Interview Question: Suit vs. Blazer

Hi everyone - just a quick little question.
I’ve noticed that many of us have either had or will have interviews coming up, and I was wondering whether to buy a suit or a blazer for the interview. What do you all think? Arnold was wearing a blazer this past weekend… biggrin.gif

I think most people will say to be conventional and show up in a nice suit - but don't feel it must be dull. Something you'd appreciate seeing a fellow professional wearing, not a funeral director.
Some how blazer and slacks still don't put together the same professional picture as a suit - but if you have a preference for that, don't let me hold you back.

Coming from an area (northeast) where the traditional suit is a pair of khaki's , a navy blazer and a striped tie i would definitely recommend a suit too. Even if you do gray flannel slacks with a blazer i think it is too casual. The whole blazer things reminds me of the yacht club set. It is also how my son, husband and all the groomsmen are dressing for a wedding on cape cod this weekend. A nice suit with a good shirt (make sure your shoes match) is a good idea.
good luck.

Hi, there.
When I was interviewing for med school, one of the admissions directors advised me to “Remember that you are applying to a professional school and so everything you do in the process needs to be and appear professional.” More or less in those words, anyway. Some people who were amazing in their credentials were able to get away with something slightly less formal, but I wasn’t willing to take chances, so I went conservative.
Good luck with your interviews,
Kim cool.gif

What IS really appropriate for women for those of you that have interviewed? Is a pantsuit acceptable? I do mean a professional suit. Or does it have to be a suit with a skirt? I'm looking (as a large woman) to look professional AND be comfortable, and a skirt is NOT! Any suggestions?

A pantsuit is totally appropriate that is all I am wearing. I have seen ladies with too sexy outfits, ladies with no suits, ladies with quilted bags!, the whole gamut. Sooo, a pantsuit with a nice (does not have to be expensive) briefcase, or one of those over the shoulder slim purses, is a must, oh and make sure that the shoes match the outfit…I am sure that you all will look very sharp. But yeah for the men please do not do the blazer waaay too casual IMHO, and the suits look sharper and they look professional.

Professional is the hallmark of your search for an outfit. AND, professional does NOT have to equal dull or morbid (all of those damned mortician-styled black suits with white shirt and boring-assed tie – power-color my butt). Mine was charcoal with fine, faint pinstripes with which I coordinated boldly colored shirts & ties. With my personality, to have dressed as described above would have been an obvious facade…so, I dressed professionally, but commensurate with who I am. I look at it this way, I want a program to want me for who I really am…not some idealistic image I have attempted to portray. Furthermore, if the program does not feel that the “true me” is a good fit - it is far more likely that I would end up unhappy there anyhow.
So, dress professionally & in the style of “you”.

Kathy - just reinforcing efex’s post - pant suits are absolutely fine. I’d say about half the women wear them (and I did - I hate skirts!).
And divejeep - I’d go with a suit. Heck, if even OMD is telling you to wear a suit, you know it’s a must. smile.gif

I have found that the Preston & York suits (I find them at Dillard’s) are well-made and very well tailored for the larger-than-size-10-and-up woman. I’m not sure up to what size they go. You can usually get slacks with matching jacket for easily under $200 and I can often find them on sale for as much as half off.
You can accessorize with brooches and colored blouses. Be careful with jewelry and make up…too little is better than too much. Also, remember that skirts that are shorter than calf-length run the risk of riding too far up the knee or above while you are sitting through an interview…not usually a good thing.
Good luck to all,
Kim cool.gif

What I learned in 10 interviews earlier this year.
In at least 5 interviews, I was perched on a lab stool. I switched to pants after the first one. There's nothing worse than a skirt on a lab stool.
Nice, polished low-heeled shoes that you can wear to walk for at least 2 miles.
Stockings, not knee-highs. No bare legs, even if you have a tan.
A nice blouse that remains tucked in and looks nice so you can take off your jacket. I was hiking around St. Louis U in April, when it was an unexpectedly warm 85 degrees. We were outside for at least an hour. I didn't follow this suggestion, and I almost died from heatstroke. Some of the waiting rooms get pretty stuffy, too.
I saw a lot of nice suits that did not fit, and all of them were too big. Guys, go to a tailor and get everything altered, especially the length of your pants and sleeves.
Breath mints.
Something to read or do, but don't pack a big bag. Some of my interviews had two hours of free time. If you must carry a briefcase or backpack, stick a smaller purse inside it to carry around campus tours. Then you don't have to worry about your wallet in an unlocked conference room, but you're not stuck with a big bag either.

guys, put a shine on your shoes too.

My suggestions, FWIW. smile.gif

1. Everything that Susan said.
2. Please don’t be a penguin. Black suit, white shirt/blouse. When you are interviewing, look around you. You’ll see a sea of penguins. (pun kind of intended.) Don’t be one of them. Add some color to your outfit, and don’t wear black & white if you can possible avoid it.
3. Make sure you’ve worn your interview outfit at least once before you do your interview. That way you will know that it fits and will be comfortable. You don’t want to be distracted prodding and pulling at your clothing during the interview day.
4. The way you dress is indicative (to the interviewers) of how much respect you have for the process. It doesn’t matter that your interviewer may be in cut-offs with holes at the pockets, flip flops or Birks, and a ratty t-shirt. (Med students in California might be extremely casual when they interview applicants.) You are there for a “job” interview and must convey that impression. And, just because your interviewer may be in casual clothes is not an invitation to get very casual yourself by removing your tie, kicking off your shoes, whatever. smile.gif
Be prepared for the process, but remember, it’s just a conversation. Enjoy it as much as possible.

No kidding about looking professional it is amazing what people wear! Today I saw a lady with sandals not the really nice one but the flip flop kind blink.gif and with no suit it looked awful OMG I felt so bad for her…I just thought that at this level people knew how to dress appropriately.

Thanks for all the advice gang!!
My wife and I went to Men’s Wearhouse today and bought a really nice charcoal grey suit with a couple conservative shirts with accessories. Although I liked a lot of the brighter shirt colors, the saleslady convinced me to take the more conservative approach. Got some really nice shoes to make up for it… smile.gif
They also had a 110% money back guarantee in case the suit doesn’t work and I get rejected everywhere.
Just kidding. tongue.gif
Thanks again!!

I ditto the “make sure it fits” comments. Men can stand out with a “different” (but not wacky) shirt and tie. Women, do something other than the typical blouse if you can. And you can! cool.gif
If you’re travelling and have a “back up” blouse or shirt, BRING IT! At one interview, a young applicant was in a beautiful plum colored suit…with a BIG toothpaste dribble down the front of her blouse. I think it put her off her game that day and I felt badly for her. I’ve also seen breakfast stuck between an applicant’s teeth! (Eat, floss/brush, THEN get dressed!)
I wore a black pantsuit made by a good designer (ya gotta love outlets sometimes!). It was a fabric that came out of my garment bag in wrinkle free condition. Under the jacket, I wore a bright turquoise silk blend, knit top. Black shoes (clean and comfortable), with a 2" heel. Very simple, but I felt great and was comfortable. When I got to campus, I locked my purse in the car and kept only the key and my driver’s license in my pocket. I carried extra copies of my app, photo and CV with me in a neat portfolio.
Anyhow, enjoy your interviews! They should treat you well and vice versa. You never know which little things make a difference…I had a Christmas wreathe on the front of my car’s grill. When we all got back to campus after lunch, the admissions director commented on it. When I told her that we do that every year, she smiled at me in a warm way. She hadn’t known it was mine.
Please let us know how it goes. Good luck!

Thanks for all of the advice on what to wear. I’ve been out suit shopping. Thinking of wearing a suit of any type is stressful enough!! ohmy.gif What about hair? That’s a girl question I know. I’m the “no-make up, no jewelry type” so my goal is to look prof not frumpy, rather than overdone. I’ve got shoulder length hair, usually not much done to it, no “product”, etc. Any hints? I realize I may not even know what “professional” is in the current job market. (Been a nurse for a long time) Kathy

I have really long and thick hair so I have to put it up, I wear it in a twist-knot with a stick thingie through it (black and small enough to wear it does not poke anyone in the eye)

I suggest for hair to avoid anything “cutsie”. All or some of your hair pulled back with a barrett or clip is fine. You don’t want it swinging in your face. If you have (like me) little hairs that want to frizz out anyway, a little spritz of hair spray on the top will help out. It won’t feel like you’ve got a lot of heavy stuff in your hair and won’t look out of control, either.
Good luck,
Kim cool.gif

whatever you decide to do - try it for an entire day (or two) before you go with it. By that I mean - if you will be putting up your hair but you usually don't - try it to find out what happens after a few hours. Wear your shoes walking around for a few hours before you are sure you will wear them on interview tours. If you're not used to makeup - make yourself up and wear it all day - and find out if your lipstick disappears or you have an eye-rubbing habit you never knew about, or … whatever. You want to be comfortable in whatever you end up with. If you never wear a skirt and plan to wear a skirt suit - wear it for a half-a-day to practice standing up, sitting down, up and down stairs, sitting opposite someone, even visiting the restroom and struggling with hose in those small stalls can be an adventure if you are not used to it…

for anyone trying to find a women's suit (as in women's sizes) - I saw a catalog at my mom's for jessica london ( ) and it seemed to specialize in sizes >14 and had many suit (skirt & pant) options at reasonable ($75-$150) prices. A quick glance online showed much the same.