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What to wear for Grad School Interviews

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

You're already feeling a lot of stress about graduate school interviews. You submitted the application, you finally heard back, you accepted an interview, and now it's time to pack up and go! But wait - what are you supposed to pack?

Most guides will tell you to "wear business casual!" - okay, this is actually correct, but what does 'business casual' look like? Turns out, this is pretty tricky, because every culture, geographic location, and even department will have its own opinions of what they find 'professional enough.'

Some people might say "whatever makes you feel confident and professional!" - I hope this is true, someday, but both sexism and other hiring biases are real concerns for interviewees.

MY OPINION: Make sure your appearance isn’t the main thing they remember.

Here are my own guidelines for grad school interview wear. Let me know how you feel in the comments!

1) Consider the weather and amount of walking 🌦️ At the very least, you don’t want to end up limping around in uncomfortable shoes, shivering without a coat, or sweating through everything because you dressed for Iowa weather for a Florida interview.

2) Wear layers 🧥 You can quickly change your look for the event and weather with layers of different levels of “fancy” - if you are wearing a button-up shirt, you can wear a comfortable sweater if you think it might be a more casual event OR you can wear a blazer/jacket if it might be more business-y.

3) Avoid blue jeans 👖 I HATE that this is a thing, but it is. You'll likely be interviewed by people who were taught jeans were never professional. Black jeans are more acceptable, as are corduroy pants or any type of slacks. Skirts and dresses are good, and aim for at least close to or below the knee.

4) Make sure you can carry everything 🎒 You will be moving from place to place and shaking hands. I don’t usually carry a purse, but I did get a messenger-style bag for these meetings. A small backpack works, or even a coat with plenty of pockets.

5) Ask someone at the university! 📃 It’s a great idea to reach out to students in the department you are targeting to ask questions anyway, and you can include “what do people wear to the interviews?” as one.

6) Be confident 🤗 At the end of the day, walk proudly and own what you’re wearing. You deserve to be there, and they are lucky you're considering joining. And honestly, nobody cares how you look nearly as much as you do. - Psst: here are some great tips about how to look and feel more confident!

Anybody else out there interviewing? 💜S

*Originally published by @SusannaLHarris on Instagram

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