Ask MSURJ: What do you wear to a lab interview?

Members of the editorial board answer questions about life in the lab, research, and everything in between.

Farah: Dress shirt, dress pants, maybe a tie and a blazer (depends on the formality)

Kate: I wore a blue button-down and khakis with black flats to my first ever lab interview. For my current lab I wore snowboots, jeans, and a blue button-down under a grey sweater and still got in. I had an (unsuccessful) interview for a paid lab gig two summers ago, wore another blue button-down, khakis, black cardigan, flats. I’d always, always, always err on the side of more-professional if possible. If it wasn’t a mess outside the day of my last interview, there would not have been snowboots  involved.

Grad student from Kate’s lab: Usually for things like this, being casual is fine, but if you want to set yourself apart, step it up slightly. Maybe a sweater vest with a dress shirt, or something professional.  Maybe a power blazer.Labinterview

Irene: I don’t remember what I wore, but my interview was during an incubation break in BIOC 300D lab so it can’t have been more than jeans and a shirt. The best idea is to pay attention to how your PI dresses themselves; there are some more business-oriented profs who might appreciate some neatness.

Janine: Dark skirt (knee length- 2” above), dark tights, blouse, heels, rimmed glasses, non-digital watch, good luck charm.

Yuhao: Dress shirt, not white. No tie. Slacks. Add tie if interview is clearly going to be very formal — blue preferred. (Attempt to tie it with an inward fold in the front, sort of like the way Obama ties his tie… though my success rate is <1%, need to work on that.) Hold a document folder in my left hand, usually dark-coloured.

Ariana: Just keep it simple. Black plants, white blouse, blazer. Heels or flats (your call). And keep the makeup basic yet flattering.
Elaine: All of my interviews have actually been really informal. I tend to go in nice jeans and a sweater (don’t go wearing cutoffs and/or pajamas), because PI’s have usually just requested a quick meeting, so I’ve normally not gone with the stuffy dress-up getup. And it’s never been a problem. MOST important though is to show up ON TIME.
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