Sleaveless is Inappropriate, Unless You are Michelle Obama ;)

Working Wardrobes Women's Day of Self Esteem by Flickr user HKA, Inc. Public RelationsThis anonymous interview is with a Public 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 City/town in the 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
Is totally different
I do not know and/or care

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

Other: sleveless is inappropriate, unless you are Michelle Obama 😉

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

Other: completely up to the interviewee

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.

too much cleavage is distracting. torn or ripped clothing would not be impressive.

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
Nose Ring (nostril)
Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
Multiple Ear Piercings
Large gauge ear jewelry (stretched ears)

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

I don’t really care how a candidate dresses

What This Library Wears

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

dress pants & nice shirt or blouse

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?


Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code?

Flip flops
Short skirts/shorts
Tank tops

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: Working Wardrobes Women’s Day of Self Esteem by Flickr user HKA, Inc. Public Relations


Filed under 10-50 staff members, City/town, Public, Southern US, What Should Candidates Wear?

3 responses to “Sleaveless is Inappropriate, Unless You are Michelle Obama ;)

  1. Beth Emmerling

    I understand dress codes but this interview is disconcerting to me. Sleeveless arms are a problem and will not be allowed. I am not clear about why naked arms are so problematic but, Ok. Unless you are M.O. with very buff arms. (I get this is a little joke here) And the M.O. comment implies that if your arms are very buff you might get an exception. Their are several areas of implied discrimination here — ageism, muscle mass, to mention but a few.
    Words are important. The reality of discrimination in some workplaces is also factual. This interview is very telling. Imagine working for someone who has a clearly defined idea of the idealized body, which may well be only the tip of a discriminatory iceberg.
    Thanks for listening

  2. I agree that the Michelle Obama comment likely has more to do with status and power, rather than actual appearance.

    It always strikes me as inconsistent when interviewers state some specific no-no about attire, only to turn around and say that they “don’t care how a candidate dresses.” Actually, yes, you do! Reading these can be so frustrating. I’ve seen people state that (no) stockings, (no) makeup, and sleevelessness are all deal-breakers. But what on earth does that have to do with librarianship when what is appropriate dress is so relative and culturally divergent? It is especially annoying because many of these nitpicks focus squarely on what women ought to wear in order to be taken seriously.

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