I hate the idea that people judge you by the way you look, but some do.

Suiting up for interview by Flickr user Sleeteye

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 100-200 staff members in a Suburban area in the 

Southwestern US – Texas

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.

√ Other: I would advise against it, but I don’t think it would prevent a good candidate from being seriously considered for a job.

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

√ Other: If she is otherwise well groomed, it doesn’t matter either way.

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ I don’t care what’s on the face, it’s what’s in the brain that counts

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.

One candidate for an Associate Dean position at an ARL library where I worked interviewed in well-worn jeans and a sport shirt. He did not even mention at the time that his luggage had been lost, and he had to interview in the clothes he wore on the plane. He got the job.

Another time, a candidate for an entry level position wore a transparent white blouse with a lacy bra underneath–no slip or camisole. During her presentation to all staff, she took off her suit jacket and the overhead lighting showed off every detail of the bra, cleavage, etc. I thought that showed poor preparation for the interview. Very much a distraction from her presentation. She did not get the job.

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

For an entry level position, the candidate that I recall as having a great outfit wore a two-piece summer suit (it was hot) with a kelly green top, black skirt, and low black heels. It was not too formal or dressy, but it fit well and looked very up-to-date and professional. The outfit was not too serious — the bright green jacket was a bit livelier than the usual interview outfit. She was a great candidate–very well qualified and well prepared for the interview.

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

√ Other: I have heard a saying that you should dress for an interview as if you already have the job you’re applying for. In that case, if you are applying for a Dean’s position, yes, I would expect the person to be wearing a suit.

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
Other: In Texas, to be honest, I think the person would be better off interviewing without eyebrow rings or other face piercing, or large gauge ear jewelry.

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: Any of the above would usually work. The main thing is that the person appears to be smart, reasonable, a good collaborator, etc.

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

If someone doesn’t dress professionally for an interview, I would wonder if they have a clue about campus expectations for professional positions. There is so much info out there about how to interview to the best advantage. The interview only lasts for a few hours–why not give it your best shot?

What This Library Wears

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

I wear a suit, either with a skirt or slacks. I am an assistant dean, so I feel I need to dress as an administrator for interviews. In a way, I consider it a responsibility– a mark of respect for the effort the candidate has gone through to prepare for the interview, travel to a new city, etc.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

√ Other: Any of the above are OK, depending upon the person’s position

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code? (Please check all that apply)

√ Other: Tank tops, slogans, and flip flops are not worn by librarians or full time staff, but they are not forbidden

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)

√ Name tags
√ Badges
√ Uniforms
√ Shirt, waistcoat/vest, or other single piece of clothing issued by the library
√ Other:

Do you have any other comments?

I think the best advice I have heard is to learn about the library where you are applying for a job, and try to dress one level up from the job you are interviewing for. I hate the idea that people judge you by the way you look, but some do. Once you have the job and people know you, what you wear is less of an issue.

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

Photo: Suiting up for interview by Flickr user Sleeteye

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Suburban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

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