Does Your Appearance Situate You to Lead a Faculty Committee?

job interview 2 by flickr user rileyroxx


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 in an urban area of the Midwestern US, at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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?

√ No, but it’s not a dealbreaker

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.

-Wrinkled outfit (did you sleep in it?)

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

-Maroon fitted suit jacket with coordinating trousers and a chic scarf

-On a rainy interview day, one candidate wore a ladies’ professional trench coat and carried an umbrella.

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
√ All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

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?

Candidates need to wear clothing that is appropriate for the meetings and clientele with whom they will work. Does your appearance situate you to lead a faculty committee? Could you rush over to the admin building on a Tuesday morning and answer the university president’s questions about journal inflation? Or, if you work in a public library, would your appearance situate you to dash into an impromptu meeting with the library council and advocate for a new reading program? Show me!!!

What This Library Wears

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

I wear professional business dress, a little more formal than every day wear. I wear a ladies suit or a business dress outfit.

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

√ Flip flops
√ Visible Tattoos
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans
√ Other: uncovered shoes (sandals, etc), denim (in some places), clothes that show the mid-section, cleavage, frayed clothes, poor personal hygiene

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√ Badges

Do you have any other comments?

1) It’s an unspoken rule, but library administrators and high-level mid-managers have higher dress and hygiene standards than the lower-ranking librarians and paraprofessional staff. Administrators and managers all wear “Dillards/Nordstroms/Coldwater Creek/Borck Brothers” type attire.

2) All female administrators at this university wear professional make-up, color and style their hair regularly, and just always look really put-together. Men usually wear long-sleeved oxford shirts (even in the summer) and similarly look ‘put-together’.

3) Men, don’t wear gold chains or jewelry, especially to an interview. (A wedding or class ring would be an exception).

3) Put the whole outfit together. Shoes should be polished and match the ensemble. Briefcases, handbags, leather notebooks, jewelry, (and in winter or on rainy days- scarves, gloves, boots, hats, etc.) should all “go” together and be professional.

4) Go with more professional and conservative colors. You don’t have to wear just black and navy, but don’t put on coral pink and turquoise.

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

Photo: job interview 2 by flickr user rileyroxx

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

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