T Nation

T-Nation Advice- College Interview


I have an interview coming up for Columbia University in New York. The interviewer is a 24 yr old environmental bio major, works for the Nature Conservancy, female, interview will be taking place early in the day in a powell's coffee shop.

What would be appropriate dress for this situation? I'm in Oregon, so people aren't terribly formal most of the time. I was thinking something like a sport shirt with khakis, or a polo, something of that nature. My mom's saying it's "casual chic", which means absolutely nothing to me. She says something approriately GQish would be alright.

I'd like recommendations from the board, please. I'm a highschool senior, undergraduate admissions interview. Would it be a good idea to ask her what the level of formality is?


Hey man,

One of my friends interviews people for MIT - it's been a year since he graduated so I think he is 23 (same age-group). From his point of view as long as you are dressed neatly, it's all good. When I had my interviews, way back, I always put a suit on but nowm looking back, I think it was an overkill. I'll interview people next year and I think if anyone would show up in a suit, it's think they made an effort, but not in the direction that matters :). I don't think GQ style is good either - you are not trying to make a fashion statement. If you are really worried, feel free to ask her, othervise dress neatly.


wear what you normally wear that doesnt have any pictures on it (ie no t's). if you don't she'll see right through it...college is about education not about kissing ass. it's not like interviewing for a job, they're just there to give admissions counselors a second opinion.


Any other suggestions?


Uh, yeah. Wear a buttondown shirt tucked in with a tie, minimum. Sportcoat if you have a nice one. Suit might be a little overkill. Whoever said not to dress up and that she'll "see right through it" is a moron.

You dress up to show respect for someone. The level to which she appreciates it is up to her, but she definitely isn't going to "see though it" and dock you points for looking nice.

By the way I am 22 and getting my Masters in Business, so that means I will eventually be in a position to interview and hire. If you showed up with a t-shirt to my office I'd walk you right back out the door.


I know the culture in America is a bit different from that in Britain, but I do think it is more about the content in the interview than what you wear.

When I looked around the univerisity that I went to I just wore jeans and a t-shirt. It somehow turned into an informal interview with the course leader.

Still got in!

Wear khakis and a polo, it looks smart enough, but isn't going overboard. Good luck.



By the way it has been shown that people perform better mentally when they are dressed up, and no, this isn't the end-all for you getting into college, but some schools are taking personal interviews more and more seriously. Columbia is a pretty high powered university, and it is in NY, so I would venture a guess that this gal would appreciate you looking nice.

See if you can get her # for me. If she asks, I'm your more attractive, better endowed, wealthier older brother.


khakis and a button down shirt or polo shirt is what I'd wear, but I'm a pimp you can check my stats.


Put the moves on her.


If there's a choice between being over-dressed and under-dressed, choose the former.

Tie and a sport-coat. And a nice SHINED pair of shoes. Girls notice shit like that.


I think a tucked in buttondown shirt without a tie with a pants or nicer jeans is the most flexible choice.

As for coming in in a t-shirt - I helped interview people for a company, and while a t-shirt might lessen the first impression, if the guy is qualified, it wouldn't matter in 5 minutes.


Of course. I meant in addition to this.

Current plan is dress shoes, khakis, an abercrombie sport shirt (white, blue pinstripes). It looks nice, but still a little bit relaxed. It's Oregon here, the governor works in a flannel shirt with jeans


From your description of the interviewer, it sounds like you need to dress business-granola.


So like an organic suit? Maybe I could build it out of soybeans.

My friend, after hearing about her, was like "Dude, make sure to mention gender roles at least twice in the conversation. Maybe a 'How did a girl like you ever get so involved with confusing science?'" I was like yeah, a good way to get myself shot.


I'd agree with that. Wear a tie. And probably a blazer, like he suggested.


Tie for sure - it's all about showing respect to your interviewer. If's she's far more underdressed than you, just casually take stuff off. She's going to rate you many times lower if you are underdressed than if you are overdressed.


Went. Took advice and got a tie. She was in really casual dress, like north face jacket, shirt, corduroy pants. I felt silly. Really cool lady though, interview went well, she said she'd give me a positive recommendation. Very down to earth, good time.


I bet you wore your sex panther, or was it London gentleman?


How did the moves go?