As a female I wish I could wear Doc Martens to interviews

Note: This is the last of the “What Should Candidates Wear?” survey responses!  Unlike all the other Hiring Librarians surveys, this survey has been closed.  We may re-open it again with revisions.  See: The Pantyhose Standard and Related Sunday Ranting, as well as Counting Readers: Hiring Librarians 2013 Blog Stats for discussion of the problematic nature of this survey, and the decision to close it.

ready for my job interview by Flickr user fuzzcatThis anonymous interview is with someone who works at an Academic library and who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. When asked, “Are you a librarian?” this person chose the response, “It’s complicated.” This person works at a library 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?

√ Yes, absolutely! It shows respect and professionalism

An outfit with a coordinated blazer and trousers:

√ Counts as a suit

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

√ True

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

√ Other: yes, 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.

Sneakers. We actually had a candidate who came to their interview wearing shoes similar to Converse. One candidate, a male, wore Doc Martens and a coordinating jacket and trousers; I personally applauded rather than looked down on his shoe choice, mostly because as a female I wish I could wear Doc Martens to interviews – much more comfortable.

Do you expect different levels of formality of dress, depending on the position you’re hiring for?

√ No

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:

√ Natural colors (black, brown, red, blonde, gray)

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Show personality

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

I do take into account not so much what a candidate wears but how well put together and professional they look. I know that it can be hard to find an affordable suit that’s not just navy or black, so I appreciate when a candidate is able to find something that has some stylish flair or at least a vivid color (for example, a skirt with contrast stitching or piping, or a gentleman’s tie in a great color with an eye-catching geometric pattern). It’s important that the candidate feel comfortable in the clothes they have on, as that will impact the overall impression they give during an interview. It’s also important that the suit fit well, and not be too tight or too big. And comfortable shoes (is that an oxymoron) are critical; our candidates are on their feet quite a bit and, when time allows, their interview includes a campus tour.

What This Library Wears

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

I do try to dress more professionally when conducting an interview. I won’t wear a suit, but I will at least wear a nice blouse and pencil skirt and accessorize with some jewelry.

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 formal

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

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: ready for my job interview by Flickr user fuzzcat


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

2 responses to “As a female I wish I could wear Doc Martens to interviews

  1. I’m surprised sometimes to see what expected interview attire is in work environments that are primarily casually dressed. I think it’s general good practice, if possible, to visit beforehand and see what library staff is wearing — and step it up a notch for an interview. The idea is to avoid being too far out of sync one way or the other, and to increase the visual sense of fitting in. Here, though, I think I’d be confused as an interviewee: I would definitely be expected to wear a suit, but my interviewer would not, and most of the other employees aren’t dressed even as formally as a polo and khakis? Wouldn’t I look out of place? Is that something that hiring managers/employers want to promote?


  2. allanaaa

    Thank you for closing this survey.


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