Dressed to Impress: Choose the Perfect College Interview Outfit

Imagine the most delicious donut you’ve ever tasted: Light, fluffy, and just a touch of cinnamon sugar. Now, imagine that someone punches your donut in the face. Does it still taste good? Who knows. It looks so bad that many people wouldn’t even attempt to eat it.

College interviews are the same way, except without the face-punching. The way you present yourself is just as important as what you say and who you are as a person. Remember, your college recruiter has very little time to decide if you’re a good fit for their school. That means you need to make a great impression quickly – one that says you are exactly the kind of student they want, both inside and out. Here are the 5 simple secrets of picking the perfect outfit.

KISS for Your Interview

KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. Make sure that you don’t scare your interviewer off with wild colors, accessories, or piercings. The simpler your attire is, the more likely it is to make a positive impression. No stilettos or cleavage-revealing club tops. No gigantic Mohawk or spiked throat collars. Choose an outfit that is professional but still reflects a little bit of your personality.

Color Is King

A study by Harris Interactive showed that most job recruiters both consciously and subconsciously note the colors you pick for your interview outfit. Since getting into college is now your full-time job, consider their findings: Job recruiters suggest wearing blue 23% of the time and black 15% of the time.

Still, you don’t want to be lost in a sea of monochromatic sameness. Consider choosing a color that fits your school’s ideal student. If you are applying for law school, black, grey, and white might be good colors. For a theatrical program, brown and green might be a good fit. According to color psychology each color has its meaning so you may choose the colors of your outfit according to the impression you want to create:

  • Black – Leadership
  • Blue – Team Player
  • Gray – Logical/Analytical
  • White – Organized
  • Brown – Dependable
  • Red – Power
  • Green, Yellow, Purple – Creative
  • Orange – Unconventional/Unprofessional

Be Wise, Accessorize

Now, we’re not saying that you should look like your Great Aunt Judy (three sets of earrings, two scarves, and a bedazzled Christmas sweater), but consider a tactful and interesting accessory to wear during your interview. A small, personal bit of jewelry like a ring or tie tack is a great way to show your personality without overwhelming your interviewer. Also, steer clear of inappropriate accessories like sunglasses, hats, and gaudy belts or belt buckles that might make you look unprofessional.

The Secret’s in the Smell

In a recent study of Le Moyne College, researchers proved that how a person smells affects the first impression they make at the interview. And, an additional study from La Salle University showed that a slight floral fragrance leads to more positive interactions between strangers. Needless to say, taking a shower and using a fresh-smelling deodorant is a must for a good college interview.

That being said, too much scent can have the opposite effect. Not only can it overwhelm people in the room, but can set off scent allergies. No one wants to be remembered as the person who sent the recruiter into anaphylactic shock.

The Taboo List

Although many people know exactly what “business professional” means, there are many who don’t. There are several things that, may immediately cross you off the list. Here are the biggest outfit liabilities for your college interview:

For Ladies

  • Nails longer than 1 inch
  • Huge or gaudy earrings
  • Overly-teased hair
  • High heels over 2 inches
  • Colored or patterned stockings
  • Frills or ruffles
  • Skirts more than 2 inches above the knee
  • Shirts that reveal cleavage or stomach area
  • All piercings except a single pair of earrings
  • Clothing that shows tattoos

For Gentlemen

  • Sagging pants
  • Mohawks or other unconventional hair styles
  • Unbuttoned shirts
  • Novelty or leather ties/bolo ties
  • Sneakers
  • White socks with dark dress pants – black only
  • T-shirts
  • Piercings of any kind
  • Clothing that shows tattoos
  • Jeans

Remember that you dress to impress interviewers, not some party people. Your outfit canl open the doors of prestigious colleges for you, so take it serious. What is more, you will get more chances to prove that your personality is just as reliable, interesting and respectable, as your appearance is.

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