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How to stand out in an interview (in a good way)

It’s that time of year!! Interview season has commenced. So you’ve passed the personality assessment for pre employment
and the employer has invited you in for an interview. This means you want to make sure you are prepared in all capacities, including your outfit. You probably have asked yourself at one point, “How can I stand out?” or “What will set me apart from the other candidates”? There is nothing wrong with standing out and making a great initial impression, you just want to make sure you do it in the right way. One area you don’t want to overlook is selecting the perfect interview outfit. With the help of District 4 ASDA members, I put together some awesome choices and examples of standing out in a positive way. Hopefully after reading this post, we can steer your wardrobe in the right direction.

Make sure your clothes are tailored and neatly dry cleaned

Whatever you decide to wear for your interview, always make sure your clothes fit you appropriately and are pressed. Nothing will irritate your interviewer more than seeing a candidate with ill-fitting and wrinkled clothing. A week or two before your interview, try on your interview outfit to make sure it fits appropriately. Clothes that are too tight or don’t fit could make a fabulous outfit look really bad and possibly leave a bad taste in your interviewer’s mouth.

Reinvent the traditional black and white

Deja #1Deja #2When you think about dressing professionally, people naturally gravitate towards the traditional black bottom with black jacket and white top. Don’t get me wrong, the classic black and white is still in. The key is how you decide to rock it! Take Deja Alexander, a D2 from University of North Carolina School of Dentistry who is known for always bringing a new flair to the way she wears her professional clothing. Note that in both pictures, Deja’s outfits are exhibiting the use of conservative colors but are worn in two different ways.

In the picture to the left, she wears a simple black and white dress. She accessorizes with a nice necklace, a watch, and a simple black heel. In the picture on the right, Deja is wearing a black and white striped top with tapered black pants accessorizing with a soft pink heel and a bold necklace. If this is a little too casual for you, then try throwing on a black or even a colored blazer with your outfit.

No Jacket? No problem!

CardiganA nice black blazer should be an essential item in everyone’s closet. However, if you do don’t have one, there are other things that you can wear to look professional. Take for instance, myself, in the picture on the left. Wearing a jacket with this top is, in my opinion, distracting. So I took it off and accessorized the outfit with some nice jewelry. If you don’t like having your arms out, cardigans or a nice long sleeve shirt works as well.



Don’t be afraid of bold prints and colors!

Elizabeth AlstonIf you are into prints and bright colors, those are great options as well. Elizabeth Alston, a D3 from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry, does a great job with wearing prints the right way. Just put a black or a solid color jacket to tone down the prints and use minimal accessories such as pearl earrings. You don’t want your interviewer to only remember what you are wearing instead of who you are as an applicant.


Guys, don’t be afraid to spice it up

Terrence CampbellGuys – you too can stand out using soft prints, subtle patterns and colors to add flair to the typical suit and tie! Terrence Campbell, a D3 from East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine, serves as an excellent example on how to balance prints and colors nicely. Notice how he is wearing a nice navy blue suit that is tailored to his body. Also, notice how he strayed away from the typical white top and accompanied his outfit with a blue striped top, a soft gold tie, and brown shoes. Using colors and prints (the right way) will demonstrate to your interviewee that you are a professional candidate with a great sense of style.


Stay away from distracting items

What Not to WearHave you ever heard the saying “Not all attention is good attention”? Tight skirts, dresses, or pants can garner the wrong type of attention that you don’t want during your interview. Guys – those cool ties with designs and cartoon characters are great but too much can send the wrong message. Ladies – this applies to make up as well. Interview day is probably not the best day to wear your boldest lip color. Try to keep makeup to a minimum. Light blush and nude or lip colored lipsticks are perfect for interviews. As you can see pictured, Elizabeth is wearing all types of distracting items: open toe shoes, six-inch heels, bright lipstick, and a very short dress. It may be extreme but all of these are things you want to stay away from during interview day.

Express yourself

Many fashion experts recommend the conservative approach when it comes to dressing for an interview. Although I somewhat agree with them, I also believe that how you dress should reflect your personality. Therefore, if you’re a fun and creative person, show it in your style. If you struggle finding ways to be creative with items you already have in your closet, check out websites such as Pinterest for more ideas. Just be mindful not to be too extreme with your creativity, as you are interviewing for a professional residency (or dental school) position.

No matter where you are in life, you should always be prepared for an interview. Next time you are preparing for your interview, try stepping out of your comfort zone and I guarantee you will make a lasting first impression.

~ LaJoi Wiggins, East Carolina ’17, District 4 trustee

LaJoi Wiggins

LaJoi E. Wiggins, East Carolina '17, is a PGY-1 resident at the Virginia Commonwealth University pediatric dentistry program, where she is pursuing a Master of Science in dentistry, a certificate in pediatric dentistry and a certificate in neurodevelopmental disabilities. Immediately following graduation, she started a one-year GPR at Oklahoma University (OU) Medical Center, where she trained at The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center and the OKC VA Health Care System.

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  1. Andrea Sauerwein says:

    Great article LaJoi! These are awesome tips for busy dental students trying to get interview outfits together!

  2. LaJoi Wiggins says:

    Thanks Andrea! Hopefully we will get to see each other real soon.

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