What you choose to wear to your nursing interview really is extremely important because within seconds of stepping into the room, the interviewers have formed an instant impression of you. Based on what? Your presentation.
What to Wear to Your Nursing Interview: Wear Something Forgettable
Your outfit should be forgettable, and you should be memorable. Your clothes must not distract in any way.
Jason, a young man I interviewed once, wore a shirt and a tie but the shirt was too tight at the neck. It made me uncomfortable. To this day, that’s my only memory of him and his interview.
On the west coast, a tie may be a bit too dressed for a man in a nursing interview, but an open-necked dress shirt, sports jacket and crisp “dress” khakis are never wrong.
Jasmine, a young, strikingly beautiful woman wore a white button-down shirt. White, crisp, button-down dress shirts for women can be beautiful and professional, but hers was slightly yellowed and mildly wrinkled. I couldn’t fathom why she would not be more careful in her appearance when her future was at stake. And that’s what I spent the whole interview thinking about.
Was she messaging that she scorned the interview process? She seemed authentic and very nice. Incongruent. Was she truly unaware of how to dress? If so, that begs the question about her upbringing, and then I felt sad for her. Or was it an indicator that she’d be overly casual in her work? These were the thoughts that went through my mind, none of which gained her any points.
What to Wear to Your Nursing Interview: Style
Your clothing should be neat, clean, and pressed (dry-cleaned is always a good tip). Simple and classic is better than trendy. Simple is better than trying too hard.
Avoid anything that could say evening wear, such as dramatic, dangling earrings or low cut tops. No cleavage. When wearing a sleeveless top or dress, a cover of some sort is a good idea. The rule of 3’s, as in 3-piece outfit, is good. Wear a skirt or pants, a top, and then add a jacket or nice sweater. Three pieces says put together and co-ordinated and takes a simple 2-piece outfit to the next level.
You know how good you feel the day you get your hair done? Consider getting your hair blown out the day of your interview. You will look your best and feel confident.
Go for a polished, lightly made-up face.
What to Wear to Your Nursing Interview: Pro Tip
Here’s a tip that seemingly contradicts the first tip. Do wear one item that is memorable. It could be a unique pin or brooch (in itself, a brooch is unusual). Why? At the end of a long day of panel interviews, the interviewers compare the applicants. Honestly, it’s possible to have trouble recalling each person accurately, even with notes.
What applicant A said blurs with what applicant B said. But if someone says “the girl with the bumble bee pin, you know, Ashley,”, Ashley is suddenly and accurately recognizable to all. Not only that, everything she said was easily retrievable.
What to Wear to Your Nursing Interview: No Luxury Dressing
A nursing interview is not the place to wear a Louis Vitton handbag or clothing with a prominent Gucci logo. When you are interviewing for a job that requires empathy, kindness and trustworthiness, leave off the luxury items. Luxury items will accord you higher social status, but less warmth.
What to Wear to Your Nursing Interview: No Wardrobe Malfunctions
Check for wardrobe malfunctions and test for wearability. Your button-down blouse may not gap between the buttons while standing in front of your mirror, but it may gap in a strategic spot when you move or re-position. Likewise, a short skirt may be acceptable when standing, but may need tugging down when sitting. Self-grooming during an interview is not recommended.
What to Wear to Your Nursing Interview: No Scrubs
Sometimes it’s tempting to wear scrubs. Some will say “I wore scrubs and I got the job” in defense of wearing scrubs to an interview. I would say they got the job despite wearing scrubs.
You may be working the day of your interview. You may have outgrown your “church-level” clothing and you may even just have a wardrobe full of jeans and T shirts plus scrubs, nothing you can really put together for an interview.
But there’s no acceptable reason for wearing scrubs to a professional interview. Bring a change of clothing if you must interview on a day you are working, but better yet, schedule your interview for a day you are off.
In life, we respectfully dress for events that are important, such as weddings and church and funerals. Your job interview is highly important.
One last tip- read my book below for tons of practical, effective job search tips. Did you know that if you attach a business card of yourself with your picture to your portfolio (never as part of your resume), the hiring manager will remember you more frequently than the other applicants?
Good luck in your interviews!