What To Wear To A Medical School Interview (& What To Avoid)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

What you wear to your medical school interview can have a massive impact on the first impression you make to your interviewer.

Even if they’re not trying to judge you on your appearance, it’s simply human nature to have our opinions shaped by what we see.

Your clothes and how you present yourself will be the first thing an interviewer notices about you- so you want them to immediately think to themselves “I could see this person as a doctor.”

It’s not that you can’t get an offer if you don’t look the part, but you’ll be fighting an uphill battle to change your interviewer’s mind.

In this article, I am going to guide you on what to wear to your medical school interview- and what you should aim to avoid!

What Should You Wear For A Medicine Interview?

Candidates should dress smartly for a medical school interview in order to portray a professional appearance. Male candidates generally either wear a suit or collared shirt and smart trousers. Female candidates have a few more options including smart dresses, skirts and blouses or jumpsuits.

If you have absolutely no idea what you should wear for your medicine interview you’re in luck:

Most universities will send an interview dress code to applicants.

This is because they understand that this may be a brand-new experience for you and that lots of applicants won’t have been to a professional interview before.

What To Wear To A Medical School Interview Pixel Infographic

Most dress code advice stresses wearing comfortable but smart clothes.

Oxford University mentions that no one is going to judge you solely based on your attire and that even the people interviewing you will be dressed comfortably!

I think the key is to be wearing something that looks professional, you’re comfortable in and you feel confident in.

An inbalance in any one of these three factors could adversely affect your interview performance.

In the next parts of the article, I’m going to take a deeper dive looking at specific attire for male vs female applicants.

What Should A Man Wear For A Medicine Interview?

Some masculine-presenting people opt for more formal attire for interviews, while others may go for smart casual instead.

Formal attire may consist of a full suit, while smart casual usually means a smart button-down shirt with trousers.

It’s always best to come slightly overdressed than underdressed and I’d definitely avoid wearing jeans.

I personally chose to wear a navy suit with a white shirt and dark tie for my interviews.

It was by no means pushing the boat out but I knew it was a safe bet that I couldn’t really go wrong with.

What Colour Suit Is Best For A Medical School Interview?

If you are about to go and buy a suit for your medicine interviews, you may be wondering what sort you should get.

If you want to be safe, I’d say neutral colours are best- grey, charcoal, or navy suits are always a safe bet. A neutral-coloured suit is also more versatile; you can re-use it in future for a variety of other events which will make it more cost-effective.

A common question is whether black suits are acceptable. The answer is yes! There are no hard rules here.

From a bit of research, there was no mention of specific suit colours to avoid.  Traditionally, however, black suits may be considered by some people to be very formal, and are normally worn at events such as funerals.

If you’ve only got a black suit and don’t want to buy another one- I’d say go for it. However, if you’re buying a suit specifically for your medical school interview then I’d go for another neutral colour.

It’s best to avoid highly patterned suits as they can be quite distracting to interviewers. More muted fabric patterns like herringbone are ideal as they are a bit more subtle.

One final point to note is that some modern fabrics can appear quite shiny- this isn’t necessarily a problem (and is only a minor thing) but if you’re aiming for a completely traditional look then I’d make sure your suit is more matte.

What If You Don’t Own A Suit?

If you are now panicking about the fact that you don’t own a suit, don’t worry! You can easily go the smart-casual route instead.

Cambridge University has advised past applicants that wearing a suit is in no way mandatory. You can just wear a smart, clean shirt with a pair of trousers.

One important piece of advice I will give you is to reach for a breathable cotton shirt. It’s natural to perspire a lot due to the stress you’ll be under on the day and this will help keep you cool. Comfort is key and big sweat marks are not a good look!

A young man trying on a suit for his medicine interview

Also, make sure to iron the shirt so that you’ll look neat and wrinkle-free for the interview.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a suit but do have a school uniform, lots of medical schools have explicitly said it’s absolutely fine to just wear your uniform.

Medical schools in no way want to discriminate against people who don’t own fancy clothes so as long as your uniform is clean and you appear well-presented it will be absolutely fine.

Should You Wear A Tie To A Medicine Interview?

When it comes to ties, you don’t have to wear one but a lot of people do choose to.

It could even boil down to how confident you are with your tie-knotting abilities!

If you have a tie, it is best to practise knotting it a few days before the interview. The goal is to have it look as tidy and as symmetrical as possible. For an easy and polished look, try a Kent knot which is relatively simple and straightforward.

However, if it is just too difficult to learn and you’d rather not wear a tie, that’s fine too.

A collared shirt with or without a suit is perfectly smart enough without a tie and can even mean you’ll be a bit more comfortable on interview day.

Some people might be keen to wear a bowtie- this isn’t a problem if you really want to, but there are people who might think it’s a bit eccentric!

What Shoes Should You Wear To A Medicine Interview?

When deciding on footwear, I’d say it’s best to reach for a pair of smart leather or pleather shoes for the interview.

Do make sure that your shoes are clean and polished prior to the interview. Black, brown, or burgundy shoes can all be good options.

Avoid getting brand-new shoes the day before the interview- you want to break them in first so that you can walk comfortably in them.

I’ll admit I made this exact mistake at one of my interviews!

I very clearly remember just the walk from the hotel I was staying at to the interview location was enough to start feeling the shoes rubbing on my heels. I couldn’t help but have this feeling nagging at the back of my mind the whole way round the MMI circuit.

Definitely stay away from trainers or flip-flops- they may be comfortable but will look out of place with the rest of your outfit.

To summarise, you’re probably on the right lines with any footwear that’s dark in colour and can be polished.

What Should A Woman Wear To A Medical School Interview?

Although I can’t say I have any experience in women’s fashion, I did enlist the help of a few friends (who are also doctors and female) to help write this advice!

They told me if you’re a feminine-presenting person, you have quite a few options.

You can wear a simple dress or a jumpsuit if you prefer wearing one-piece outfits. If you’re not a fan of the latter options, you can opt for a two-piece outfit consisting of a top paired with a skirt or a pair of trousers.

For your top, you can choose between a blouse or a button-down shirt. You can also wear a blazer with your top if you like.

You might also want to bring a small bag to keep essential items like your phone, documents, lip balm and a bottle of water. It’s a good idea to keep a cardigan on hand too in case it’s cold on the day!

Check out this article for a complete list of what you should bring to a medical school interview.

What Colours Can You Wear To A Medical School Interview?

Most people will choose muted colours for interviews, but you can wear what you’re comfortable with! You don’t have to stick with just pastel colours if you don’t want to.

If you want to play it safe, choose neutral colours like grey, black, white, or cream for your outfit. It will be easier to match these colours with a simple black skirt, for example.

A young lady sat in a medicine interview
A young lady in her medicine interview

What I will stress is that it’s best to avoid highly patterned clothes to minimise distractions for the interviewers.

You want your stand-out interview answers to stick in your interviewer’s mind, not your favourite bright orange top with dinosaur patterns.

Should You Wear High Heels?

Regarding high heels, interestingly my friends advised against wearing them unless you really want to.

If you are a person that loves wearing high heels all the time and can’t imagine life without them, go ahead!

However, if you are a lady who has no experience wearing high heels at all, it’s best to avoid them- you may just end up with a twisted ankle instead.

There are so many types of smart flat shoes to choose from you’re sure to be able to find something you like.

Whatever you choose, just remember to wear shoes that look smart and feel comfortable for you. Keep in mind that you might be doing a lot of walking on the day of the interview!

This could be to and from the interview location, around an interview circuit and perhaps a walk round the campus to see what you think of the university.

In a similar vein to men, you’ll generally be safe with dark-coloured footwear that is relatively simple.

Should You Wear Jewellery To A Medicine Interview?

If you’d like to wear some jewellery, it’s best to stick with simple, understated pieces.

A small pair of earrings and a plain necklace should suffice. Avoid clunky pieces that are noisy and cumbersome as they may distract both you and the interviewers.

If you are planning on wearing jewellery, pieces that are relatively smart and simple can complement the rest of your outfit nicely.

Wearing a watch is also a good idea- it will help you keep track of the time without having to refer to your phone (which can look unprofessional).

Just be aware that universities can have different policies regarding smartwatches, so it may be worth double-checking what type of watch you’re allowed at your interview before you turn up on the day.

What Should I Do With My Hair?

If you have long hair, it’s best to keep it out of the way by tying it up away from your face. You can do this by wearing it in a bun or a ponytail. Avoid tying it too tightly, however, as this may cause headaches, and use simple hair accessories.

If you have short hair, it might be a good idea to get your usual haircut a week or two before the interview. This allows some time for the haircut to settle in.

Whatever you do, don’t get a haircut the day before the interview! If anything goes wrong during the haircut, you might not feel your best on the interview day itself.

I think it’s fair to say this particular advice applies equally to both men and women!

What Not To Wear To A Medical School Interview

So, I’ve told you all the things you should wear, let’s now have a look at things to avoid.

Top of the list would be to avoid any clothing that may seem overly casual- this includes shorts, T-shirts, jeans, ill-fitting clothes, wrinkled shirts, and flip-flops.

A medical school interview is a formal affair. Although they’re not designed to be elitist, there are dress codes at play that you don’t want to fall foul of.

Being overdressed is always better than being underdressed. Appearing too casual will simply signal to the interviewers that you’re not really taking the process seriously- so why should they seriously consider you for an offer?

You should also avoid clothes that are uncomfortable to wear.

If you’re going to be wearing a new outfit for your interview, I’d try it out a week before your interview.

A smartly dressed young man putting on a tie
A young man trying on a new suit

Spend a day in it to check everything fits as it should and if it doesn’t you’ve got a week to get any replacement items you need.

Check that you can move around freely in it and not be distracted by any flaws within the outfit. For example, clothing labels can occasionally scratch and irritate your skin- you’ll want to remove these if this is the case.

Finally, I’d avoid anything that you don’t feel confident in.

A huge part of your interview performance comes down to your mindset. So on the day you want to be feeling ready to absolutely nail any tricky questions that come your way.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about a new pair of trousers that might be slightly too short, you’re not going to be in this winning mindset.

What To Wear For Virtual Medicine Interviews

There are universities that may request a virtual interview with you. How do you dress for these?

The simple rule is to follow the advice I’ve already set out for you so far.

Avoid the temptation to dress smartly on top, but then wear pyjama bottoms as you think they won’t see this on camera. This is very risky as you may need to stand up to get something and the cat will be out of the bag then!

Bristol University also stresses that it’s best to avoid clothes with patterns on them as it can make it difficult for them to see you properly on the screen.

On the other hand, avoid wearing clothes that will make you disappear into the background. Wear something that will contrast with the wall behind you. For example, wearing a white shirt with a white background might make it look like you’re a floating head on screen!

If you wear glasses and choose to wear them for the interview, make sure to test your set-up beforehand- check that your lighting does not cause any glare.

A sure-fire way to check your on-camera appearance is to set everything up as you would for your interview and then make a short recording of yourself answering a sample question.

You might be surprised how different it is analysing a recording of yourself compared to just looking at a live feed of yourself through your webcam.

Why Do First Impressions Count?

After all this advice, you might be asking yourself: why does what I wear matter? Surely, I should be assessed based on my capabilities, not my looks.

While this may be true to a certain extent, we can’t escape from the power of first impressions. Non-verbal cues are so important in how we, as humans, interact with each other.

This study showed that scores for first impressions positively correlated with applicants’ overall multiple-mini interview scores.

Being smartly dressed can also boost your confidence during the interview. It shows that you are taking the interview seriously and that you’re well-prepared.

It’s also important to maintain relaxed, positive body language in an interview- wearing clothes you’re comfortable in will subconsciously help you in achieving this.

Final Thoughts

For many of you, I totally get that this can be a very stressful time. You might be used to dressing a certain way and are worried about wearing the wrong clothes for your interview.

If this is the case, you can always reach out to the medical school admissions team and ask about their specific university’s interview dress code if they haven’t already sent one.

Family members, teachers and other adults in your life can also be a reassuring source of information if you’re still worried. Wear your planned outfit and ask them for their honest feedback.

Just make sure that you plan what you’re going to wear in advance so that you’re not stressing out over it the morning of your interview. That way, you can focus on practising medicine interview questions and hopefully ace them on the day!

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.