The Second Day He Wore More Casual Pants (Not Jeans)

Business Woman by a Window by Flickr user Victor1558



This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian from an urban area of the Western US.  This librarian works at a library with 100-200 staff members, and 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?

√ 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.

√ False

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

√ Other: Yes, but it’s not a dealbreaker

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.

If the clothes are wrinkled. If the candidate wears shorts. No sandals on men. I once was hiring our new library director. His first interview day, he wore a suit and dress shoes, but the second day he wore more casual pants (not jeans), a sweater, and sneakers. I was pretty surprised, but he got the job. His predecessor, a woman, rarely wore a dress the whole time she was the library director and certainly didn’t at her interview, but she was a very fine library director.

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

At a previous library, I rarely had women interview in dresses/skirts. As long as they looked professional, pants were fine. They all turned out to be wonderful librarians. In hiring a Special Collections Librarian, only 1 of the 4 interviewees was in a skirt. The person I hired as an Acquisitions Manager wore a very simple, lovely black dress to her interview and probably never wore a dress again for the 10 years she worked at the library. I’m not sure she owned another dress.

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

√ No

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
√ All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on
√ 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: doesn’t matter to me

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

I do notice what the candidates wear, and it does affect the decision, if two candidates are of equal qualifications. The qualifications/experience/intelligence/aticulateness are what count most. Technical services might make less of a difference than public service, since most tech services staff are behind the scenes. A public/school librarian also may be judged differently than an academic librarian. The public librarian’s clientele may be less comfortable with pink hair/multiple piercings/arty dress than the students/faculty who are the clientele in an academic library.

What This Library Wears

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

I always have worn a suit and stockings. My suits are not the pinstriped variety and are usually colorful, but I would never interview in slacks. It gives the interviewee an understanding that I expect a professional demeanor and I take the interview seriously.

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: There does not seem to be a dress code. I almost always wear a dress/skirt, but other women mostly wear jeans, and there’s everything in between.

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!

Do you have any other comments, or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

I think gender makes a difference, for both the interviewer and the interviewee. If you can parse out what the appropriate clothing is for male and female interviewers and interviewees, think it would be easier. Do men need to wear suits, or would a shirt/tie/slacks be enough? You asked about stockings for women but didn’t ask much about men other than suits.

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

Business Woman by a Window by Flickr user Victor1558

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Urban area, Western US, What Should Candidates Wear?

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