Stats and Graphs: 246 Responses on What Candidates Should Wear

The last time we looked at stats and graphs for what candidates should wear was October 2012.  We’ve had a few more responses trickle in, but mostly I just want to revisit these stats.

number of responses

I also want to add my standard disclaimer that I’m using Google forms, and the charts it generates cut off some of the answer choices.  It takes me a while to do a post like this, and even longer to make it prettier in Excel, so I’ll ask you to please just excuse how sloppy it looks.  This is a labor of love, and I’m a busy lady.

Also I don’t use probability sampling, so what happens in the survey can’t be assumed to be what happens in the larger population.  And this survey mashes together the responses of academic, public, special, school and other library organizations (although you’ll see that the majority of responses are from Academic librarians).

These responses have been collected between the survey’s launch, on 9/3/2012 and 11/30/2013.  We are still collecting responses!  If you want to take the survey, go to: 

The survey was co-written by Jill from Librarian Hire Fashion.  Want to talk more about interview outfits?  That’s the Tumblr to do it on!

And now the


What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

wear a suit

Yes, absolutely! It shows respect and professionalism 48   20%
Probably, yes (but it’s ok if the candidate wears something a little less formal) 132   54%
Probably not (but it’s ok if the candidate does wear one) 36   15%
No way! It shows a lack of understanding about my library and/or the nature of librarianship 2    1%
I don’t care 12    5%
Other 16    7%


An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

blazer trousers

Counts as a suit 181   74%
Is totally different 22    9%
I do not know and/or care 30   12%
Other 13    5%

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

bare arms

True 99   40%
False 66   27%
I don’t care 46   19%
Other 35   14%


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


Never, pantyhose is for my grandmother 10    4%
No, but it’s not a dealbreaker 84   34%
Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are inappropriate 49   20%
Yes, true professionals always wear pantyhose 11    4%
Other 92   37%

Women should wear make-up to an interview: 

make up

Always 13    5%
I don’t care, as long as it’s not over-the-top 108   44%
I don’t care what’s on the face, it’s what’s in the brain that counts 103   42%
Never 0    0%
Other 22    9%


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 190   77%
No 38   15%
I don’t care 9    4%
Other 9    4%


Which jewelry may candidates wear:


Single, simple necklace, bracelet, and/or ring 181   75%
A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings 177   73%
All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on 43   18%
Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings 139   57%
Nose Ring (nostril) 86   36%
Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing 61   25%
Earrings 188   78%
Multiple Ear Piercings 136   56%
Large gauge ear jewelry (stretched ears) 49   20%
Other 76   31%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

hair colors

All of them, even pink 129   52%
Natural colors (black, brown, red, blonde, gray) 89   36%
Other 28   11%


The way a candidate dresses should:

neutral or personality

Show personality 60   24%
Be fairly neutral 99   40%
I don’t really care how a candidate dresses 26   11%
Other 61   25%

What the Library Wears

On a scale of  1 to 5, where one is too dressed up for your workplace, khakis and a polo shirt are:

khakis and a polo

1 –
Too dressed up for my workplace
1    0%
2 4    2%
3 177   72%
4 37   15%
5 –
Too casual for my workplace
15    6%


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

dress code

Business formal 8    3%
Business casual 146   59%
Casual 51   21%
I don’t even know what any of that means 2    1%
Other 39   16%

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

forbidden items

Jeans 65   28%
Flip flops 113   49%
Visible Tattoos 28   12%
Short skirts/shorts 94   41%
Tank tops 98   42%
Logos/band insignia/slogans 78   34%
Sneakers/trainers 36   16%
N/A: We wear what we want! 50   22%
Other 135   58%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

Librarians at your organization wear:

Name tags 102   61%
Badges 46   27%
Uniforms 1    1%
Shirt, waistcoat/vest, or other single piece of clothing issued by the library 6    4%
Other 57   34%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.


What type of institution do you hire for?


Academic Library 134   54%
Public Library 80   33%
School Library 2    1%
Special Library 12    5%
Archives 9    4%
Other 9    4%

Where are you?



Northeastern US 61   25%
Midwestern US 65   26%
Southern US 60   24%
Western US 37   15%
Canada 9    4%
UK 5    2%
Australia/New Zealand 1    0%
Other 8    3%

Where are you?



Urban area 80   33%
Suburban area 56   23%
City/town 74   30%
Rural area 31   13%
Other 5    2%

How many staff members are at your library?

numbers of staff


0-10 61   25%
10-50 115   47%
50-100 31   13%
100-200 22    9%
200+ 15    6%

Are you a librarian?

r u lib


Yes 222   90%
No 6    2%
It’s complicated 18    7%

Are you now or have you ever been:

r u now

a hiring manager (you are hiring people that you will directly or indirectly supervise) 179   74%
a member of a hiring or search committee 207   85%
human resources 8    3%
Other 6    2%
People may select more than one checkbox, so percentages may add up to more than 100%.

What do you think?  What should we have asked?  I realize we don’t talk about religious garb, or neckties… what else did we miss? Please comment below or email hiringlibrariansATgmail.


Filed under Stats and Graphs, What Should Candidates Wear?

3 responses to “Stats and Graphs: 246 Responses on What Candidates Should Wear

  1. Thanks for compiling this information. I usually wear suits to interviews.


  2. Pingback: The Pantyhose Standard, and Related Sunday Ranting | Hiring Librarians

  3. If a coordinated jacket and pants counts as a suit, and a suit is too formal, I don’t understand what the respondents are suggesting people wear to interviews. Pants, blouse, no jacket? Mystery items?


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