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Do I Need to Wear a Suit to a Teaching Interview?

by Nicole Vulcan, studioD

Wearing a suit in your kindergarten classroom is a sure-fire way to ensure that your expensive outfit is swiftly covered with chalk -- but we're not talking about your day-to-day activities here. When it comes to the job interview, you have to step up your appearance a notch or two. Even when a school has a reputation for being progressive, it's still best to look professional for your job interview, according to Scholastic.com. Upscale attire, including a suit, is usually more than acceptable for a job interview, but your best bet is to do a little research before the big day.

It's better to be overdressed than overly casual

Check out what the other teachers are wearing. If you're applying at a college or even some high schools, it may be perfectly acceptable to tour the campus and peek in on the normal attire of your future co-workers. Other schools' Facebook pages or websites may give you an indication of what the teachers wear on a normal day. If you're applying at a private school or a professional trade school, the teachers may wear suits or upscale prep attire on a regular basis, which is a good indication that you should do the same for your interview.

Read over your job interview information. In your excitement about landing the interview, you may have overlooked the portion of the letter that talked about what to wear. Review it again. If the information says that suits or "business" attire is encouraged, err on the side of caution and make sure your best suit has been dry-cleaned or pressed.

Try to get some inside information from people you know who are affiliated with the school. Ask friends who teach or have taught there, parents, or other current or former staff members what the culture is like there and the level of professionalism the leadership team expects from its staff.

Don't choose an ill-fitting suit when you have another outfit that looks better and helps you feel more confident.That could mean a suit, but a mid-calf skirt and well-pressed blouse or a nice pair of dress pants for women, or a button-up shirt and tie for men, can look equally professional. That is, unless a suit is "recommended" or "advised" in the interview information. Another piece of advice: Don't choose something that is so formal or uncomfortable that you can't concentrate on delivering good responses to the interview questions, advises school principal Curt Rees.

Items you will need
  •  Resume
  •  Professional references


  • If you're not sure whether what you're wearing is appropriate, get some help, suggests private school consultant Robert Knox Kennedy. Ask one of your old professors or a colleague to look over your outfit and give you feedback on how you look.

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images