I work in an area with a lot of men in power positions. If I dress down I can be assumed to be a secretary.

Outfit for interview by Flickr user Josh DelsmanThis anonymous interview is with a Special “librarian” who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members in a Suburban area in the Midwestern 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.


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

√ Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are inappropriate

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.

Open-toed shoes. Anything too sloppy. Whatever they wear they need to appear confident and comfortable in it. Wearing a suit doesn’t work if it’s ill-fitting. People who put on a suit for the first time for an interview are easy to spot. It tells me that they care enough to do that, but also reveals that they may not have much experience with leadership or social situations.

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
Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Clothing makes a statement about the person and what the person expects from the job.

What This Library Wears

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

I wear slacks, jacket and some type of feminine blouse – same thing I wear most days. I work in an area with a lot of men in power positions. If I dress down I can be assumed to be a secretary.

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?

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

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


Do you have any other comments?

Ask about perfume / aftershave. Our team works in close quarters. If a candidate has a strong odor — good or bad — it’s a non-starter.

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

Photo: Outfit for interview by Flickr user Josh Delsman

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Midwestern US, Special, Suburban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

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