Arty Stuff Should be in Moderation

08-18-05_0922.jpg by Flickr user jsmjr


This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who says:

I have not been on a search committee, but our staff gets to meet with and ask questions of our interview candidates throughout the day.

This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a City/town in the Northeastern US.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Other: Depends. From my understanding, academic libraries want candidates to wear suits. This may be different for other types of libraries.

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?

√ 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.

Anyone walking in with jeans or sneakers, I would automatically discount. Or flip-flops, but I am of the opinion that you should NEVER wear flip-flops. Anything low-cut on women, shoulder-bearing on men. Anything with sequins.

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

We had a candidate come in with structured, fitted black slacks, a black long-sleeve button-down shirt, and cowboy boots. She also had a really nice neckerchief on. I was floored by her outfit. I have always been instructed by mentors to always wear suits at academic library interviews, no question. Her casual outfit threw me off, but at the same time, I felt it was appropriate and showcased her personality more. It’s what she’d probably wear actually coming to work. She was put-together and professional, while still being herself. Besides, who wears a suit to work anymore?

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)

√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Other: Arty stuff should be in moderation, I would argue. One statement piece, like a necklace or bracelet, I think can work. Too much would be distracting for me.

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ Natural colors (black, brown, red, blonde, gray)

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: A little personality is good, but I vote for mostly neutral.

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Dressing in a clean and professional manner shows courtesy to the staff members at the interview and, in my mind, respect for the position for which this person is applying and the institution he’s visiting. If he can’t make a bit of a show of it for an interview, I can’t help but question how much this person wants the job.

What This Library Wears

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

When participating in conducting an interview for a candidate, I wear what I would normally wear to work.

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

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

Photo: 08-18-05_0922.jpg by Flickr user jsmjr via Creative Commons License


Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, What Should Candidates Wear?

4 responses to “Arty Stuff Should be in Moderation

  1. Trish

    So bare arms can be appropriate, but bare legs are always inappropriate? Did I misread that?


  2. Mark

    So… Khakis and a Polo shirt are just this side of too casual (4/5), but your office is “Casual” and “We wear what we want”? Am I the only one getting cognitive dissonance, here?

    (And I didn’t notice the bare arms/bare legs thing but, yeah, that’s what’s being said)


    • The khakis and polo question is meant to be a cross-check with the dress code question. I think though that the majority of people choose 3 for the khakis question, no matter what they choose for the dress code. I think terms like “business formal”, “business casual”, and “casual” do not in fact have a strong objective meaning.
      Note also that this person says they do not make hiring decisions.


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