I Wouldn’t Advise a Job Candidate to Take Chances with an Out-of-the-Ordinary Wardrobe

business lady with diary

This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee.  This librarian works in an urban area of the Western United States, at a library with 200+ staff members.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Other: I don’t care if they show up in a suit, but they definitely should not be dressed casually.

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ I do not know and/or care

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

√ Other: I think it’s okay in the summer as long as the candidate is carrying a suit jacket and otherwise dressed appropriately.

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

√ Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are inappropriate

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ I don’t care what’s on the face, it’s what’s in the brain that counts

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.

athletic shoes

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
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Other: depends on person, position, reason, and how people in the hiring institution dress

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: Show personality, but in a toned-down way

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Probably the least important factor. The substance (knowledge of subject area) and style (e.g., show of confidence) on display at interviews and during the presentation count much, much more.

What This Library Wears

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

Depends on the weather. I don’t like suits — they aren’t me — but I like skirts and dresses. I always wear tights and nice shoes.

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?

√ Other: we don’t have one

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!

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√ Other: none of the above, although we’ve requested some kind of tag or badge that identifies us as librarians

Do you have any other comments?

In this economy, and with library jobs so scarce, I wouldn’t advise a job candidate to take chances with an out-of-the-ordinary wardrobe. Instead, dazzle with your knowledge, experience, enthusiasm, and forward-looking approach to the job.

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

Photo: sippakorn on FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Filed under 200+ staff members, Academic, Urban area, Western US, What Should Candidates Wear?

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