So you got an interview for Physical or Occupational Therapy school, but you’re not sure what to wear. Fortunately, you’re a guy and don’t have to think too much.
Being male, will also help you stand out as most PTs and OTs tend to be female, but since most women tend to do better academically, you still need to be prepared and dress the part.
That means, wearing a suit, tie, and being conservative in dress and appearance. If you can pull off the James Bond look, you probably don’t need to keep reading, but for everyone else, keep scrolling.
Why you should wear a suit
Wearing a suit to your PT or OT school interview shows that you’re serious about your interview and it’s a sign of respect. When I interviewed for OT school, there was one person who didn’t wear a suit.
He stood out like a sore thumb, and sure enough, he didn’t make the cut. Don’t make the mistake of not wearing a suit to your interview, because first impressions are everything.
What type of suit should you wear?
You might want to stand out in your interview, but don’t try to stand out wearing bright colors.
The dress code for interviews is always conservative.
If you want to stand out in your style, show it in your tie or socks, but try not to be too radical. In general, You should try to dress like you’re going to a funeral but in style.
What color suit?
Colors should be conservative. This can include black, charcoal, navy, or gray. You can also go for a dark maroon, but don’t over do it.
Avoid bright colors or khakis, and stick to the James Bond look.
What about the shoes?
Your shoes should match your suit. Black, gray, and charcoal suits usually go with black dress shoes. Blue or navy pants go with brown or maroon dress shoes.
Socks always match the pants, but there are some exceptions with colors. I try to go for a sock that’s a little darker than my pants. Wearing a gray suit? Wear dark gray or black socks. What color socks go with a Navy suit? Navy socks.
If you match your socks to your pants, you’ll never go wrong.
What dress shirt should you wear?
I would recommend wearing a white button up shirt with minimal distractions. Keep it clean and simple. It’s not uncommon to see a light blue shirt under a suit, but it’s not my preference.
Have your clothes pressed
Don’t wear a wrinkled suit or shirt to an interview. If you have time, take your Suit, pants, and shirt to be pressed. Take them to your local dry cleaner or iron/steam them yourself.
I’ve taken ties to a dry cleaner but haven’t had the best of luck. I would recommend buying a new tie just for your interview.
Belts always match shoe color. Enough said.
What if I can’t afford to buy a new suit?
If you have an old suit, try doing whatever you can to make it clean, pressed, and free from scuffs. If it doesn’t fit right, take it to a tailor. If it still doesn’t fit right or you can’t get the stains out, just buy a new suit. OT school is expensive, and an extra $300 suit won’t add much more to the total cost.
I had a 3 year old suit before my OT interview but bought a brand new suit that fit better. First impressions are part of scoring well in an interview, so make this one count.
Budget Suit options
In general, try to be as clean cut as possible. If you have a beard, make sure it’s well trimmed. I would suggest using beard oils to avoid stray hairs. If all else fails, make a trip to a barber before your interview.
Keep accessories to a minimum. A nice watch will show class, but I would avoid a smart watch unless it looks sophisticated.
A lapel pocket handkerchief is another nice accessory but not necessary. And cuff links are too over the top for an interview.
What else should I bring to the interview?
Be the guy with an extra pen and bring a notepad in case you need it.
And make sure you bring multiple copies of your résumé.
Preparing for an PT or OT interview can be stressful, so don’t make it more stressful when deciding on what to wear. I hope this was helpful. Be sure to check out my other post on what therapists wear to work.
David is the lead editor of OT Focus. He has been practicing as an Occupational Therapist since 2013. He specializes in acute care, hand therapy, and ergonomics.