we unconsciously gave preference to candidates who dressed a little “artsy”

Steve_Fall2007 (6) by Flickr user altomuse77This anonymous interview is with someone who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee at an archives. When asked “Are you a librarian?” this person chose the “it’s complicated” answer. This person’s organization has with 50-100 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.

√ False

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

√ No, but it’s not a dealbreaker

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.

T-shirts with offensive slogans (seriously, a Tshirt? Much less one that said something along the lines of “What’s it to you?”). One candidate wore a suit jacket and skirt but a top that bared her midriff, which I found inappropriate and weird. She also told us way too much about her love life over lunch, so it was definitely reflective of some boundary issues . . .

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

Working for a non-profit arts organization, I think we unconsciously gave preference to candidates who dressed a little “artsy” – funky glasses, sassy shoes, unusual patterns or knits. One candidate wore really great patterned tights and glasses with an otherwise sedate but stylish suit and was hired.

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)
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Show personality

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Occasionally it can be a clue as to what the candidate considers appropriate: if s/he can’t navigate what to wear at an interview, how will s/he judge interactions with students and patrons? Still, I did hire an archivist who wore a dress too informal for the situation to an interview, because I had worked with her before and knew she would be a good fit. She was young and probably had different ideas of what was appropriate- plus it was summer and very hot. In that situation, I might have just suggested she carry a blazer or sweater she could have thrown on once in the building. Didn’t affect her hire, though.

What This Library Wears

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

In a suit or coordinated outfit.

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
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans

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

Photo: Steve_Fall2007 (6) by Flickr user altomuse77 via Creative Commons License

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Archives, Northeastern US, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

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