Our student, Alice, had her first alumni interview a few years ago with her dream school: Hamilton. She was the normal mixture of excited and nervous and the interview was to take place at a coffee shop near her house. She had done her research and prepared a few answers, so her mom took her to get a manicure and some piece of mind before the interview. At the nail salon, Alice selected her favorite color, bright blue, but her mother forbade her from getting it. Her mom said the color was unprofessional and would make the interviewer think Alice wasn’t a serious student or serious about Hamilton.
Now, we don’t often disagree with parents, but we disagreed with Alice’s mom. We’ve noticed one key thing about dressing for interviews: people get hung up on the wrong details. While it may not be a formal job interview, or even an interview on campus, your alumni interviewer may oftentimes be the only person throughout the admissions process who has actually seen and interacted with you. As such, it’s always good to consider all aspects of the interaction. Showing up for any sort of a meeting in too-casual or inappropriate clothing gives a bad impression, period. It says that you don’t really care. That being said, your clothing and accessories do tell a story: what you wear is a means of expressing yourself. You don’t want to dull yourself down because you’re afraid of standing out. Here are some guidelines that we always stick to when advising our students on what to wear to an alumni interview.
A clean, simple top or button down
A blazer or cardigan with a solid/striped tee or long sleeved tee underneath
A solid colored pant
A nice dress or skirt, preferably with tights
Dark or black jeans are OK
Athletic clothing (sweatshirts, sweatpants, athletic pants, spandex, leggings, hoodies). We understand that sometimes you might be coming from practice, but we strongly encourage you to re-think the timing of your interview so that you can have time to change
Loud, neon, or statement t-shirts. No need to make a statement. Let the quality of your interview be the boldest part of your interaction
Ripped pants, regardless of the color
Flashy accessories. No plastic bangles or huge earrings. Just steer clear.
A full suit
While we’d never judge, we’re just not the type to wear sweatpants to class, and that’s a good thing. Make it clear that you’re respectful, self-aware, and put together. Similar to your preparation, don’t overthink this. If you’re unsure if something is appropriate, the answer is probably no. If it’s borderline, play it safe. This is not the time to take new fashion risks. All that said, remember to be yourself. Express your personality through your clothing choices in a way that’s tasteful. After all, your blue nail polish might be the one thing that makes you stand out in the crowd. Let us know if you need any help.