Residency Interview Attire Style Guide


residency interview attire

I posted about appropriate residency interview attire in the past but I wanted to refresh my blogpost this year with new picks for women’s suits and shoes. Interview season is coming up, and I know a lot of you are busy getting ready to look your best and dazzle the faculty across the country. A lot of you may be stressed, thinking pants suit vs. skirt suit, or navy vs. blue, but let me lay it out for you. We are interested in your mind and your character, not your sense of style, so as long as you look professional and not sloppy, you don’t need to worry!

On to the recommendations:

Suits for Women

Skirt suits are more traditional and some people say that East Coast programs prefer skirt suits on women. I wore a pants suit to ALL my interviews, the same pants suit I bought years ago when I applied to medical school. I think you should wear whatever you’re comfortable in, but please make sure that it is tailored so it fits well.

I wore a black pantsuit to all my interviews, but whenever I looked out all I saw was a sea of black suits. In retrospect, a navy or gray suit would have been nice to stand out from the crowd. However, black is very professional, so you can’t go wrong with a nice fitting black skirt or pants suit. It’s also very versatile and will never go out of style.

I especially love this overall look from Tahari – sleek, clean, and professional.

Also, Ann Taylor is having a 40% off sale right now with code FRIENDS40. They also have a great suit collection, including special sizing for petites.

Inside the Suit

I wore pretty run of the mill button up shirts inside of my suit, but I saw many women who wore a mix of button ups and also cute blouses and shells. If you have a black suit, you may want to opt for a more colorful blouse just to add some personality to it!

Loft is also having a 40% off of sale right now and they have a few cute options for what to wear inside your suit jacket as well.


My goal with shoes is to BE COMFORTABLE. A lot of interviews involve tours around the hospital and campus, so this means lots of walking. At my residency program interview we walked nearly 1 mile back and forth to see different hospitals! So this means you have to wear comfortable yet professional looking shoes. I can’t stress how important it is to TEST OUT YOUR SHOES beforehand. Wear them around the house and out for a walk to break them in. I wore wedges to all the interviews and changed into flats for walking tours, which helped save my feet many a time!

Some comfy yet stylish shoes:

A few other tips:

  • You don’t want to be fussing with outfit choices last minute, so shop in advance! This goes out to the ladies AND the men; getting a proper suit tailored takes time, so look around ahead of time.
  • (I posted this before but I think this is pretty handy:)
  • Bring a professional looking bag that’s large enough to carry a few essentials:

•   an extra pair of shoes for walking (I personally love Tieks because you can fold these in half and carry them around in a little bag…plus they’re comfortable and come in a variety of colors #NOTsponsored)
• a notepad or padfolio (Stanford gave medical students one when we started school, but this is not an absolute necessity)
• a pen or two
• bottle of water
• iphone charger or portable phone charger (cutest one I’ve found here)
• Emergency pack should you need it: extra hair ties, gum, band aids (especially with long walking tours!), tampon/pads, hand sanitizer, aspirin, lip balm or lipstick, sunscreen, concealer, Tide pen (cannot emphasize this one enough for spills!)

Find a bag with a zipper on top as well. With all the traveling on the interview day and the multiple plane rides in between, you don’t want to risk anything falling out or getting stolen.

No matter what you wear, I hope your outfit makes you feel confident, stylish, and comfortable. Good luck everyone!

14 Comments on Residency Interview Attire Style Guide

  1. Bianca
    September 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm (5 months ago)

    I have never been a fan of suits. They are a little too constricting.

  2. Mia
    September 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm (5 months ago)

    I also wore pants suits to my medical school interviews, residency interviews, and even fellowship interviews! I ended up at an east coast school, a california residency, and will be doing fellowship in Texas. I prefer pants suits because you’re not worrying about panty hose or if your skirt is riding up while you’re sitting down (esp if there’s no desk in between you and the interviewer) and I never got a comment from anyone about it. Thinking back, the majority of people I’ve recently seen on interviews have also worn pants suits.
    I actually wore flats (that I still have) to all my interviews as well! They’re pointed toe black flats so they appear a little more formal under the pants but I can wear them all day long. Multiple people actually complimented me on my flats and I never had a problem saying yes if they asked if it was ok to take the stairs instead of the elevator. The plus side is I didn’t have to carry any extra shoes.
    I’m in pediatrics so color and personality in your outfit (at least in california) was looked upon favorably and I wore a wide variety of colors to all my interviews. As long as you’re not flashing anyone when you bend down, i think it’s fine.

  3. J. Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV, DO
    September 22, 2017 at 12:53 am (5 months ago)


    is there any way i can match in derm?

    i did not match after 4th year, and i did not match after my internship…is there still a chance?

    thank you.

    J. Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV, D.O., CRNA, RN, BSN
    Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, D.O. Medicine
    University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, CRNA
    University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, BSN
    Harvard University, A.B. History

    • Joyce
      October 1, 2017 at 2:37 pm (5 months ago)

      Hello, without knowing the specifics of your application, I would recommend in general taking time off to do a research year or a fellowship year in dermatology. This will help increase publications and hopefully presentations at meetings, and also allow you an opportunity to get to know a faculty mentor who can vouch for you during applications. I think this would go a long way! Good luck!

  4. Kelly
    September 29, 2017 at 2:37 pm (5 months ago)

    This is perfect timing; I’m looking for an interview suit right now! I’ve also been wanting to get some black Tory Burch flats with the gold logo on the toe for a while, and was considering getting them for residency interviews; do you think the gold part will be too flashy? Should I go with flats that are all black?

    • Joyce
      October 1, 2017 at 2:35 pm (5 months ago)

      Hi Kelly! I have Tory Burch flats in black with a gold logo (the Caroline flats) and I think they are professional enough for interviews. Personally I prefer leather rather than patent leather so it’s not too flashy and in my opinion leather is more professional, but to be honest I don’t think people would notice too much.

  5. Petra
    October 1, 2017 at 1:52 pm (5 months ago)

    I, too, agonized over my interview clothes for med, residency (plastics), fellowship (peds), how much colour/jewelry/make-up/hair/shoes and I completely understand the stress. Plan ahead.

    In the end, I also wore a classic black pantsuit to everything because I didn’t have to worry about my skirt riding up, tights running etc. I usually opted for a fun coloured shell beneath and coordinated my jewelry to match. Black flats every time- you never know where the tour will lead you.

    I let my creative side out with accessories. I like simple colourful jewelry and felt that it gave others a sense of my personality while still being professional. I was often complimented by consultants at the socials post-interview and it is also a nice ice-breaker.

    This may just be me (my go to evening outfit is the little black dress with jazzy jewelry), but I certainly think that clean lines, good tailoring, a slimming colour like black, simple make-up and hair is a nice uniform and with your jewelry you can let your creative side show. This will give you confidence to answer their questions well and show that you deserve this position.

    I also recommend taking the outfit (including shoes) with you on the plane. We had one co-resident who took his suit with him, but ended up wearing sneakers to the interview because his shoes were in his luggage which didn’t make it. He was happy to make a joke of it (Canadians know all too well about flight cancellations/lost luggage), but the lesson is to take essentials with you.

    • Joyce
      October 1, 2017 at 2:33 pm (5 months ago)

      Petra, I love your tips!! Thank you so much for sharing. The jewelry can definitely add a little flair and personality to an otherwise more simple suit. Also such a great tip about bringing the outfit as a carry on; you just don’t want to risk your luggage being lost!

    • Joyce
      October 4, 2017 at 1:07 pm (5 months ago)

      Hi Elisse, I actually haven’t personally seen anyone wear cropped pants to an interview but to be completely honest, I probably didn’t notice. For East Coast programs which are more traditional I would recommend wearing floor length pants, but I think West Coast programs would not mind as much.

  6. Sarah
    October 7, 2017 at 8:26 pm (5 months ago)

    Hi Joyce, would it be too loud to wear a royal blue shell with a charcoal grey or a black pantsuit? Also what are your thoughts on a pleated deep wine blouse with the same suit colors? The struggle is real to achieve the right balance in the overall look!

    • Joyce
      October 20, 2017 at 7:38 am (4 months ago)

      Hi Sarah, sorry for the late response! I think a royal blue shell or wine colored blouse with a gray or black pantsuit would both look great! I don’t think it would look too loud at all. As long as your suit colors are more traditional (gray, black, navy etc) I think you can wear non traditional colors inside the suit. Good luck!

  7. Seline
    October 11, 2017 at 3:36 pm (4 months ago)

    Is it okay to wear a black blouse with grey skirt suit ?
    Because some were asking me if black blouse is a bit unconventional?!
    But I saw in so many blogs written by current residents talking about pink , purple blouses..which made me wonder then how come black blouse is a big deal ?
    Please help me with this

    • Joyce
      October 20, 2017 at 7:35 am (4 months ago)

      Hi Seline, I think a black blouse with a gray skirt suit would look fine. A white shirt is more conventional but that doesn’t mean black is unacceptable. I don’t think it will make a huge difference either way so don’t worry!


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