Less formal, but clean and well-fitting is better than more formal and ill-fitting or stained

Job Interview ! by Flickr user A.J. PhotoThis 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 200+ staff members in an Urban area 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

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

√ Other: I’m going to totally show a bias here. I wouldn’t notice if a woman wore short sleeves in the summer. I would notice if a man did. I mean notice in a negative way. I’m male.

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

√ Other: I truly don’t care. Look at the whole outfit and decide if stockings would make it look better.

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ I don’t care, as long as it’s not over-the-top

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’m pretty relaxed about what people wear, as long as it would be appropriate to wear to work. A children’s librarian candidate wearing a cheerful, humorous outfit (especially if he or she works it into the interview) makes sense. A director candidate, not so much.

I have only one story of a completely inappropriate outfit. A male candidate called to ask me (I was the person who had called him to schedule the interview and was serving on the panel) what he should wear to the interview. I thought that was a great question and told him that, as it was summer, most candidates would probably wear a long sleeved shirt and khaki trousers or something like that, along with a tie. I suggested that he visit a couple of branches where there were several male employees if he wanted to see some examples. He did visit the branches; most of the men he saw were dressed just as I described. One (a circulation person) was wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants. The guy then came to the interview dressed in ratty jeans and a patched, short-sleeved shirt. Unbelievable.

If he had called to tell me, look my house just burned down and I have only these clothes, can I still interview, of course, that would have been fine and we would have completely overlooked the clothes. But he didn’t say a word about what he was wearing.

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

Less formal, but clean and well-fitting is better than more formal and ill-fitting or stained.

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
√ Earrings
√ 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:

√ Other: At best, show personality and show how the applicant would form a part of the library work group

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

I think the most important thing is for the candidate to be *comfortable* in the clothing. I don’t notice it too much unless the candidate is actively uncomfortable or if the clothing is completely inappropriate. If the candidate knows that the clothing is unusual, the candidate should mention it and explain a bit about the reason.

What This Library Wears

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

Quite formally: suit, starched shirt, tie, shined shoes. My logic is simple: if a candidate took the trouble to dress very formally, I don’t want the candidate to be concerned about the possibility of overdressing.

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)

√ Jeans
√ Flip flops
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans

Librarians at your organization wear: (Please check all that apply)

√ Badges

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

Photo: Job Interview ! by Flickr user A.J. Photo

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Public, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

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