People DO Make Assumptions Based on Appearance

Hot Summer Interview Outfit by Flickr User nfotxnThis anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a Suburban 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.


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

Other: Not necessarily. Modern summer fashion is usually fine w/o hose, but a dress shoe should be worn regardless.

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.

A generally slovenly appearance makes me wonder immediately about their work habits, attention to detail, and general reliability. I.e. wrinkled clothes, clothes that are far too casual, etc.

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

Simple is best. A suit is great but these are all excellent:
– a nice, sheath dress with a sweater,
– pants and a sharp (pressed) blouse,
– pressed trousers, button down shirt, tie and sweater vest
– GOOD shoes – this is a must

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
Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
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?

Clothes tell a great deal about your personality and people DO make assumptions based on appearance. So instead of letting the clothes speak for you – they should be neat, professional, and neutral, so your words, accomplishments, and demeanor take center stage.

What This Library Wears

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

Business professional. Not a suit, but dress trousers, blouse or sweater, or a dress.

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

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: Hot Summer Interview Outfit by Flickr User nfotxn via Creative Commons License


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

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