Residency interview attire or suit for female candidates
There are a number of articles available online that give an idea about what female candidates wear on the interview trail. Although I used them as my source of inspiration, I wanted to share what I wore, as well as, how the other candidates were dressed, so that the readers can have a sense of how it really is out there.
First, the Suit: I wore a black pant suit that I bought from Macy’s (I saw the same suit available at Boscov’s for a slightly lower price):
Pants: From Macy’s
Blazer: From Macy’s
Shirt: I wore a white collared button down shirt, something like this (minus the necklace):
Black was the preferred color by most (about 70%) of the candidates. Others wore shades of grey and navy blue. About half of the ladies wore skirt suits. For the blouse, most wore whites or pastels, plain tops.
Advice: If you are buying a new suit, start searching for it earlier on. It takes time to find the perfect fit and design. Walk around and also sit in it to see whether you can comfortably wear it for long periods of time.
Shoes: I opted for low heeled pumps in black.
Advice: Again buy comfortable shoes. I kept a spare pair of ballet flats in my handbag. I changed into these for the hospital tours that required a lot of walking. The latter were more suitable as they were neither noisy nor prone to slipping as my pumps surprisingly were. I also needed to keep up with others in the tour so flats allowed me to walk faster.
Handbag and/or portfolio: I carried both.
Bag: From Boscov’s
In this I carried my extra pair of shoes, a small water bottle and a snack (some programs did not provide these so I was glad I kept them), an ID, credit card, some cash, car keys, cellphone, cosmetics, travel sized hair brush and lint remover (very useful as everything sticks on black in winters!). I kept my bag in the common area and did not take it along on the faculty meetings.
I did carry my portfolio for the interviews, something like this.
I had copies of my CV (never needed them during the interviews), some spare papers and a pen. Always carry a pen!
The other candidates also carried either a bag or a portfolio or both. Do whatever suits you.
Hair: For my interviews in the bigger university programs, I opted to hold my hair up in a bun. For smaller community type programs, I made a half up ponytail with a barrette.
I did not see any of the other ladies in a bun or an up-do, although I had thought that was necessary for an interview as it gave a polished look. Most had their hair open or held back with barrettes or bobby pins. As long as hair is not falling on your face, any neat look will work.
I met a couple of ladies on my interview trail who were wearing hijabs. These head covers were of neutral shades, like beige and off white, which contrasted well with their darker suits. Overall, they had a neat and finished look.
Jewelry: The rule is to not to wear something that is distracting to the interviewer. I wore simple silver studs and a plain silver band. I did not wear a watch as I found it to be restricting. The other ladies also wore minimalist jewelry.
Makeup: I do not wear a lot of makeup on a normal basis, however, I applied kajal and wore a neutral lip color for a finished look. Your final look should be natural and that is what I saw on all the other candidates well. Remember, don’t forget to wear a smile!
A little note on what I wore on my pre-interview dinners. I opted for a business casual look: formal pants with a sleeveless silk top and three-quarter sleeved cardigan. The other ladies wore knee-length skirts or dresses. As it was more casual than the interviews I was a little more liberal with regards to makeup and jewelry.
Final thoughts: Whatever you choose to wear, make sure that you are comfortable. I opted to dress conservatively, however, if I could change something, I would have worn a colored top. Bottom line – be you, look polished and professional.
Please ask questions if you have any!
Dr. Fatima Malik