Proper Dress for a Business School Interview

MBA Admissions Interview AttireAs an MBA admissions consultant I often have to take a step back with my clients. Over the years I have learned a lot from my clients and have come to realize that the definitions of proper interview dress or attire varies by region, country and even culture.

This is the deal, and I dissuade anyone from thinking anything to the contrary:

  1. Wear a dark colored suit (Grey, Black, Charcoal) with a white or light blue shirt.
  2. Wear a tie that has as little design or pattern in it at possible. Solid colored ties are good.
  3. Wear shoes that are polished with dark socks. By shoes I mean dress shoes with dark laces, not “comfort” shoes, timberlands or Uggs. By dark I mean dark blue or black.
  4. Do not wear anything that is tight-fitting or shows body parts excessively. This is an interview not a club.
  5. Cut the tags off your clothing. Nothing says Men’s Wearhouse $199 special than tags still sewn onto the sleeve of a jacket. Don’t laugh too much, I have seen this as an MBA admissions interviewer. It tells me the applicant is clueless at worst or knows a good sale when he sees one at best.
  6. Get a shave and a haircut……shower.

Photo courtesy of Anynonymoose, under a Creative Commons License.

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3 Responses

  1. How about cuff links? In NY they are considered acceptable, but in Los Angeles, people look at you as though you just stepped out of a time machine.

  2. Brian says:

    A couple of other suggestions:-Invest in a leather folio to hold your resume, collect business cards, etc.-Because many of your interviews will require you to take public transportation, and you'll want to spend time in cities like Boston, New York, and Chicago, carry a professional briefcase to hold things like your keys, cellphone, printed Google map, etc. Don't try and 'live out of your pockets', as it will likely take the professional fit out of your suit.-Turn off your cell phone. Seriously. And do so before you enter the waiting room; your interview should be the most important part of your day, and you don't want the interviewer to think otherwise.-If you plan to sweat (don't laugh), wear a white undershirt (without logos or slogans, which will be seen through your dress shirt), and consider keeping a thin, folded handkerchief or napkin in your pocket so that you can discretely dry your hand prior to an important handshake.-Maintain fresh breath, but be sure to dispose of any gum before entering the interview suite. Just like a first date, it doesn't matter what you say if the sounds are accompanied by a foul odor.

  3. Just Nick says:

    If you are wearing a suit you already own (and not running out and buying one for the event!) make sure you try it on again a few weeks before interview season. Nothing says "I don't do this very often" like showing up in a suit you bought three years (and twenty pounds — in either direction) ago for a friend's wedding. So leave yourself time to get it fitted or replaced. And clean the thing if it needs it!

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