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Medical School Interviews - What to Wear?

Published on
May 13, 2024

“Clothes make the man” - so said Erasmus, a Pillar of Renaissance Philosophy and Scholarship.

While we at Fraser’s Interview suspect that Erasmus was not specifically concerned with medical admission interviews, his statement is still a source of anxiety for many interview candidates. After all, this is the final step! Just a few short questions and you may very well be on your way towards your dream career. But what you wear may not be as important as you may have been led to believe. And it is certainly not the case that an expensive pair of shoes or a tailored jacket will win you the favour of your interviewer. In this article, we will discuss the medical interview dress code, and by extension, what to wear to your dentistry interview.

We will aim to cover the principles which should guide your decisions as to what to wear to an MMI interview, as well as giving some more specific suggestions for your consideration. 

Medical School Interview Dress Code:

In the medical school community, there is an anecdotal story of an interview candidate that successfully passed the MMI and was offered a place at a prestigious Australian medical school, all while wearing thongs on his feet. While there is no empirical evidence that this is true, it is not an entirely unreasonable proposition. After all - is not reasonable to judge a candidate on the content of their interview answers, rather than on their fashion choices. When Erasmus said “clothes make the man” he certainly did not mean to say “the best person is the one wearing the most expensive jacket”.

Having said this, Fraser’s Interview does not necessarily advocate for such a choice in medical interview dress. We believe it is best to first consider the purpose of the medical school interview dress code. 

Traditionally, the med-interview outfit (both male and female) has been somewhat formal. Such a dress code usually involves darker colours and muted designs. This reflects the professional attire worn by medical staff in the hospital setting. When selecting your med school interview attire, consider what it is specifically that you are attempting to convey. You are not attempting to communicate a great fashion sense, nor are you trying to impress the interviewer with the price tag or brand selection. What you are trying to achieve, in fact, is that you are paying due respect to the interview process, and the medical institution.

In simple terms - the effort of tasteful dress is a sign of respect towards the interview panel. 

Having said this, the answer to the question of how to dress for a medical school interview should also address the issue of comfort. Ultimately, there are no criteria to assess physical appearance on the interviewers marking sheet. In fact, most GEMSAS interview stations are marked through a standardized, point-based rubric without any options for the interviewer to write their personal opinion and impression. This is why your responses to interview questions, as well as your confidence level and delivery style, will always matter infinitely more than your choice of jacket.

Bearing this in mind, you need to take stock of what makes you comfortable when making your attire selection for the medical school interview. Consider whichever outfit you choose, you will have to wear for at least for as long as the duration of the interview (as well as travel time prior to your interview). This means that particularly tight clothes, or clothes that do not maintain a comfortable body temperature, are likely to be impractical solutions. Returning to our anecdote of the gentleman who wore thongs to the interview - in the very least he was certainly extremely comfortable, and likely delivered his before the performance on the day of his admission assessment. 

Medical School Interview Attire – Men

Medical school interview attire for men is a rather straightforward ordeal. The reality of the situation is that a collared, long-sleeved shirt, as well as ironed trousers, is the standard and most advisable attire. The shirt should be of a light color, with contrasting darker pants. Common color choices for trousers are navy, black, grey, and dark brown. Make sure to also adhere to other principles of dress, including wearing a belt that matches the color of your shoes. Shoes should be cleaned and polished, and preferably of a dark brown, or black color. 

Beyond these basic principles there come questions of taste and preference. Ties and suit jackets are not necessary, however, you may opt to add these should you so desire. It is important to note however, that male junior medical staff tends not to wear suit jackets to the hospital.  Likewise, many institutions have transitioned away from ties as they may increase the risk of infection transmission between patients. 

Personal hygiene is also a critical aspect of personal presentation. Ensure that you appear well kept, with appropriate grooming and styling of hair. Jewellery should be kept to a minimum in line with standards of professionalism. Given the duration of the interview, deodorant is a necessity, however, strong perfumes and colognes are probably not advised.

Having said that, here's a detailed breakdown of tips you can keep in mind while invited to a medical interview:

5 Essential Tips For Your Medical Interview

Medical School Interview Attire - Female

The choices are significantly broader in the case of women than men who are invited for a medical interview. Regardless, the same principles of dress etiquette apply.  A basic combination of a button-up shirt or blouse can be comfortably paired with a skirt. Colour principles described in the previous paragraph still apply - you should avoid ostentatious patterns and opt for a darker skirt. Pants are certainly good alternatives, however, each item of your dress must be appropriately ironed. Unlike the case for men, belts are optional and should be worn contextually - that is, depending on your choice of outfit. Regardless of whether or not you opt to wear a belt,  a tucked-in shirt is fundamental.  

When it comes to shoes, there are two principles to follow - low heel, and closed-toe. The first piece of advice regarding the low heel is a question of practicality. There is a significant amount of movement involved in medical school interviews, especially in the MMI format. This means that comfort should be prioritized in order to avoid any distractions during each interview station. The issue of closed toes is simply that of professionalism. The medical environment is replete with biological hazards, therefore closed-toed shoes are a staple of the industry. In the interest of ‘looking the part,’ you should aim to emulate the dress practices of your supervising medical seniors. 

Finally, advice regarding jewellery, make-up, and hair, is meant to be neat and have minimal styling. The importance of this minimalism is that everything that you carry with you into the medical school interview should be understated, so as not to draw attention away from your responses. 

Rural Medical School Attire and Other Special Cases

The above advice is general and applies largely to the post-graduate, GEMSAS medical schools. It can certainly be extrapolated to apply to an interview in the medical field, however notably exceptions should be made. Many rural clinical schools, such as James Cook University, have historically fostered a more relaxed, perhaps even informal, attitude to medical education. This is not to say that candidates should overlook the advice written above, what we mean to draw your attention to is that you should always do your due diligence when it comes to medical school specifics. Prior to attending an interview, in the weeks prior to your scheduled MMI or panel interview, consider thoroughly researching the values of the institution to which you are applying. Fraser’s team almost certainly would have past and current medical students from this university who would be able to fill you in on the specific details of your preferred institution. This is also something to practice during your Fraser’s Mock Interviews, as well as a discussion to be had with your private interview tutor. 

What To Do Next?

Check out our comprehensive course that includes - interview workshops, a wide range of mock interviews and much more to help you succeed in your medical interview!