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Change to an Informal Interview Dress Code Improves Residency Applicant Perceptions


Introduction: Residency interview apparel has traditionally been the dark business suit. We changed the interview dress code from a traditionally established unwritten ‘formal’ attire to an explicitly described ‘informal’ attire. We sought to assess if the change in dress code attire changed applicants’ perceptions of the residency program or decreased costs.

Methods: The authors conducted an anonymous survey of applicants applying to one emergency medicine residency program during two application cycles ending in 2012 and 2013. Applicants were asked if the change in dress code affected their perception of the program, comfort level, overall costs and how it affected their rank lists.

Results: We sent the survey to 308 interviewed applicants over two years. Of those, 236 applicants completed the survey for a combined response rate of 76.6% (236/308). Among respondents, 85.1% (200 of 235) stated they appreciated the change; 66.7% (154 of 231) stated the change caused them to worry more about what to wear. Males were more uncomfortable than females due to the lack of uniformity on the interview day (18.5% of males [25/135] vs. 7.4% of females [7/95], collapsed results p-value 0.008). A total of 27.7% (64/231) agreed that the costs were less overall. The change caused 50 of 230 (21.7%) applicants to rank the program higher on their rank list and only one applicant to rank the program lower.

Conclusion: A change to a more informal dress code resulted in more comfort and fewer costs for applicants to a single residency program. The change also resulted in some applicants placing the program higher on their rank order list. [West J Emerg Med. 2015;16(1):-0.]


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