I once interviewed a woman who wore a hat with a fake bird nest

Suit by Flickr User Corin (G.I. Folk)This anonymous interview is with an 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 Midwestern US 

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview? 

√ Probably not (but it’s ok if the candidate does wear one)

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.

Dirty, stained clothes would be a deal breaker. Also, anything too odd or unusual. I once interviewed a woman who wore a hat with a fake bird nest (complete with rumpled bird) on it. I couldn’t hear a thing she said because the hat distracted me so much! On the other hand, one of the best teen services librarians I ever hired came complete with a nose ring and an “I ❤ the Dewey Decimal System” tattoo. Personality makes all the difference!

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

My tattooed teen services librarian really nailed the interview. He came full of enthusiasm and ideas about ways to interest teens in the library. It was clear he had thought about the job and really wanted to reach teens. He was respectful but energetic at the same time. Just a dynamo!

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
√ No
√ I don’t care
√ Other:

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
√ All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on
√ Arty or more elaborate necklaces, bracelets, or rings
√ Nose Ring (nostril)
√ Eyebrow Ring, Monroe piercing, septum piercing, or other face piercing
√ Earrings
√ Multiple Ear Piercings
√ Large gauge ear jewelry (stretched ears)
√ Other: Whatever they like

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: show personality but not be dirty

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

It doesn’t really. I’m looking for personality and enthusiasm. I don’t want to hire someone who looks like a homeless person but other than that, anything goes.

What This Library Wears

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

As the library director, I wear a skirt and sweater or a basic sheath dress.

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?

√ Other: No sweat pants and no showing your navel

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code? (Please check all that apply)

√ Other: Anything within reason

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: Suit by Flickr User Corin (G.I. Folk)

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, What Should Candidates Wear?

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