I understand that not everyone has the money to dress up, but they should do their best to appear professional

Interview Clothes by Flickr user MalkyThis 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 Suburban area Southern US.

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.

√ True

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

√ Other: Not necessary in the south as long as the rest of the outfit is appropriate

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: No makeup is fine, excessive makeup could be off-putting

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.

They need to look like they gave their appearance some thought – no flip flops, bare midriffs, shorts… I know I am in Florida and we are pretty informal, but there is a line. Clothes should fit without being too revealing.

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

Women have come in wearing a nice dress, jacket, appropriate heels or slacks with a really nice blouse -carrying a jacket and looked fine. Men can wear slacks, shirt and blazer. A tie at an interview is pretty much expected. Polished shoes.

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)

√ Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring
√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: Show personality, but not be over the top. Get the job and then slide into less traditional dress once we know you.

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

As long as they are neat and clean and appear to have paid attention to their appearance , I try not to let clothes affect me too much. I understand that not everyone has the money to dress up, but they should do their best to appear professional and businesslike.

What This Library Wears

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

I wear a dress and jacket, shirt and blazer, slacks and blazer – something quite businesslike.

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)

√ Tank tops
√ Other: We have different levels – student workers who are casual, staff who are pretty casual, and librarians who are less casual.

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

Photo: Interview Clothes by Flickr user Malky via Creative Commons License

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

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