A Fun Print Dress with a Solid Color cardigan is Always a Winner

Smiling Business Woman Arms Crossed


This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a city/town in the Midwestern US.  This librarian 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?

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

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ Is totally different

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

√ Other: I think sleeveless tops are pushing it a bit too far, but a tasteful cap sleeve or short sleeve is ok.

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

√ No, but it’s not a dealbreaker

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: Just like clothes, should look put together and professional, but also natural

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.

Jeans – we interview a lot of college students for our page/clerk position, and many come in wearing clothes a step up from jeans, so the applicant has to be really awesome for us to look past jeans. It’s an easy way to narrow down the field. Unfortunately, I have no funny stories! I wish I did!

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

No stories but I read the blog Academichic and turned to that for my own interview wear. Pretty much anything on that website would qualify as proper interview attire. Unique accessories make people memorable and let them express themselves a bit – so throw on a coordinating scarf or fun earrings, by all means. A fun print dress with a solid color cardigan is always a winner.

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
√ Nose Ring (nostril)
√ Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Large gauge ear jewelry (stretched ears)
√ Other: Nothing is an instant dealbreaker for me, as long as it is tasteful and neat.

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ Natural colors (black, brown, red, blonde, gray)

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Show personality

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

It must be tasteful and neat in all cases. Seeing a little bit of personality is always nice, whether it is shown through accessories or use of color. I like to see someone who is comfortable (if you’re not comfortable wearing heels, don’t wear them!) and confident in what they wear and who is a bit expressive.

What This Library Wears

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

I typically wear a polo or button down with my library’s logo, a sweater (it’s always freezing in the library), and trousers or a skirt. If it’s summer, usually a dress and the ever-present sweater.

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

√ N/A: We wear what we want!
√ Other: We have staff from 18-65 here and everyone has a different idea. We are moving toward a dressier workplace, but our college students tend to dress down a bit more. Nothing is off limits unless it is sloppy or tasteless.

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√ Name tags
√ Other: We have shirts and jackets with our logo embroidered as an option of what to wear, but this isn’t the only thing we can wear.

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

Photo: Stockimages on FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, What Should Candidates Wear?

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