Proper Attire for MBA Interviews
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My name is Susan Berishaj, founder and CEO of Sia Admissions. Today, I‘ll be addressing the topic of proper MBA interview attire.
Business schools attract professionals from a variety of sectors and fields. In their daily jobs, dress may vary as widely as the sectors they work in, and range from Zegna suits to jeans and T-shirts. However, when you interview with academic institutions or their representatives, proper decorum is expected.
Any interaction with a school’s representatives is an opportunity to showcase your talents and your personality. What counts as an interview is not limited to the “interview invite” resulting from your application. Take every mode of communication with the institution seriously and let every interaction be a building block in constructing your best overall impression. Never let your attire distract them from your exceptional qualities.
There are three (3) types of interviews settings: formal, informal, and online.
Typically, a formal setting is an interview conducted on campus, an information event conducted by the institution, recruiting events, etc. These are events hosted by the target institution and have a direct bearing on your application – direct contact with the admission team or representatives that can influence an admission decision.
Regardless of your stage in the application process (early evaluation, or further down the line), you should take an interview with the target institution very seriously.
Men should wear a suit and tie, and women should wear a suit or a business ¾ length dress with a blazer. Keep in mind that the school representative is not expecting fashion-forward attire. A monochrome clean-cut presentation will do – please leave your bright-colored ties, pocket squares, and socks for the office.
Both women and men should be well groomed with clean cut nails and styled hair. Decisions for makeup and fragrances should be subtle. In other words, your physical presentation should not be distracting to the interviewer.
While an informal setting is obviously less formal– like a current student or alum interview at a coffee shop - proper decorum is still expected. Remember, they have taken time out of their schedules to get to know you and your ambitions and, if nothing else, dressing appropriately is a sign of respect for them and their time.
It is acceptable to dress smart casual at an interview conducted at an informal setting. A broad spectrum of dress falls under the smart casual category – falling anywhere between wearing a suit with no tie (for men) and dark clean-cut jeans with a blazer. So, what to wear in an informal setting is dependent on who you are meeting. For example, if you meet an alum high-power executive banker, then a suit is expected. However, if you meet the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, who notoriously works in jeans and a t-shirt, you might dress in dark jeans and a blazer. Do your homework and understand who it is that you are meeting as well as the environment of the location they have chosen to meet in..
As to meeting a student (potential peer), then dark jeans and a sweater (button down, depending on season) are perfectly acceptable substitutions.
Interview Conducted Online:
When it comes to online interviews there are three components that matter: lighting, background, and attire. You should place a lamp behind the camera to ensure that your face is appropriately luminated, and there should be no distraction in the background.
When it comes to online interview attire, typically, the interviewer only sees your shoulders and above. You should err on the side of formal, especially if it’s an interview with an admissions representative. We recommend that you wear full business attire – suite and tie for men or a suit or dress with a blazer for women. What matters here is that the interviewer sees business attire on screen. If comfort is important to you during the interview, do what feels best off-screen.
I hope you find this information helpful. And please reach out if we can help with your applications and/or interview. Our contact information is on the screen below. Good luck!