand that there are students out there who are so devoted to their sense of personal style that any suggestion of modifying their appearance for an interview is met with a combination of horror and outrage. To these students I say, “Make whatever choices you need to make, but be sure that they are ones that you’ll be able to look back on without a sense of regret.”


Posted on August 23, 2007, in interviewing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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