Most People Look Fine

Outfit for interview by Flickr user Josh Delsman

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 Urban area in the Northeastern 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.

√ Other:depends on the outfit

If a woman wears a skirt to an interview, should she also wear pantyhose?

√ Other: doesn’t matter

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: should look clean and well-groomed, so whatever level of makeup but not clownish

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.

The person should be clean and neat. Business or business casual works well. This is not horrifying, but a recent candidate wore a shirt that had sleeves too long that had to be folded up–you could notice it under his blazer. While not a deal-breaker, it did make me wonder about him. Why would he not get a long-sleeve shirt that fits or wear a short sleeve shirt? What you wear should make you look confident and competent. It should not distract people from learning about your talents and abilities.

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

Most people look fine.

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)

√ Other:Jewelry should enhance not distract — less is more

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ Other: there is more latitude for non-natural colors, e.g., pink, for arty positions rather than management

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

It depends on the position, but in many library jobs you need to interact with the public. You will want to project a positive image of the library. So part of my evaluation of a candidate is whether he or she will be able to act in an appropriate manner for a variety of situations. An important element is appearance. You don’t have to bury your personality, but you should be able to dress in a professional range.

What This Library Wears

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

I dress a little more formally, e.g., suit, dress. I want to look professional and competent too.

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)

√ Flip flops
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)
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√ Other: N/A

Do you have any other comments?

Some questions should include “no opinion”, “not applicable”, etc.

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

Photo: Outfit for interview by Flickr user Josh Delsman

1 Comment

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

One response to “Most People Look Fine

  1. Reblogged this on missjackson and commented:
    Very candid post. Many people stress a lot about interviewing and making a good impression. Its good to hear directly from a hiring manager what really matters


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