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How Should I Dress for a Residency Interview?

Medical Residency Application & Interview Preparation Specialists

There are surprisingly detailed guides available online from various medical schools and residency programs on what is appropriate to wear to a residency interview. In general an applicant will feel much more at ease if they know that they have perfectly followed the correct dress code. The following is therefore a complete guide to exactly what to wear to a residency interview.

Suit

You must wear a suit. It should be dark – acceptable colours are black, navy blue, or charcoal. A light pinstripe is acceptable but you must avoid any ‘loud’ patterns. The suit should be tailored and single breasted. Avoid a double breasted suit.

Your shirt should be in a single solid colour. White is acceptable, and light blue is also a common choice. A navy suit with white shirt or light blue shirt is a good combination, or a charcoal suit with white shirt. Avoid bright colours or patterned shirts. Ensure that you wear a formal suit shirt, with no buttons on the collar.

A conservative blouse would also be acceptable for women.

Skirt or pant suits are acceptable, although if wearing a skirt suit ensure that it hits the knee cape ensure that you wear hose to accompany the skirt, in a dark colour.

Your belt should be chosen to match your shoes.

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Shoes

Lace up shoes (Oxfords) are most suitable and conservative. You may also wear loafers, assuming they are smart. Closed-toe pumps would be acceptable for women. Patent leather is the best option for material. Colour of shoes depends on the colour of the suit being worn. Black shoes must be worn with a black suit, whilst a navy suit would better suit dark brown shoes. Black shoes would also be worn with a charcoal suit, and a grey suit could be worn with black. Ensure that the shoes are comfortable and fit well, as they will likely be worn to multiple interviews, so you don’t want to be in discomfort whilst interviewing!

Ensure that your socks are navy blue or black – white socks are an absolute no-go, whilst fun socks are also unacceptable. A subtle pattern is acceptable. Your goal is not to stand out with your choice of socks, rather to stand out with your performance at interview and overall appearance.

Tie

Your tie must be the proper length and formally and correctly tied. A neutral coloured tie with a light pattern would be the most acceptable and conservative. Blue, navy blue, ochre etc would be acceptable, whilst power colours and fun ties are unacceptable. Avoid alma mater ties. Bow ties could be accepted, but are likely to make you stand out as ‘quirky’ which might not be ideal. Avoid pocket squares as they are likely to be seen as too dandyish, unless worn exceptionally carefully with a high quality tailored suit.

Hair

Hair should be clear of the eyes and neat. A pony tail is acceptable for women. Don’t over-style your hair, and ensure that you have it in a style that avoids you playing with it if anxious.

Facial hair is acceptable if neat, but better to be clean shaven.

Nails

Nail polish should not be darker than your suit. Neutral or nude nail polish is most sensible.

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Jewelry

Wearing a dress watch is acceptable. Apple watches are perhaps less so, although this is changing. Wedding rings are acceptable, signet rings might be depending on the size and ostentatiousness of the ring. Any other ring would be less acceptable. No necklace should be seen. Cufflinks are acceptable and should be high quality. A subtle tie clip may be worn.

Handbag

A handbag, if brought, should be professional, relatively small, and solid coloured in a neutral tone. Avoid ostentatious brands but ensure that it appears of good quality.

Makeup

Makeup should be conversative and professional. Try to appear relatively natural, rather than overtly ‘done-up.’ Avoid heavy eyeliner or eye shadow. Avoid statement lipstick.

Other Elements

Avoid very strong colognes, but do remember to wear antiperspirant. Ensure that all clothing is ironed and ready in good time. If there is a dinner or other gathering, wear business casual clothing (chinos, Ralph Lauren shirt would be the right level to aim for – safe, middle-of the road).

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