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How to Dress for Success on Your Interview



How to Dress for Success on Your Interview

Everyone always asks me why as a physician assistant I don’t wear scrubs. Mostly it is because I work in an outpatient setting where the physicians are in business professional attire, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t love to shop or have a slight shoe obsession.  When I get dressed for work, an interview, or night out, I know that when I look good, I feel good. It gives me that little boost of confidence I need to feel comfortable in any situation.

Interviewing for school or for a job can be very overwhelming and anxiety producing, so the last thing you want to feel is uncomfortable in your clothes.  You are already stressing about what types of questions you will have to answer or maybe even how you measure up to other candidates. The best way to conquer your nerves and be as prepared as possible, is to practice with mock interviews and make sure you are dressed for success. I always ask my mock interview clients to show me what they plan to wear so we can make sure it i perfect for them. So here are my tips to help you pick the right look for you.

  • The Suit.  The so-called power suit is my go to recommendation for any interview.  It is clean, professional and you can add a little personality to it. I have had clients during mock interviews ask me what type of suit or which kind is best. My answer, whatever you are comfortable in. A pantsuit is typically most comfortable for women, but if you are someone who prefers a skirt, that is a great option, just be certain it is knee length or slightly below. Ensure your suit fits well, it is not too big or too small and the length at the wrist/heels is perfect. You certainly do not want to be tripping on your pants or rolling your sleeves up the whole time.  Make sure you take the time to try on the suit particularly if you purchase it online and have it tailored if necessary. Most importantly, like the way you look and feel in it. Is the fabric comfortable, does it pull on any areas or wrinkle in a particular spot. You want to be able to look in the mirror and say damn..I look badass. Here is a classic suit from Theory for an example. This is at a higher price point, so we will talk more about cost below.
  • The Color.  Black is classic, timeless and always my go to. You can add very little and go a long way in terms of adding a bit more style to a black suit.  However, other colors such as navy blue, gray, or even one with a subtle pattern can be perfectly acceptable and might differentiate you a little more from the crowd.  For example, this suit from Express is a nice dark navy blue, but they added as striped shirt for a little flair. Still professional and clean, just not black.
  • The Shirt. Many people think a plain blue or white shirt is the way to go, and of course, those are always great choices.  But I feel like the shirt is a place where you can add a touch of color or pattern to show a little of your personality. During a mock interview, I like when clients ask me which shirt to wear. Almost always its a solid versus a pattern. Now, let’s not get crazy and pick anything that you have to wear sunglasses to look at, but a small stripe or even a solid light pink are good options.  For men, if you want to keep a basic white or blue shirt, you can add a little something extra with your tie.
  • The Dress.  A great alternative to a traditional pantsuit is a dress with suit jacket layered on top. I love this look but I am bias. I love dresses because for me it is way easier to purchase just one dress instead of pants and a shirt. The most important thing about a dress is the length and the hosiery.  The dress should be knee length or below and while running to the drugstore to buy a pair of hose seems like an easy thing to do, I suggest taking it up a notch. Investing in a nice pair of hose was the best thing I have ever done. I had no idea they could be so comfortable and not overly prone to runs.  My favorite are spanx sheers. They not only smooth out all the bumps with the compression at the waist, they are beyond comfortable. I have had mine for years without a run and they only cost $28. With that being said, you should always carry a back-up pair of hose in your bag on interview day just in case!
  • The Shoes.  I know many of you ladies may not like this, but try to wear a heel. Something comfortable and not too high. You definitely do not want to show up in a 5 inch heel to an interview and for the love of god do not wear anything that looks like a clog (yes I was asked this in a mock interview). A kitten heel or wedge can be a great comfortable choice.  Be sure you wear the shoes for days prior to the interview so you are not battling blisters the day of. The Cole Haan Vesta Pumps are my top choice for work heels because of their classic style!
  • The Accessories.  Keep it simple. No chandelier or tassel earrings even though if you follow me on IG you know how much I love my tassels! No statement necklaces or bangle bracelets.  Understated is better in an interview situation. Posts or small hoops are always a clean professional option. As far as piercings other than your ears are concerned, if you can, remove them, particularly if it is a bull ring in your nose.  If you cannot, make them as subtle as you can.
  • The Cost. How much do you have to spend on a suit? It is really more about what you can budget.  A higher end suit will last you forever, but you certainly do not have to break the bank getting one.  Some of my favorite stores for suiting are Banana Republic, JCrew, Ann Taylor and Theory. You can find often find inexpensive and sale versions at Banana Republic Factory, JCrew Mercantile and Express so be sure to look there first.  

Always remember that whatever you choose… be comfortable, be professional and most of all, be YOU. That is best look you will ever wear and will shine through in your interview.  Good luck!

Empowering Physician Assistants

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