What to Wear: Dressing for Your Private School Interview

Planning to visit a few private schools this summer? While you are out on the road, you may wish to schedule your interviews now so you can focus on completing your applications next fall. Whether you know 100% that you are going to apply or not, taking the time to interview with an admission officer is great practice for honing your one-on-one conversational skills and learning more about the private school you are visiting. Interviewing is also a great way to find out if the school is a good fit for your personality—and vice versa.

Demonstrating who you really are is critical to pulling of a successful interview. Many students feel comfortable wearing a more formal look to demonstrate professionalism, opting for a skirt and blouse or khaki pants with a shirt and tie. So how should you dress in this scenario if your personality is typically artsy, laid-back, or anything other than the “standard prep school” look you assume admission officers are looking for? Here are some tips for dressing up for an interview while allowing your personality to paint the bigger picture.

Many prospective students wear comfortable yet professional outfits to admission interviews.
  1. Be comfortable! Don’t force yourself into a suit on a hot summer’s day if it truly makes you miserable, sweaty, or uncomfortable. It can feel intimidating enough going into an interview scenario, and the last thing you need to worry about is not being able to breath. Dress weather-appropriate, comfortably and tidy. A wrinkle-free shirt and pants—with a few key tuck-ins—can really go a long way if you aren’t the suit and tie type.
  2. Avoid looking too comfortable. Perhaps you wear jeans, sweats or tank tops most days, but it’s important to present yourself as ‘motivated’ and ‘attentive’ in the interview scenario. While you aren’t applying for a job, you are applying for a new high school career, and you should aim to present yourself as a mature student who is academically driven—so think the opposite of what you might wear on the couch while relaxing at home.
  3. Add elements of your personality to your more formal look. If you don’t usually wear khakis, skirts, or blazers, but decide to wear one for your interview, consider adding a few signature pieces that indicate your true style, like an AC/DC tie (they exist, we checked) or an artsy scarf or earrings. These small but powerful style-pieces may actually lead to a deeper conversation about who you really are!
  4. Call ahead and ask! No need to beat around the bush—if you have any question in your mind about what is appropriate to wear, send an e-mail or call your admission officer and ask what type of dress is expected of you during your visit—chances are, you will be told to dress comfortably and to just be yourself!

At the end of the day, looking polished is a sign of respect to your interviewers and says that you care about the impression you make—and that you’d love to attend the school. But trust us—what you say means much more that what you wear. Be authentic, curious, and proud of who you are, and the rest will fall into place!

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