Top 10 Tips for Dressing Smart for Your College Admissions Interview

Updated January 2019

Do you want to show that you are a student who is serious about your education? Dressing appropriately for a college admissions interview is a smart way to show respect for the official that will be meeting with you.

Donna Dilley, etiquette consultant, shares her top ten tips for students who wish to dress to impress:

Think Professional

  1. Top 10 Tips for Dressing Smart for your College Admissions InterviewRemember the old “Pants on the Ground” video? If not, go to YouTube and check it out. Gentlemen, please wear your pants with a belt and keep underwear hidden from public view. Ladies, please check clothes for proper fit also.
  2. Leave hats, flip-flops, sunglasses, graphic T-shirts and jeans at home.
  3. Remove any piercings except those from your ears. Jewelry should not distract the interviewer from communicating and building rapport, and while we know creativity has its place too, there are still people with hang-ups and preconceived ideas. Too much metal and too much bling has a tendency, still, to distract.
  4.  Stick to the basics. For men, khaki pants with a belt and a collared shirt tucked in gives a perfect look. For women, a knee length skirt or dress trousers with a simple blouse creates a positive impression. If your interview is in the winter, wear an overcoat.
  5. Wear appropriate and polished shoes. Ladies, leave the platforms for another occasion. Gentleman, please note that sneakers do not go with the ensemble mentioned above in tip #4. Get real shoes.
  6. Avoid wearing too much cologne or perfume.
  7. Ladies should keep makeup simple and light. Gentlemen should shave or have their facial hair neatly trimmed.
  8. Use an iron. Wrinkled clothes give the wrong impression about your ambition.
  9. Keep your hairstyle simple and conservative. Avoid extreme styles and/or colors.
  10. Be sure to wear a smile. We’re not saying be jolly, but be pleasant and authentic. You’re putting the best of yourself out there.

Be Courteous

Aside from these tips, go with a spirit of gratitude. Thank the interviewer for her/his time. Know in advance where the interview will occur and keep contact phone numbers handy in case of any unexpected emergency. Follow up after the interview with a handwritten note of thanks.

Related articles:

The College Interview (College Board)

How to Nail Your College Admissions Interview (FastWeb)

College Admissions Interview Prep Tips You Can Use (CollegeView)

College Interview: Dress Appropriately (SCV)


Donna Dilley has been a provider of business etiquette and international protocol training for adults as well as children, colleges and universities, governments and Fortune 500 corporations since 1994. You are invited to follow her on Twitter @donnadilley.

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