All of this Depends on the Overall Culture of the Place

Jill SodtThis interview is with Jill Sodt, the Learning Resources Center Coordinator at Black Hawk College, which is in a a rural area of the Midwestern US. Ms. Sodt says of her library:

The LRC is a place where all people who walk in our door are treated equally. We strive to offer a variety of services and events for students, staff, and faculty. We’ve expanded our collection to include DVD’s and a heavily used leisure reading collection. As a result, the number of people who walk through our door and check out our materials has increased. As a department, we continually evaluate ourselves and our services in order to improve.

She is proud to work with a staff that is creative and hard-working.  In her free time, Ms. Sodt is one of those knitting librarians.  She also likes to geocache, read, and play with her dogs. She’s currently developing her skills as a fiction writer. Ms. Sodt has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Yes, absolutely! It shows respect and professionalism.

Of course, I’ll add the caveat that it depends on the position. I wouldn’t expect someone applying for a job as a library page to wear a suit. But I do think it’s appropriate for an applicant seeking a professional librarian tenure-track position to wear a suit or something similar. The rule I follow is you dress one level above the position you are applying for.

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ Counts as a suit

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.

√ True

…unless you end up in an extremely hot room during the interview process. Generally, follow the cues of other people at the institution.

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

√ Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are inappropriate.

In general, I have no problems with bare legs in the workplace, but if you are going to wear a skirt or dress to an interview, please wear hose. If you aren’t comfortable in pantyhose, consider a nice pant suit.

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ I don’t care, as long as it’s not over-the-top.

So many women look fine without heavy make-up. A job interview at a more conservative workplace might not be the time to pull out the Cleopatra look.

Is there anything a candidate might wear that would cause them to be instantly out of the running? If you have any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits, we’d love to hear them.

There is likely to be at least one person in the room who will be easily distracted. I’m often that person. If you have odd piercings, unusual tattoos that are visible, or something else unique, I’m the person sitting there wanting to ask questions about that particular thing. While I am a professional and would not be inappropriate, I might also be missing what you are saying due to my wandering brain.

I remember an interview where the candidates clothing was extremely tight and very revealing. After her interview, the search committee ended up laughing about how difficult it was to actually look at her because you didn’t want to seem like you were staring down her shirt. All things equal, she was as qualified as another candidate. But the other candidate was selected because she was dressed more professionally.

Can you share any stories about how a candidate nailed the proper interview outfit, especially if your organization does not expect suits?

I’ve interviewed candidates for para-professional positions. The last person I hired wore a nice pair of dress pants and a sweater. It was a clean look, professional and appropriate for the position she was applying for, and she got the job. Of course, she had good qualifications as well, but the other candidate showed up in jeans.

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

√ Yes, the higher the position, the more formal I expect the candidate to dress

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

√ Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Clothing can be a distraction and candidates should be aware of that. While the ideal is a place that looks beyond clothing and hair, this is often the first thing people will notice and candidates need to be aware of how they present themselves. Sometimes a less-than-ideal appearance isn’t important when a candidate has other excellent points for them such as a stellar presentation. Also, in some places, a candidate with wildly colored hair, tattoos, and facial piercings may fit right in with the culture. All of this depends on the overall culture of the place where the candidate is interviewing.

What This Library Wears

How do you dress when you are going to conduct an interview?

I usually wear dress pants, a nice blouse, and a suit jacket. If it will be a day long interview with walking for tours, I try to wear dressy, but comfortable shoes. I keep jewelry to a minimum for lack of fussiness. Make-up is tasteful and hair is tidy and usually cut within a few days of the interview.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

√ Business casual

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code? Please check all that apply:

√ Visible Tattoos
√ Tank tops
√ Sneakers/trainers

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply:

√ Name tags

This survey was co-authored by Jill ofLibrarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!

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1 Comment

Filed under Academic, Midwestern US, Original Survey, Rural area

One response to “All of this Depends on the Overall Culture of the Place

  1. Interesting that she tries to cut her hair before conducting an interview – I feel more confident if my hair has been cut a few days before going on an interview. Probably, no one else could see a difference, but it makes me feel better.

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