While they may not be quite as formal as a job interview, college interviews are a momentous part of the admissions process. You have given your all to your application, your essays, and the past four years of high school, so it would be a shame to waste all that effort just because your clothing made a not-so-wonderful first impression!
When preparing for a college interview, it is paramount to introduce yourself in neat, sensible attire that’s appropriate for the season and (most importantly) the type of college or program you’re applying to. If you are unsure, reach out to alumni from your high school, your college advisor, or a college admissions consultant for more specific guidelines or suggestions.
Here are some specific tips for dressing appropriately for a college interview.
One of the central dilemmas facing women is whether to wear pants, skirts, or a dress. The decision depends on the program you are applying for, the atmosphere on campus and, of course, the time of year! There is no correct answer, dress pants, a skirt, or a dress can all be appropriate interview attire.
During the summer, you may want to opt for a modest sundress or a looser-fitting skirt. In the fall or winter, dress pants or a straight or A-line skirt with stockings may be a more practical option. Don’t worry, admissions counselors don’t expect to see you in a formal business suit!
Whatever program you are applying to, whether you are working with a college athletic recruiting consultant or are going for a more pre-professional route, choose neutral colors (black, grey, brown) and ensure you feel comfortable and confident in what you are wearing!
The Top Half
For the top half, again stick with neutrals, pastels or cooler toned colors. During the summer, a modest tank top under a short-sleeved cardigan or light blazer is appropriate. In the winter, tuck a chic blouse or stylish sweater into a pair of dress pants or a skirt.
Your shirt or blouse is probably the first piece of clothing that your interviewer will notice, so it’s vital that it makes an optimal impression!
The top tip: only wear a pair of shoes that you feel entirely comfortable walking in! A college interview is nerve-racking enough as it is, so you wouldn’t want to be worried about falling over! That being said, you still want to maintain an aura of professionalism, so opt for a simple pair of pumps or ballet flats.
Black or taupe shoes are always the preferable choices — you don’t want your footwear to be distracting from your stellar resume!
For the most part, a briefcase won’t be necessary for a college interview. However, you will most likely require a purse for personal items, resumes, and any other pertinent interview information. Either match your purse to your shoes or stick with a black or neutral-colored bag.
Hopefully, your main takeaway from this piece is that you don’t want to wear anything that is too distracting. You want to ensure your interviewer is focused on what you are saying and your achievements, not on what is sparkling around your neck.
That being said, jewelry is always a lovely way to bring your personality to an outfit. Limit your accessories to a few small items whether it be a necklace and earrings, a bracelet, watch, or ring.
Other Beauty Essentials
Just like in most career jobs, clean nails (and preferably a manicure) are a surefire way of presenting yourself as put-together and organized. Whether or not you choose to have a manicure, just ensure that your nails are clean and trimmed. If you do decide to paint your nails, stick to a classic light or neutral color or a French manicure.
When it comes to hair and make-up, you’ll want to be as simple as possible. This is not the time to debut Sephora’s new sparkly eye-shadow or an extravagant new hat. Keep your hair pulled back off your face and tie back long hair if it often gets in the way. You don’t want to be playing with it during the interview, as this is a universal sign of feeling uncomfortable and nervous!
While this may seem like a lot of things to consider, the fact of the matter is that what you wear is the easiest part of the process! You have made it this far, now go and show those colleges what they are missing!
Brian Giroux is an experienced college admissions advisor and co-founder of Capital College Consulting. Brian is a Professional Member of the Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA). Brian has worked with students from over 30 countries to help provide guidance through the US admissions process.