Post # 1
I know there’s a lot of Bees on here pursuing graduate degrees in what I like to think of as the more “casual” areas – for me, neuroscience research. My bosses never wear anything fancier than a sweater (usually a tshirt, this is FL) and casual non-office pants, unless we’re meeting with patients. I’m interviewing in Baltimore (and hopefully a few other places) this February and I’m looking for opinions on what to wear to look professional, but not overdressed, and to stay warm! I’m wavering between black pants, flats, a cardigan/chunky sweater, and a wool peacoat vs. something a little nicer (where I think I’ll feel overdressed), then I’ll change into dark jeans and boots for dinner with the other students. What did you wear when you interviewed for a research/liberal arts kind of graduate degree? Suggestions?
Post # 3
@MrsWrangler: I think your outfit is too casual. The black pants are fine but I would pair it with a silk shirt, a dress sweater/cardigan you get from Ann Taylor or similar store and a pair of heels with panty hose and conservative jewels like pearls or diamond studs. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The way you present yourself matters, especially the first time. Step it up a bit. Its better to look smashing and stand out than it is to look casual and not make the mark. Good luck.
Post # 4
I guess I would personally wear a suit, but I also wear a suit to work every day and have several.
I agree with PP. The black pants are fine, but I would wear a dressy blouse or a dressy sweater. Or even a skirt with a button down (tucked in) and tights. And I would bring heels to change into for the interview. It’s common to do in a city where people commute in flats and change into heels for work.
Post # 5
I agree with the PPs. You can’t be too well dressed for an interview– even though it’s a more casual working environment. I will always wear a suit to an interview and I’m a nurse. Our work outfits are scrubs. But you can go for your black pants with a nice sweater/cardigan if you want. THat does allow a little more flexibility– you can remove the cardigan (if you have a nice shirt underneath), or button it up with a lovely brooch or something. I’m not sure how buildings are in FL, but in IL and CO it’s freezing outside, but inside it’s so warm. And visa versa during the summer. I would always wear a short sleeve shirt and have lots of layers so you can remove or add a sweater as the temp dictates. Also, you can wear boots en route to the interview so you don’t get your pants wet/dirty and then change into your flats/heels once there. Just have an oversized professional bag. Good luck!
Post # 6
I interviewed for biomedical sciences PhD programs, and wore a pantsuit on the first one. I was drastically overdressed. It was me and the awkward guy in a suit and tie… awesome. Some people even wore jeans on the interview. The next few, I wore black pants and a sweater or nicer top and fit in with what everyone else was wearing. I also didn’t bring any jeans with me, but wish I would have for the casual dinners and outing with other grad students. I think your outfit choice sounds appropriate!
Post # 7
I’d wear a suit or something along the caliber that you’d wear to a job interview. You are, after all, trying to sell yourself to the school. No one is going to knock you for being over-dressed.
Also, good luck in the application process and interviews!! Are you interviewing at Hopkins??
Post # 8
I got my PhD in biology semi-recently, and when I interviewed for grad school lo these many years ago, I wore black pants and a nice sweater/button down shirt. You’ll see people wearing suits, but it’s completely unnecessary – only wear one if it makes you feel more comfortable. The most important part is being able to talk about your experience / research you’d like to do. Good luck!
Post # 9
I’m a graduate student in the physical sciences, and I think it depends on what the interview is like. If you are going for a recruitment visit/interview, then definitely black pants and sweater. If someone wore a suit to visit our program it would be WAY overdressed. Most people wear nice jeans or khakis. If it’s a one on one official interview (more like a job interview), then I’d go a little dressier, maybe a sweater, skirt and tights. But I think your plan is fine. Good luck!
ps- I’m also in FL where jeans and t shirts are the norm for both students and faculty, but most of the faculty will wear nicer pants for at least the first day of the recruitment process.
Post # 10
I would still go with a suit. or, I would wear a professional-looking skirt/dress (like I often wear this dress in black when I TA with black tights and nice boots) it might be more formal than what you wear on a normal day, but it shows respect for the institution where you’re applying. Think about what people in your field would wear to a conference where they’re presenting maybe? profs in my field don’t wear suits every day in the least, but they do at conferences
Post # 11
Thanks for the input ladies!
@Nicoley1985: Yeah that was my concern… A) I don’t own a pantsuit :)) and B) I didn’t want to stick out for being overdressed. Typically I actually wear skirts around FL but I’m not willing to potentially freeze, so black pants it is! I have a ruffly white button up (short sleeved) I’ll wear under a colored cardigan and brooch like @longdistanceco_ca: and @Soladylike: suggested. Then my goal is to look put-together, clean and pressed, but not exactly formal.
@ImDaCat: Yeah I’m working on a basic outline of how to say what I do… sometimes it gets so technical-jargon-y and I want to be able to convey what I know in a way that makes sense without a poster to back me up 🙂
@abbie017: Thanks! It’s still a little surreal… I haven’t ever moved out of FL. I’m actually interviewing at UMaryland-Baltimore, not Hopkins.
@hotchildinthecity: Never occurred to me to bring heels in my bag – good thought! Thanks!
Post # 12
I just interviewed last week for a full-time job in a university research lab (Immunology lab in the department of Physiology) so while not a graduate program, a very similar type of environment.
I wore a suit and found out this morning I got the job. I think the outift you described seems way too casual for an interview.
Post # 13
@dancewithjoy: Yeah it’s a recruitment/interview day. I’ll do everything in one day (guess they don’t want to pay for an extended hotel stay haha) – meet with students, professors, have an introduction by the dean, tour the areas. My lab is separated from the rest of the groups in our program location-wise, and since no one ever sees them my bosses don’t even dress up for recruitment… But I think it’s the norm for others to dress up a bit, you’re right.
@finnaroo: At the couple conferences I’ve been to, black pants and dress shirt/cardigan seem to be the norm… by the last days everyone was back in nice jeans and shirts haha. I love that dress! Maybe I’ll use this as an excuse to buy some new nice dresses 😉
Post # 14
@Mrs.KMM: Congrats on the job!
I’m also concerned because I don’t own a suit, although I do own a black blazer I could sub in with my black pants. I was thinking of tops along these lines (ignore the bottoms, they’d be tucked in with black pants and no belt around the middle). Still too casual with black pants, tamed hair, and pearls?
Post # 15
@MrsWrangler: I think the idea is good, perhaps with a more subdued broach.
That’s pretty much what I wore for my pre-interview this summer and it seemed to fit in well. Different field but liberal arts and right outside Philly so close enough. A friend of mine is doing part of his doctorate in a sister program to my first choice so I’m planning on interrogating him when/if I get an interview.
Post # 16
@MrsWrangler: This looks perfect to me (with black pants). Honestly I htink a suit would look strange for the day you’re describing. It would signal to me that your expectations of the day were off-base, or something. I have a grad degree and from and now do research at a university in the northeast, and I really thnk dressy casual is the way to go.