What to Wear to a College Interview (2023)

What to Wear to a College InterviewWhat Not to Wear to a College InterviewWhy Is Your College Interview Important?FAQs: What to Wear to a College Interview

What to Wear to a College Interview (1)

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/4/22

You’re hard at work preparing for your interview – but have you decided what to wear? It’s more important than you might realize! Read our top pointers on what to wear to a college interview.

(Video) How To Dress for a College Interview

Every college applicant has things that make them unique and special. But sometimes, these winning traits simply don’t jump off the page when admissions officers go through applications.

That’s why when it comes to applying to colleges, there’s no better way for admissions officers to get to know you than in the all-important college interview. It’s your chance to show off your knowledge, skills, accomplishments, and connect with those responsible for accepting you on a personal level!

In other words: there’s a lot riding on this. The impression you make will be instrumental in shaping your future, so you want to make sure it’s a good one. And one key part of a great first impression? A great outfit. Here’s everything you need to know about deciding what to wear to a college interview!

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What to Wear to a College Interview

If you’re applying for college, you’ve probably got your hands more than full with preparations. You’re prepping answers for the questions you’ll receive, researching schools, looking into grants and scholarships, and ensuring your applications are free of any mistakes.

So if deciding what to wear is a little lower on your priority list, we don’t blame you!

(Video) How to Dress for College Interview? | College Interview Tips for Students

If you’re not sure what to choose as your college interview outfit, we’ve got you covered. Here are some fashion pointers to help you look and feel your best in your admissions interview!

College Interview Outfits for Men

As a male-identifying student who’s not sure what to wear for this important meeting, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The first is that while a college interview is a fairly formal event, that doesn’t mean you should dress formally – in the traditional sense.

What does this mean? Don’t reach for that fancy wedding suit or the waistcoat you bought for prom. Instead, go for a more business casual look. Rather than a full suit, wear a blazer over a more casual button-up with a pair of khakis. And great news: you can ditch the tie.

Be sure that everything you wear fits properly. Regardless of how good the outfit is, you won’t look good if it’s ill-fitting. Keep accessories, patterns, and other accents in check as well, ensuring they’re not distracting from the most important thing: you!

College Interview Outfits for Women

It has to be said: choosing a college interview outfit can be tougher for feminine looks. Compared to male fashion, women have far more options in the business casual category alone. And while this can be a blessing, it can also make decisions difficult.

As with male fashion, you don’t want to overdress for the occasion. For one thing, heels are probably best left at home for your interview, particularly if you’ll be walking on campus. Opt for dress shoes, boots, or flats instead.

Dresses, trousers, and skirts are all great choices for a college interview. Try to choose something with more conservative colors and patterns, and of course, make sure everything fits properly. Your outfit should make you feel confident and professional.

What Not to Wear to a College Interview

If you’re starting to think about your interview outfit and you’re still having trouble narrowing down your options, then it’s time to think about what not to wear.

In general, you should avoid anything that doesn’t feel professional. Would you head to a job interview, a meeting with your boss, or another formal event in your outfit? If the answer is no, it probably shouldn’t be a part of your admissions interview look.

Here are a few things to leave in the closet on the day of your college interview:

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  • Hats
  • Open-toed shoes (e.g. flip-flops, sandals, etc.)
  • Stiletto or platform heels
  • Sunglasses (unless you can put them away during the interview)
  • Three-piece suits
  • Flashy jewellery
  • Ties and bowties
  • Revealing clothes
  • Shorts
  • Leggings
  • Patterned or ripped tights
  • Sneakers (with the exception of clean, dressier sneakers)
  • Branded college apparel (from any school)

In general, you shouldn’t wear anything that doesn’t feel like you. If you’re not feeling confident or authentic in your outfit, it can really show in your confidence during the interview – whether you know it or not.

Why Is Your College Interview Important?

As we mentioned before, the college interview is a crucial part of the application journey. This is your best (and perhaps only) chance to sit down with someone face-to-face and truly make an impression, not as a name on a page, but as a person.

Typically, getting an interview is the last step of the admissions process. It means they’re interested in your application and want to know more, but it’s certainly not a guarantee. So nailing the interview is of the utmost importance!

These days, colleges mainly use a holistic method of admissions that takes the whole person into account – not just their academic record. So everything from your volunteer work, to your passions, to, yes, your outfit, can play a role in the admission officer’s final decision.

FAQs: What to Wear to a College Interview

Still wondering what you should wear to your college interview? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the all-important interview outfit!

1. What Should You Not Wear to a College Interview?

T-shirts, sneakers, hats, shorts, and anything else suited to an evening out or a day at the beach should be avoided. Also, stay away from anything too revealing, and any clothes or accessories that will distract the interviewer.

2. What is Appropriate to Wear to a College Interview?

Think business casual. Button-up shirts (no ties) paired with a blazer or a crewneck knit. Structured dresses or pencil skirts with dress boots or flats. Or even a simple button-up shirt or blouse and a pair of dress pants!

3. Do You Dress Up for a College Interview?

Absolutely! This is an important meeting, and you want to make sure you look your best – without being overdressed. Some schools will have different expectations (e.g. business schools might want you to wear a suit), but business casual is the general standard.

4. Can You Wear Jeans to a College Interview?

No – with one caveat. Depending on the fit, wash, and condition, a pair of black jeans can work with a business casual look. You’ll want to make up for it by making sure you wear a nice shirt or blouse. And if you can get some dress pants, opt for those instead.

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5. How Do I Dress Up for a College Interview on a Budget?

This is an important question, as surveys have found that enrolment rates are decreasing due to financial hardship. The good news? Prepping an outfit for your college interview can be done for cheap! Build an outfit around what you have already. Thrift stores are also a great place to look for gently used business casual clothes.

6. What if My College Interview is Online?

It might feel strange to get dressed up just to sit at your desk, but the answer is yes. Putting together an appropriate outfit will not only show the interviewer that you’re serious, but it will help you feel more confident as well. Although, if there was ever a time to get away with wearing shorts in an interview, this would be it!

Final Thoughts

Clearly, there’s more than first meets the eye when it comes to college interview prep. And while your fashion choices might not be top of mind, what you wear in your college admissions interview does, in fact, matter.

By putting some thought into your college interview outfit, you’ll come across as professional and thoughtful, and your confidence will shine through as well. And while it’s not as important as who you are, the way you look can help colleges get to know you as well.

Are you ready to nail that interview and get into the college of your dreams? Getting in touch with one of our admissions consultants can make all the difference.

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Speak to a former college admissions officer about how we can help you get into your dream school

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What should I wear in college interview? ›

Think black slacks or a modest black skirt, with a solid-colored collared shirt, blouse, or sweater. It should be very nice, but not overdone. Jewelry should be nice and professional, not overstated. Perfume or cologne should be understated.

What should you not wear to a college interview? ›

No flip flops or open-toed shoes, no spiky stiletto heels, no sneakers, and no white athletic socks with dark dress shoes. The casual part of business casual means your child should be comfortable in their clothing. There's no need for a tie or three-piece suit.

Is it OK to wear jeans to a college interview? ›

Can You Wear Jeans to a College Interview? No – with one caveat. Depending on the fit, wash, and condition, a pair of black jeans can work with a business casual look. You'll want to make up for it by making sure you wear a nice shirt or blouse.

What do you wear to an interview when you have nothing to wear? ›

At minimum, smart jeans and a long sleeved shirt are acceptable, but if in doubt wear a plain suit (both men and women). Hoodies, beanies and caps are a no-go zone. If you're partial to a hat, indulge in a smart one, but take it off for the meeting. Avoid anything too tight, too loose or ill-fitting.

How do you introduce yourself in a college interview? ›

Follow these steps to prepare an answer to this common college interview question:
  1. Provide an informal introduction. ...
  2. Talk about family and upbringing. ...
  3. Mention your general activities. ...
  4. Talk about quantifiable achievements. ...
  5. Give some unique personal information. ...
  6. Explain why this opportunity is important for you.
12 Jul 2022

Does outfit matter in interview? ›

The way you dress for an interview gives potential employers their first impression of how you present yourself professionally. Even if you look great on paper, if you don't dress appropriately for an interview, you give the impression that you lack respect for yourself and those you are meeting with.

Is wearing all black to an interview OK? ›

Wear: Black

“As a high-powered color, save it for high-powered interviews,” reports fashion brand Who What Wear. “Because black can come off as powerful and aloof, it's ideal for top jobs and managerial positions, but it's not great if you're applying for something in customer service, retail, or anything entry-level.”

How should I wear my hair for a college interview? ›

If you have long hair, consider putting it up in a bun or ponytail to keep it out of the way. Long, flowing waves are nice, but be sure that they're styled well enough to hold up during an interview. If you're not sure, a bun or ponytail will look fine. Colored hair shouldn't be a problem for most schools.

Is there a thing as overdressed for an interview? ›

Overdressing for an interview is usually less of a concern than underdressing. You are more likely to turn off a hiring manager by dressing in a way that shows insincerity for the opportunity. It is important to consider the standard dress of a potential workplace, though.

How long does a college interview last? ›

Most interviews run approximately 30 minutes to an hour. Students are sometimes told that the sign of a good interview is a long one.

Are black jeans inappropriate for an interview? ›

A safe bet is a very dark wash of denim or a black pair. If you chose to wear denim like this, make sure they have a polished fit. Men can also wear a dark or black pair of jeans with a blazer if they think it's appropriate. Always wear a dressier top if you are wearing jeans for your interview.

What you should not wear to college? ›

On the list of items students should never wear, were swimsuits, furry shoes (slippers), sunglasses, visible bra straps, leggings as pants, thongs (in conjunction with low-rise jeans) and junderwear (also known as jean shorts).

What is the best color to wear to an interview? ›

Neutral colors - navy, gray, black, and brown - are the best colors for a job interview. White is also an excellent color for a blouse or button-down shirt. You can certainly add a pop of color to a neutral interview outfit.

What Females should wear to an interview? ›

Dress pants, pencil skirts, knee-length dresses, blazers, neutral or light-colored blouses, sweaters, cardigans, tights, and suits are all acceptable forms of interview attire. Dress shoes should be closed-toed heels, flats, or short boots.

What is your weakness best answer? ›

Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

How do you answer why should we accept you into our college? ›

Don't talk about how amazing you are. Instead, talk about how are you going to make the other students amazing. Lean on who you are, your experiences, your skills, and your talents.

Can you tell me a little about yourself interview answer? ›

A simple formula for answering “Tell me about yourself”

Present: Talk a little bit about what your current role is, the scope of it, and perhaps a big recent accomplishment. Past: Tell the interviewer how you got there and/or mention previous experience that's relevant to the job and company you're applying for.

How do you dress to impress? ›

Make A Good Impression, Dress to Impress
  1. Professional looking suit, tailored dress or pantsuit. Lean toward the conservative side with skirted suits and use the gray or black. ...
  2. Polished and comfortable shoes. Shoes should be conservative; low to medium heels are best.
  3. Accessories. Make-up should enhance your appearance.

What color should you not wear to an interview? ›

Yellow, green, orange and purple

Orange, in particular, is considered the most inappropriate color for an interview and can come across as overly confident and unprofessional.

Which of the following is useful tip for college interview? ›

More Interview Tips for College Admission

Ask questions. Express your interest in the college. Create your own list of questions to ask a college interviewer while you have their attention. Most interviewers are alumni/ae.

Do nails matter in an interview? ›

Avoid chipped or multicolored nails, she says, as well as artwork, gems, glitter and particularly dark or bright colors. Even if your navy manicure looks fabulous, your interviewer should be wondering where you'll fit on the org chart – not where you you get your nails done.

Does hair color affect interview? ›

The color of your hair should not really matter to a prospective employer however it really does. It is not that they do not want you to dye your hair, it's that they don't want your hair to be something out of this world working for their companies.

Is wearing jeans to an interview OK? ›

The answer isn't always cut and dry, but jeans are generally never appropriate interview attire, even if you're a student, you're applying for a part-time or hourly wage job, or you're interviewing with a tech company.

Is it better to wear your hair up or down for an interview? ›

Keep it simple with a ponytail

Instead of wearing your hair down, wear a classy bun or ponytail, or twist your hair into a smooth, long braid to keep your hair away from your face. Classy buns, ponytails or a long braid can give a professional look to your style while keeping you comfortable.

Do interviewers care about hair? ›

If an interviewer perceives your hairstyle as rebellious or unprofessional, it could be held against you. This isn't to say that you won't get the job because you wear your hair in a particular style. But if you don't look put together (i.e., a professional look), your first impression could be ruined.

How should I do my makeup for an interview? ›

Use these tips to apply interview makeup to boost your confidence while interviewing and cultivate a put-together, professional aesthetic:
  1. Moisturize. ...
  2. Stick to neutrals. ...
  3. Don't forget the primer. ...
  4. Color correct. ...
  5. Apply light foundation. ...
  6. Opt for subtle eyeliner. ...
  7. Avoid dark lips. ...
  8. Emphasize your brows.

What should you not bring to an interview? ›

Things not to bring for an interview:
  • Your mom (your best friend, your boyfriend, etc.) ...
  • Your cat or accessory dog. ...
  • Any electronic devices which aren't in silent mode. ...
  • A cup of coffee or snacks. ...
  • An issue of Glamour or Twilight. ...
  • The shopping bags. ...
  • A product of the rival company. ...
  • A chewing gum.

Is it OK to admit you are nervous at an interview? ›

“I'm a little nervous.” Acknowledging that your nerves are getting the better of you might actually help you shake off your nervousness. Most interviewers have been there, too, at some point in their career and will understand.

Can a college interview hurt you? ›

They rarely hurt you, and in some cases, they can make up for lackluster GPA and test scores. Interviews not only demonstrate your interest in a college, which can boost your acceptance odds, but you also gain a competitive edge over other applicants who opted not to do an interview.

Can a good college interview get you in? ›

The interview is rarely the deciding factor in whether the college will accept you, but it can give a representative from the college a chance to get to know you better. And the interview gives you a chance to: Show your interest in the college. Share information about yourself beyond what's listed on your transcript.

Should I wear jeans or leggings to an interview? ›

It depends on the dress code of the company you are interviewing with. If the company has a casual dress code, then jeans are probably acceptable. However, if the company has a more formal dress code, you might want to wear dress pants or a skirt.

Is smart casual okay for an interview? ›

Many professional industries have moved towards business/smart casual attire in the workplace, helping to increase employee comfort in the office. During your interview, the employers will want you to feel comfortable, so try choosing an outfit that helps to reflect that business/smart casual look and feel.

Is jeans and shirt OK for interview? ›

No matter the company, you should always refrain from wearing torn clothing, like ripped jeans, even if that is a style. Other clothing choices to avoid include: Denim and jeans should be avoided because it appears unprofessional in most settings. Graphic T-shirts, especially novelty shirts or anything with art.

How a girl should dress up for college? ›

Remember that comfort should always come first. Load up on jeans, t-shirts, button down shirts, sweatshirts, and outerwear such as utility jackets and denim jackets. Also, don't forget to pair your college outfit with stylish sneakers and backpacks or over-sized handbags, to fit all your daily essentials.

Is it OK to wear leggings to college? ›

If a woman feels confident and comfortable in leggings, then there is no reason why she should stop wearing them on campus. However, if a woman does not feel comfortable in leggings or feels self-conscious about her body, then she may want to consider wearing something else on campus.

Is it important to dress well in college? ›

Being well dressed influences your body language and improves the way you carry yourself. As a student, your impression on your teachers and batch mates is important. A sloppy dresser will never be able to make an impression as good as someone who is nicely dressed.

What color looks the most professional? ›

Blue, black, grey, brown and white are the best, while orange is universally considered the worst colour for an interview. Also avoid yellow, green and purple.

What should I say in an interview introduction? ›

Greet your interviewers and tell your name to start the formal introduction. It is always a good idea to prepare for this most expected question beforehand. Do not hesitate to include some informal, personal information, such as your hobbies, or what you do on weekends.

What color is more likely to get you hired? ›

According to 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals who participated in a CareerBuilder survey, blue and black are the best colors to wear to a job interview, and orange is the worst.

What 3 questions should I ask interviewer? ›

7 good questions to ask at an interview
  • Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role? ...
  • How could I impress you in the first three months? ...
  • Are there opportunities for training and progression within the role/company? ...
  • Where do you think the company is headed in the next five years?

How should I dress for an interview in 2022? ›

Your job interview attire should fit “just right” for your body and style. Whatever you wear shouldn't be too large or small. Likewise, it shouldn't be tight or baggy. If you're unsure about a color palette, neutral colors like black, beige, blue, gray, and off-whites are always a safe bet.

Can you have bare legs at an interview? ›

Bare legs are not allowed, even for long skirts that practically touch the floor. Every organization is different. How would you know what to wear to a job interview before you get there and see how people are dressed?

What you should and shouldn't wear to an interview? ›

For most companies, conservative interview attire is a safe option. Choose clean, well-fitting clothing that evokes confidence and professionalism. No matter the company, you should always refrain from wearing torn clothing, like ripped jeans, even if that is a style.

Can I wear a sweater to a college interview? ›

Wear khakis, corduroys, jeans or other dressy pants, a dress or polo shirt with a collar, a belt and socks (not athletic socks). A sweater or sweater vest would be appropriate in cooler weather. No boxer shorts showing and no jewelry other than a watch.

What are 3 things you should avoid in an interview? ›

15 things you should avoid in a job interview
  • Arriving late. Poor time management decreases your ability to be punctual due to unpredictable delays. ...
  • Unexcused absence. ...
  • Too casual at greeting. ...
  • A lack of interest in the employer. ...
  • Questionable documents? ...
  • Overtired appearance. ...
  • Lack of care. ...
  • Inappropriate clothing.

Is a hoodie OK for an interview? ›

Some clothing should always be avoided when dressing for an interview. This includes hoodies/ sweatshirts, jeans (especially jeans with holes), t-shirts, sweat-pants, sandals, and tennis shoes. Revealing clothing or clothing that is bright or distracting should also be avoided.

Can I wear jeans and a hoodie to an interview? ›

Don't dress casually

Casual dress means something different to everyone. Yoga pants, pajamas, wrinkled clothing, jeans, shorts, hoodies, and t-shirts are all too casual for a job interview.


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