I Wish We Had Name Tags

fliss interview outfit by flickr user mygothlaundry



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 100-200 staff members, in an urban area of the Midwestern 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.

√ 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.

Cropped or bare midriff shirts, flannel anything, no fishnets or thigh high boots; no sports team clothing, sweats, or anything that could be considered workout gear. No flip flops. No strapless.

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)
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

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?

It’s not often part of the committee’s discussion, but first impressions do affect make a difference, even if they’re never verbalized. If you show that you made an effort to think about the interview by dressing sharp, it shows you want the job and not just showing up. You don’t need an expensive suit–borrow or buy from thrift/vintage as long as it fits well and it’s clean.

What This Library Wears

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

Formally-probably not my best suit, but also make an effort!

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)

√ N/A: We wear what we want!

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)

√ Other: I wish we had name tags

This survey was co-authored by Jill of Librarian Hire Fashion – submit your interview outfit to her blog!
Photo: fliss interview outfit by flickr user mygothlaundry


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

2 responses to “I Wish We Had Name Tags

  1. Regina

    thank you E, as Head of Access (big urban public school) I only hired students, (3 pay grades) and the experience was interesting. I told the boys “no undies showing,” the girls—“no beach-wear or what could be construed as beach-wear.” As for the Sophia Loren cleavage? Always a problem with the kids.
    I agree with name tags but not in-house (library) conferences, meet-ups, round-tables, etc.


  2. I wonder why this person wants name tags. I can understand title tags (Library Director, Library Assistant) or even simple “Librarian” or “Volunteer” tags. My problem with name tags is that many uncomfortable encounters with men have occurred because they walked up to me, called me by name, and started talking as if we knew each other. In other words, they started the acquaintanceship with a deeper level of informality than is appropriate at first meeting or, indeed, in a professional interaction. Instead of both parties starting off on equal footing, one party usurps the superior position from the start, putting the other in the subordinate position of having to scramble to mentally catch up. That kind of behavior is on the spectrum of irritating to threatening, especially coming from a man towards a woman. I don’t know if I’m explaining this well, but letting a stranger know your name before you have a chance to offer it upsets the balance of power and I think there are alternatives to identifying staff without putting them in a position that invites inappropriate behavior.

    I’m curious to see what security professionals have to say about this concern, but so far, my research hasn’t turned up much information on the topic.


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