Note: It is Possible to Integrate Personality into a Professional, Mostly Neutral Outfit!

ready to go by Flickr user apes_abroad

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee.  This librarian works in a city/town in the Midwestern US, at a library with 10-50 staff members.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Probably, yes (but it’s ok if the candidate wears something a little less formal)

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?

√ 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.


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
√ 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)

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?

If the candidate is obviously more competent, qualified, and/or has a more friendly demeanor than other candidates, appearance doesn’t matter. If candidates otherwise seem fairly matched, attire may sway opinion. A professional appearance – regardless of suit/jewelry/hair color/etc – is a must. Note: it is possible to integrate personality into a professional, mostly neutral outfit!

What This Library Wears

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

On the dressier side of normal work attire. For example, jeans are ok in my workplace, but for interview days, I try to wear professional/dress pants.

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?

√ Casual

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

√ Name tags

Do you have any other comments?

It would be interesting to see how responses to this survey break down by age.

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

Photo: ready to go by Flickr user apes_abroad

1 Comment

Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, City/town, Midwestern US, What Should Candidates Wear?

One response to “Note: It is Possible to Integrate Personality into a Professional, Mostly Neutral Outfit!

  1. At a recent interview for an academic position, I stuck to all the traditional interview apparel rules for women except…I wore a purple shirt and purple studs. Considering that 3 or 4 of the librarians I met that day were also wearing purple, it provided a good icebreaker (clearly we all have awesome taste) and was a way for me to look less corporate and more me. (I got the job!)

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