Show Professional Personality

Young Professional Smiling



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 city/town in the Southern US.


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.

√ I don’t care

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

√ Other: Doesn’t matter, but if I noticed, it would be points in favor

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: Professional grooming (whether it includes makeup or not) shows you care

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 looks appropriate for the club is not interview appropriate. I’ve had female applicants show up in stilletto heels, short skirts, plunging necklines, choker necklaces with enormous bling, etc. Keep it understated! For gentleman, cleanliness and a tie, at the very least.

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)

√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Other: Facial piercings should be small if worn for an interview

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: Show professional personality

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Showing some personality is great, as long as the overall effect is professional. I work in an academic library, and we are faculty members. If it isn’t appropriate for a meeting with our provost it isn’t interview appropriate. Our on campus environment is fairly formal, and if someone can’t dress up for an interview, I have doubts about their ability to dress appropriately for work.

What This Library Wears

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

Slacks/skirt, blouse/collared shirt, and professional jewelry. If I am the chair of the committee, I may pair a blazer or other more “professional” jacket with that look.

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
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans
√ Sneakers/trainers
√ Other: Jeans/logos/sneakers are okay on weekends

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: photostock on

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

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