In a few weeks I am interviewing for a PhD in psychology. I currently work as an adjunct professor at the school, so a number of staff members are already familiar with me. I was planning on a grey blazer and black slacks, with a sublte black and grey check pattern shirt, and I thought a paisley tie might overcome the subdued nature and go well with the check pattern. I have a silver on silver wide paisley pattern, very subtle. What do you think, too garish? I'd like to have a little bit of character in the outfit while keeping the color palette fairly subdued and conservative.
Paisley tie for grad school interview?
I don't really love any of that, but I also think that interviewing for a PhD is likely to set the bar pretty low as far as attire is concerned (at least in terms of how reviewers will appreciate/concern themselves with it). Unless, of course, you're doing a PhD in fashion or trends or something!
Assuming that you keep the jacket and trousers (though, again, I don't love them, they should be "OK"), I would change the shirt and/or the tie. If you really want to wear that tie, go with a plain shirt. If you do keep the jacket and trousers, I would suggest a light colored, plain shirt (probably a light blue) and a reppe stripe tie with two colors on it.
I've interviewed a lot in higher education (both sides of the table as an academic and Director of Stuff) and when I interviewed PhD candidates, I can say that it's the least I've cared about someone's attire in an interview. It would be different if you were interviewing for a job, in my mind, where I would be looking for a slightly higher standard of dress.
Anyway, if you gave us what else was in your wardrobe (jackets, trousers, shirts, ties), the collective could probably create something better.
I applied to and was accepted to one of the top departments
in my field without my ever meeting any one. I only visited the campus to
decide whether I would attend. This was in the 70s and the "slobification"
at elite universiries was already underway.
No real insight from me, other than to say the obvious "it depends". Different programs, even in the same university can have different requirements. We interview our MBAs here and most of us won't take on a PhD student without some form of face-to-face discussion, though it's not formalized.
The selection of PhDs at a previous university/discipline/country I worked in had a very rigorous application process for PhDs which culminated with a short interview, but there was no interview at all for Master's students.