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While mandatory alumni interviews have fallen largely out of practice, some top-tier institutions still require an interview as part of the application process, and dozens of others recommend scheduling an interview for informational purposes. Whether evaluative or informational, interviews are an excellent opportunity to get some insider information on your school of choice, while simultaneously making a connection with a member of the university community. The key to making sure that connection is a valuable one is ensuring that you make a positive impression ― a notion that many will say is easier said than done.
Well, I’ve got news for those negative-nellies: they’re wrong. Making a positive impression simply requires combining a few straightforward ingredients: punctuality, preparedness, personality, and professionalism. Luckily enough, all of these can be conveyed within the first few seconds of meeting your interviewer in two elementary steps. The first is getting there on time and that’s a biggie. If you can’t be on time, don’t even bother committing to the interview. The second is by dressing to (appropriately) impress.
While we all hate to admit it, appearance is usually the first element people judge us on, and an interview is no different. Interviewers will be using your wardrobe as the basis for your first impression, so picking out the perfect outfit is crucial.
No need to panic just yet though, simply remember the three Ps, preparedness, personality, and professionalism, and you’ll be well on your way to picking out your interview power-outfit. (Not a fashionista? No worries. We have a Pinterest board to guide you, boo.)
To be prepared, you must first start by evaluating the interview setting. Many alumni interviews take place at casual meeting places around town, such as a coffee shop or all day cafe, meaning you’ll want to dress less formally. If your interview does happen to take place in a more formal setting, such as an office or nice restaurant, adjust accordingly. After picking your outfit, (more on this later,) you’ll want to make sure your desired clothes are clean, and, dream with me here honey, wrinkle-free. An iron or steamer should be your best friend when preparing for an interview. If you don’t have either, don’t worry, just hang your clothes in your bathroom and run a steamy shower for half an hour… wrinkles-be-gone! You’ll also want to lay out the outfit so it’s all in one place when you go to get dressed. If you have a furry friend, it’s also wise to stash a lint roller nearby for any possible last-minute contamination. But before you can get to any of this, you must, of course, pick out the outfit, which brings us back to personality and professionalism.
When selecting your interview outfit, you want your personality to shine through. By this I mean the polished, professional version of your personality, not the “woke up at 3am after a Netflix binge in sweats and covered in popcorn,” personality. (I love that side of you, sis, but it’s best to keep it on the DL.) Playing with bold colors, quirky patterns, different textures and fabrics, or a signature accessory according to your personality preference is great, so long as you present yourself in a professional way. As much as I hate to admit it, in an interview setting, my high school dress-code motto of “modest is hottest,” may actually apply. Think post-royal Meghan Markle. If you wouldn’t be comfortable wearing the outfit to give an important presentation in front of a large group, have a nice dinner with your grandparents, or meet your literary icon, chances are you might want to skip it for your interview as well. While the length of your skirt or the sheerness of your shirt certainly isn’t an indicator of your college worth, it’s best to air on the side of caution in case your interviewer isn’t as progressive as you’d like. Opt instead for a power-outfit ―something that makes you feel comfortable, confident, and collected. It may be your favorite pair of cords and a basic button down, or it may be a classic wrap dress with the perfect pair of nude ballet flats, but whatever your preference is, as long as you prepare in advance, dress professionally, and pick a power-outfit to fit your personality, you’ll be all set to nail both your first impression and your interview.
–> Check out our alumni interview outfits board on Pinterest for inspiration, then post a picture of your own power-outfit on social media and tag us so we can see how you style it!