If only she had been as enthusiastic about the library job as she was about her clothes

job interview outfit by flickr user misterjtThis 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 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, 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.

I don’t care

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

Never, pantyhose is for my grandmother

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.

There is nothing that would cause a candidate to be instantly out of the running, but appearance adds to the overall assessment of the candidate. One candidate with a lousy personality came dressed in brown canvas tennis shoes with bright neon socks – if only she had been as enthusiastic about the library job as she was about her clothes. Another was showing a lot of cleavage and was a person who liked to touch other people, which was too outgoing for our smaller town (in addition to other issues). (My response is based on my experiences holding interviews for professional positions.)

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

One interviewer, who ended up getting the job, was very nicely dressed in a black dress and gray sweater and had her nicely fixed in a bun. She looked and sounded very professional, not as though she had just come out of grad school (which she had). She obviously had been given advice on how to dress and had practiced interviewing. (My response is based on my experiences holding interviews for professional positions.)

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)

Other, doesn’t matter:

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

All of them, even pink

The way a candidate dresses should:

Show personality
Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

It is part of the overall package. If you dress a bit sloppily and then don’t appear to be very well organized during the interview, it confirms the initial impression of the clothes. Candidates who make an effort to dress well and have a neat appearance are serious about the job and appear to respect the process.

What This Library Wears

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

I wear business casual – blouse and slacks or a skirt.

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: we do not have a dress code.

Are there any specific items of clothing, etc. that are forbidden by your dress code?

Other: no dress code, but one policy requires a neat appearance.

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

Other: none of the above.

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

Photo: job interview outfit by flickr user misterjt

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

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