I Expect Them to Have Enough Common Sense to Know How to Dress for a Professional Position

If I'm gonna haul my ass into SPANX, somebody is TAKING MY PICTURE by Flickr user Mandajuice



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 0-10 staff members in a Rural area in the Northeastern US.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

Probably not (but it’s ok if the candidate does wear one)

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

Counts as a suit

Bare arms are inappropriate in an interview, even in the summer.


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.

Visible bra straps are a non-starter.

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?


Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

Other:Be neat, clean and professional.

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

I expect them to have enough common sense to know how to dress for a professional position. If they don’t, they either don’t care or don’t have sufficient research skills, either of which would disqualify them.

What This Library Wears

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

Dress or pants/blouse, jacket, and low-heeled shoes.

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

Do you have any other comments?

I liked this survey. It was interesting and well designed. One question I thought was confusing, though, was the one about the dress code/expectations in “your workplace” — it wasn’t clear whether that was the library or the university at large. They are different. (We dress better than the faculty.)

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

Photo: If I’m gonna haul my ass into SPANX, somebody is TAKING MY PICTURE by Flickr user Mandajuice via Creative Commons License



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

3 responses to “I Expect Them to Have Enough Common Sense to Know How to Dress for a Professional Position

  1. I love reading this series of interviews. One absence I notice here is a mention of piercings. I wonder if this librarian would accept a small nose stud?

    Also, is there a question about tattoos in the interview? I’ve seen some posts on this subject recently (on Tumblr) and it seems that most small, unobtrusive tattoos would be acceptable in libraries. It would be interesting to hear this for people in hiring positions!


    • There’s not a question about tattoos in the interview, but the question that asks “Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code? Please check all that apply” has the choice “Visible Tattoos” 32 out of 234 respondents indicated that visible tattoos were not allowed at their library.


      • Oh, that’s interesting. Thanks for replying. I wish I had figures like that for over here (Ireland). I suspect there aren’t policies, per se, but that certain places would not look kindly on visible tattoos. I’m curious about this as I’m about to get another tattoo. Not huge, but definitely visible (on my wrist).


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