This is a question that causes a lot of people undue stress, and one that thankfully has a fairly simple set of answers. Of course, there is no ‘golden ticket’ dress code, just as there is no perfect answer for interview or infallible revision tip with which to ace the UKCAT. However, I still recommend planning ahead what you’re going to wear on interview day so you have at least one fewer thing to stress over.
You should always dress suitably to the situation you are expecting, so let’s analyse this aspect first. What do you want to communicate about yourself to the interviewer via your clothing, or rather what are they likely to think when seeing you for the first time? The medical school is recruiting for future doctors, so ideally you should look smart, reliable and be generally well-presented. It is better to wear more subdued clothing because that way the interviewer is not provided an instant reason to dislike you - leave the ostentatious items at home.
This is of course even more true if you’ll be attending an MMI-format interview, where you’ll be making a crucial first impression multiple times.
Please note - the following recommendations are not hard-and-fast rules for acing your interview. Instead, they are tried-and-tested fashion combinations that would be appropriate for business wear and considered ‘safe’.
As with most formal occasions, I think men have it much easier, because you should be wearing a suit. Opt for a dark colour, such as black, grey or navy blue. Make sure that the jacket fits well around your shoulders when you’re buying it, because it is extremely difficult to alter the width of the shoulders, whereas the sleeve length is easier for a tailor to fix. Similarly, your trousers should fit you well in the waist, and the length can be fixed afterwards to suit (no pun intended).
A black or grey suit should usually be paired with black shoes, but you could opt for brown as well, particularly if worn with a blue suit. Your shirt should be a light tone that contrasts the jacket - plain white or a light blue is safe. I recommend wearing a tie, the colour of which should again contrast the colour of the jacket. For dark suits, I would recommend a red or blue tie with a simple pattern or no pattern at all, although any plain colour would be ideal.
Accessorise with a watch and tie clip, unless wearing a waistcoat. Your belt should match your shoes. The reason I say this about watches is that pulling out your phone to check the time if you need to looks incredibly unprofessional, even in this age. Make sure that any facial hair is well-groomed, with clean shaven being arguably the safest look, but I think virtually anything (including stubble) can work well as long as it’s tidy. If you wish to wear cologne or aftershave, choose something subtle and not heavily fruity - these are better saved for clubs.
If for some reason you are unable to find a well-fitting suit in time (as I was not, because I received the call to interview during the Christmas holidays) then I would recommend pairing a pair of black formal trousers with a dark V-neck jumper over a collared shirt and tie. All other rules apply as before, and definitely don’t wear a tie clip in this case.
Female-friendly update coming very soon!