Attire for Non-Vet-School Interviews

I’ve seen a few postings on the APVMA Facebook group about people wanting advice for how to dress for an interview other than for vet school.  I think this is a great question and I will open with my opinion that there probably isn’t a single right answer.

What does attire during an interview say about the applicant?  Possibly the most important thing it says is, “Do you understand the cultural norms of this industry?”  Veterinary medicine is still a fairly conservative industry- hence the suits for vet school interviews.  However, non-academic positions may have different expectations.  Throughout this post I will use words like formal and informal as relative indicators of attire, rather than their official use for western dress codes (which are probably not what you think- check out the Wiki article).

If at all possible, visit the practice/business to get a sense for how the current staff dress and what the appearance of the business is.  Do they have a uniform dress code (more formal)?  Do the men wear ties (more formal)?  Is anyone wearing a suit (most formal)?  Is anyone in a T-shirt (informal)?  Are they wearing slacks (most formal), khakis (less formal), or jeans (informal)?  This will give you a general sense for the business culture.

Here are the ‘levels’ I will use throughout.  I don’t believe a T-shirt is ever acceptable in an interview- feel free to disagree in the comments!  Here is my very general guide for attire for positions.

Most Formal

Men: Suit & tie; slacks

Women: Pantsuit or skirt suit

Formal

Men: Long-sleeve shirt with tie; a sport coat can substitute for a tie; slacks or khakis

Women: Slacks, khakis, or plain skirt; long-sleeve blouse; may wear a jacket with a short-sleeve or sleeveless top

Informal

Men: Long-sleeve shirt, khakis

Women: Long-sleeve shirt, khakis or plain skirt

Least Formal

Button down shirt, jeans

Full-time technician, receptionist, or equivalent

In-hospital: Most Formal or Formal

Ambulatory large animal/equine: Formal or Informal

Extern, volunteer, part-time technician, etc.

In-hospital: Formal or Informal

Ambulatory large animal/equine: Informal or Least Formal

It’s hard to go wrong just wearing a long-sleeve shirt and tie and khakis for men and blouse with khakis or skirt for women.  Also realize it depends on your own personal level of formality and how you carry yourself.  Some people feel more comfortable in more formal clothing, others feel more comfortable in less formal clothing.  As long as you stay within a reasonable range, I think it should be fine.

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