Dressing for Interviews
After following the PA Forum (physicianassistantforum.com) for two decades, I can honestly say that one frequently asked question is, “Should I wear a suit to my interview?”
Maybe it’s because I’m old school, but I just don’t get this question. The cynical part of me wants to respond, “Well, everyone else will be wearing a suit to this professional interview, but you can probably wear jeans and pull it off!”
I know that most of you are not considering wearing jeans, but you may want to know if it’s okay to wear a sport coat and dress pants, or a grey suit versus a blue suit. Below I’m going to provide you with a complete list of what to wear to your PA school interview.
Remember, there are three components to the spoken message: the verbal component, the vocal component, and the visual component. The visual component counts for fifty-five percent of your message at your interview. When in doubt, dress up!
Remember that you are dressing for a professional interview and what you wear needs to be appropriate for the occasion. This means wearing a suit! It is not appropriate to “dress down” for your PA school interview, unless you want to give a negative impression as soon as you walk through the door. When in doubt, dress conservatively.
Wearing a “suit” means the whole package: a matching jacket and pants, dress shirt (preferably white,) tie, coordinating socks and dress shoes (shined.) A dark-colored suit with a light- colored tie is your best option.
You suit should be comfortable and fit you well so that you look and act your best. If your ten-year-old suit doesn’t fit well, invest in a new one.
Avoid loud colors and flashy ties.
Your clothing she be neat, clean, and freshly pressed. I recommend you keep your suit, tie, and shirt in the dry-cleaning package until the morning of your interview. Be sure to shower, shave, and wear deodorant the morning of your interview. Do not wear cologne or aftershave, and certainly do not smoke before your interview.
Make sure you have fresh breath. Brush your teeth before your interview, and don’t eat before the interview.
Your hair should be neat, clean, and conservative.
Shoes should be well-polished, in good condition, and the appropriate color to match your suit.
Be sure to shave before the interview. If you have a mustache or beard, it should be trimmed and neat looking.
Wear a suit with a skirt or pants.
Your suit should be comfortable and fit well.
Your suit should be simple and dark in color. Anything tight, bright, short, or sheer should absolutely be avoided. Interviewers notice everything, and if your skirt is too short it could work against you. If you have any doubts about the length of your skirt, it’s probably too short. Knee-length skirts are recommended. Very long skirts are also considered too trendy for an interview.
Wear a conservative blouse with your suit. Do not wear bright colors, animal prints, or anything lacy, sheer, or low-cut.
Make-up and nail polish should be understated and flattering; shades that are neutral to your skin tone are generally advisable. Avoid bright or unusual colors or very long nails.
Keep jewelry and hair accessories to a minimum, and stick to those that are not flashy, distracting, or shiny. Only one ring per hand.
Shoes should be conservative and low-healed. They should be in good shape, and well shined. Don’t wear shoes with an open toe or back; any shoes that you would wear on a date or to a club are probably inappropriate. A basic pump is flattering, versatile, and will stay in style forever.
Your hose should be neutral (matched to your skin tone.) Carry an extra pair of hose in case you rip the ones you have on.
Your clothes should be neat, clean, and freshly pressed.
Shower on the morning of your interview. Wear deodorant, but no perfume; your interviewer may be allergic.
Brush your teeth in the morning, and don’t eat, drink, or smoke afterward.
Your hair should be neat, clean, and conservatively styled. Banana clips, bright colored scrunchies or elastics, and cheerleader-type ponytails look out of place with a suit. You may consider wearing an updo, pull it back into a low ponytail, or wear a barrette. The idea is to look polished and professional, not to advertise what a creative genius your hairdresser is.
For more information on the PA school interview process, visit my website at andrewrodican.com
Andrew J. Rodican, PA-C