He …Had Ironed his Jeans and T-shirt and Polished His Shoes

business man



This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee.  This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area of the Midwestern United States.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Yes, absolutely! It shows respect and professionalism

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?

√ Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are inappropriate

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

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

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.

Looking totally disheveled or wearing dirty clothing would make me not consider the candidate. For woman, anything too sexually suggestive or revealing.

I attended an interview presentation where the candidate’s suitcase got lost in transit. His flight was delayed and got in at midnight and he had to be on campus at 8:30 am (so unable to go shopping for appropriate clothing). He showed up in the jeans and t-shirt that he flew in. He was showered and had ironed his jeans and t-shirt and polished his shoes. Despite this unexpected development he was clean and remained calm and collected.

I have seen others who never bothered to get their suit dry cleaned and the dribbles and wrinkles were distracting and totally unattractive.

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
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Earrings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

A candidate showed up for an interview for an hourly support staff position. He had a white long sleeved shirt on and jeans. The shirt’s tails were hanging out, his sleeves were rolled up and both his shirt and pants were full of stains and wrinkled. He did quite well in the interview, but his physical first impression was one of that he didn’t care. I found out that he had shared with one of my staff members that he was working at at coffee shop and had come straight from his early morning shift. I think he should have brought another shirt with him, even if it was a polo, but something clean and ironed. He didn’t get the job.

I had another candidate for an hourly support staff position who showed up for an interview in bib overalls, with one side hanging down, a baseball cap on sideways, which he did not remove, and numerous piercings. His tongue piercing was so distracting that I could not concentrate on what he was saying during the interview. He also asked me what time and date he was starting. Needless to say, he did not get the job.

What This Library Wears

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

If it is for a librarian, I would wear a suit. If it is for an hourly staff member, probably a skirt and jacket.

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: A step up from business casual. Men wear ties.

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

√ Flip flops
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans
√ Sneakers/trainers

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√ Name tags

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

Photo: Andy Newson on FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Midwestern US, Suburban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

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