I have always thought this was a very sexist question and wonder why you continue to include it

ready for my job interview by Flickr user fuzzcatThis 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 special library with 0-10 staff members in an Urban area in the Northeastern 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.

√ Other: I have always thought this was a very sexist question and wonder why you continue to include it

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

√ Other: again, why do you ask this kind of question? do you care what kind of socks male candidates wear?

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: likewise on the sexist side

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.

I don’t have a horrifying story but feel that anything that is over the top, either too formal or too casual says something about the candidate, their confidence level, and how they see themselves as a professional. Regardless of the type of library, you are a professional and should look and act as such; ergo if you have tats cover them up; if you have multiple piercings tone them down; if you like to put on makeup as if you were in the circus tone it down, etc. You are in a customer service profession and as such should not scare the interviewer or look like you just got out of bed! Once you get the job you can learn more about what’s expected of the dress code and adapt accordingly. Yes, it’s not fair to judge someone solely by how they look, but that’s life in the real world.

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

√ Other: for the interview I expect the candidate to dress professionally, regardless of what the job is – anything else is disrespectful

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Other: once again, overdoing something simply makes you look unprofessional

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: be professional – I always assume the way someone dresses is a function of their personality

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Too casual is disrespectful even if the organization is casual normally; leave it for after you get the job. I expect someone to look like they are a professional in a customer service oriented work place (regardless of type of library). If someone comes in like they are on their way to the beach (male or female) it would definitely hurt their chances.

What This Library Wears

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

like a professional; usually a suit or other business wear. Something that reflects my picture of myself as a professional and someone who an employer would feel proud to have represent them

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) 

√ Flip flops
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans
√ Sneakers/trainers
√ Other: bare midriffs

Do you have any other comments?

honestly I think you need to drop the questions about makeup and pantyhose.

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

Photo: ready for my job interview by Flickr user fuzzcat, via Creative Commons License


Filed under 0-10 staff members, Special, What Should Candidates Wear?

2 responses to “I have always thought this was a very sexist question and wonder why you continue to include it

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

  2. This is an interesting & valuable interview. I appreciate the reminder that even if the job site is very casual, the interview is not.

    I also appreciate the bravery to call out sexism/racism/etc, because I know that it’s hard to be the only one calling out.

    I (sadly?) find the Qs about how interviewers judge makeup & stockings very useful, as these are not topics that come naturally to me, but I know that I am judged by them, sexist or not. This is the reality of a professional interview & I find the “inside perspective” to be valuable.

    Perhaps it would be a nice idea to add questions about facial hair & ties to the general interview? That increases the usefulness to male librarians & balance out the gender bias.


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