I Always Look at a Person’s Shoes

Interview Outfit for Tomorrow by Flickr user SansPoint



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 Rural area in the Southern US.

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.

√ 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.

T-shirts are not an option. Also I always look at a person’s shoes – are they clean, free from scratches and tears and holes. If they are completely worn out it says to me that don’t pay attention to detail.

I also pay attention to see if there hair is clean and neat. It doesn’t have to be in styled in the most current fashion, but I expect it to be clean and combed or brushed.

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

I have seen candidates show up in polished and professional attire – including starched white dress shirts for men and suspenders under a sport coat. This was a plus size male who looked completely professional and who looked like he had gone the extra mile. He ended up getting the job, by the way.

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
√ Nose Ring (nostril)
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Show personality

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

It depends upon the level of responsibility of the job and if the person being hired will be representing the library to various levels of the community. For instance, will this person represent the Dean of the Library at fundraising events, etc. The responsibilities involved in the position will play a role in the way I think the interviewee should be dressed for the interview.

What This Library Wears

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

I dress very professionally.

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?

Dress codes are very touchy subjects for many people. Sometimes as the director, it is difficult to enforce a strict dress code if you have inherited a staff that has not any type of dress code enforced over the years. It is also difficult and seems unfair to require people to dress a certain way when pay scales are low and it could possibly cause a financial hardship on certain staff if a stricter dress code was implemented.

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

Photo: Interview Outfit for Tomorrow by Flickr user SansPoint, Creative Commons License


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

2 responses to “I Always Look at a Person’s Shoes

  1. sarahem

    “There” hair? Yikes.

  2. varellano

    I was surprised by the attention to footwear. I’d heard this from various career counselors, but I guess I always thought it was a job-hunting urban myth.

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