Full-on Personality Dressing Should Be Reserved for Your Free Time

Business Woman by D. Clow

Business Woman by Flickr user D. Clow


This anonymous interview is with a person who is in human resources at a public library with more than 200 staff members in an urban area of the Midwestern United States. When asked “Are you a librarian?” this person replied “It’s complicated.”


What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Probably, yes (but it’s ok if the candidate wears something a little less formal)

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ Counts as a suit

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

√ True

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

√ Other: depends on season and frankly, how her legs look. If they don’t look great, they should be covered somehow in a way that makes them look good, neat, tidy, clean

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: again, depends. what is the comfort level, a natural look is very appealing, but more makeup can look great, if done well

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.

anything that shows cleavage is a problem for me as interviewer. it shows a lack of good judgment/planning/preparation

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
√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ Other: depends on the whole package. can’t dismiss pink out of hand depending on job and the rest of the outfit, makeup and jewelry

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: restrained personality. full on personality dressing should be reserved for your free time

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

It guides the first impression, so the key is to make sure that how you have chosen to represent yourself is positive or neutral.

I am very conscious of my own biases and personal tastes because I interview all the time, but the interview team is usually comprised of at least a few who interview only rarely. I need to help them balance their biases and personal tastes, but that can be hard when the first impression is negative. The candidate who creates a negative first impression has to really knock em dead in the interview conversation in order to make up for that.

What This Library Wears

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

always wear a nice jacket, a heeled/closed toe shoe, small amount of jewelry, neutral makeup and natural hair color

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


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

√ Jeans
√ Flip flops
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans
√ Sneakers/trainers
√ Other: Cleavage

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√ Badges
√ Uniforms

Do you have any other comments?

I hate to hear from staff, “the public doesn’t care what we wear.” Well, sure, the public is not protesting the attire of our staff, but part of that is because our staff presents itself well. Unfortunately, I don’t know that that would be true without a dress code. Also, there seems to be resistance to the concept that we are judged by our appearance. Sorry, folks, it’s true. How together we look as a staff does influence (subconsciously or not) how we are perceived by our customers. If we want to inspire confidence and appear competent, we should dress that way. My rule of thumb is if you would wear it to a picnic or to wash your car, it’s too casual for this type of work setting.

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

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

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