Tag Archives: interview clothes

Further Questions: What Should Candidates Wear?

Edited on January 29, 2016 to add…

Wow, lots of discussion about this post! While there is much that could be said in response to the dialogue of race, gender, privilege, etc. and all associated expectations in the library world, I want to make this note brief. I am sorry that the wording and/or images on this post caused some bad feelings. That was not the intention, and it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of this blog’s creator and volunteers.

When the question about interview attire was posted in 2012, responses generated good discussion (and even some about non-Western/ethnic dress, so check that out too). When this question was posed recently, it was copied verbatim. Since 2012, we have learned a lot about assumptions and gender and dress. Due to my workload and personal circumstances, I did not stop to fully consider how such phrasing may be received in 2016. Similarly, time constraints (as well as copyright notices on websites with images I initially wanted to use) did influence the image choices.

Are there better images that could have been used? Yes. Do I wish that diversity (of all types) was more apparent? Yes. However, as with all questions and replies on Further Questions, time and other constraints render it nearly impossible to fit every scenario or address every consideration fairly. This is true for the blog’s creator and volunteers, as well as the panelists and all who have filled out a survey on Hiring Librarians over the years. Panelists rarely answer every aspect of a question, so I would have been surprised if each image was equally addressed. Regardless of how this post was received, I’m happy to see Hiring Librarians causing discussion all the way to the end! If you wish to dialogue further, please email me at hiringlibrariansquestions@ gmail.com. I would love to chat with you and share more than can be said in a short blog post! Thanks for reading! –Sarah

—–

This week we asked people who hire librarians a question that was asked previously, and still remains popular on Hiring Librarians… the inevitable “What should I wear?!?!” question that nearly ALL job seekers struggle with during the job interview process.

Which outfit is most appropriate to wear to an interview with your organization? Please pick one for women and one for men, and feel free to provide commentary as to why you chose one over the others (or share how you might change an outfit). Bonus question:  Can you share any funny stories about horrifying interview outfits?

Female A : What Should Candidates Wear?

Female A. Source: Rotary Club of Clayton-Ladue, click on image for original.

Female B: What Should Candidates Wear?

Female B. Source: Accurate Court Reporting, click on image for original.

Female C: What Should Candidates Wear?

Female C. Source: J’s Everyday Fashion, LLC, click on image for original.

Female D: What Should Candidates Wear?

Female D. Source: Plus Size Outfits, click on image for original.

Male A: What Should Candidates Wear?

Male A. Source: The Denver Post, click on image for original.

Male B: What Should Candidates Wear?

Male B. Source: The Fashionisto, click on image for original.

Male C: What Should Candidates Wear?

Male C. Source: The Working Wardrobe, click on image for original.

Male D: What Should Candidates Wear?

Male D. Source: Epaulet New York, click on image for original.

Christine Hage songstressBased on attire only I would hire any of the first three women with a slight preference for the first woman. She looks like people in my community. I’m not sure how long the second woman would make at one of our services desks in those heels!
I’d feel comfortable with the guy in the suit and the guy in the shirt and tie, with a preference for the shirt and tie. He looks relaxed yet appropriately dress for work.
It also depends on the job the person is applying for. Reference? Youth services? Outreach? Library director? Bookmobile librarian?
I do look at how a person is dressed and figure this is the best they will look when they come on the job.
Clothing fit is important. I once interviewed a fellow that looked like a kid wearing his dad’s dress shirt. I appreciated his effort, but questioned whether he looked in the mirror before he came to the interview.

Years ago a library director colleague friend of mine got a complaint from a parent about a youth services librarian. The librarian had VERY high end designer tastes. The parent felt the librarian was dressed like a hooker, because she had a mini skirt on with high heeled leather boots on the came over the to of her knees. 

Neat, clean, well groomed, good smile and an upbeat personality go a long way with me, especially the smile. Does the person look approachable? Will they make our customers feel welcome?  Will they fit into our community?  Does their attire look like the used common sense putting their look together?

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

Laurie PhillipsFor a woman, I think A and B are most appropriate. Honestly, I don’t care if someone if wearing a matching suit jacket and pants or skirt. Candidates should be dressed professionally and a notch more formal than you would normally wear to work. Female C is not inappropriate, *however* the blouse is a bit sheer. I have had a young female faculty librarian wear a similar blouse to work with a hot pink/coral bra under it and wearing a jacket that matched the bra. That’s just a no-no. Cute but not work appropriate. So I would say C would entirely depend on how you wear it. A jacket or cardigan could make it look more appropriate, but I’d skip the sheer blouse. I’ve seen women wearing a dress and jacket that looked more garden party than job interview. Be careful about that. Male A is the obvious choice. He’s wearing a suit with a solid shirt and tie and appropriate dress shoes. B and C are way too casual. Those shoes on B are not dress shoes. D would be ok if he was wearing socks and a jacket. I don’t mind personality or print. We don’t expect to have you completely strip away your personality. Show personality in your accessories! I don’t really have any funny stories, although I did have a friend who had a candidate who was trying to remove a knot from his shoelace with his teeth. Probably not a smart choice.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Jessica OlinSince gender isn’t a binary, I say you wear whatever you feel is appropriate to the level for which you’re applying. In general, dress just a little bit nicer than you think you would dress if you got the job. If you feel unsure, check with a friend/contact who already has a job in the kind of library where you are interviewing. Don’t know anyone? Feel free to reach out to me and I’ll get you in touch with someone who can help.
– Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

MargaretI know you asked us to pick one for each gender, but honestly, I don’t have opinions on any of the outfits, even the more casual ones. They all seem fine. I might judge a man in an extremely ill-fitting suit, like David Byrne in the 80’s, or something that’s completely unflattering (“that pattern…girl…., whose couch did you have to kill for that?”), but even that won’t have much weight on my decision. As long as they’re clean, fully clothed and give a good interview, a person’s professional fashion sense is not really a deal-killer for me. Now, if you had put up pictures of people in ripped jeans and t-shirts or a tank top and flip flops, we’d be having a different conversation. Also, the City I work for has a rule about visible tattoos, wild hair colors and visible non-ear piercings (like nose) so those are issues that are usually brought up if someone is offered a job. I wonder, is this a generational thing? I’m at the tail end of Gen-X. We thought flannel and baby-doll dresses were a good idea.

– Margaret M. Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

I work at a public research flagship institution in New England. Generally, business formal or one step down is going to be the best bet here because candidates will probably interact with the director, associate director, and department heads during their interviews, and half the staff at that level dress in business formal attire, while others generally dress in business casual attire. Candidates for department head and coordinator positions should definitely wear a suit or the equivalent for women. The fit and state of the outfit also matter; some candidates wear clothing that is too large or small, and they just look uncomfortable. I have also seen wrinkly or stained clothing and that can be a little distracting. Candidates will often take a tour of the library and will walk across campus for lunch, so comfortable shoes are important.

 

For a woman, outfit A, B, and C would all be appropriate, but in my opinion, it looks dated when the shirt collar comes over the jacket (as in image A).

 

For a man, outfit A would be appropriate, and outfit D would also be appropriate if accompanied by a jacket. Here is an article explaining why.

– Anonymous

 

Jason GrubbI feel the position you are interviewing for and the location of the position determine what you should wear. In Wyoming, any of these outfits would be appropriate. Male A and Female B may be too much if interviewing for a non management position, but better to be over dressed than under. We are flexible and casual. As a consequence, nothing surprises us, so no funny stories to share. Be yourself and wear what you are comfortable in.

– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com. Special thanks to the websites providing the images. Please click on the image to be linked to the original.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

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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:

2

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

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

A well-groomed, natural appearance is best.

2006 - Eli - interviewing at desk - (by Eli) 163193843_7d2d203184_o by Flickr user Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos  (ClintJCL)This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a Rural 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?

√ Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are inappropriate

Women should wear make-up to an interview:

√ Other: A well-groomed, natural appearance is best. Makeup, if used, should be lightly applied.

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.

Flip flops.

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
√ Other: No jewelry or conservative earrings, a single necklace or bracelet, and ring

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

What This Library Wears

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

4

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?

√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops

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: 2006 – Eli – interviewing at desk – (by Eli) 163193843_7d2d203184_o by Flickr user Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos  (ClintJCL)

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Rural area, What Should Candidates Wear?

For a teen librarian position, the hair colour would not play a role

Pre-Interview by Flickr user Elliott P.This anonymous interview is with someone who did not answer if the question that asked if they’d been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring or search committee, and/or human resources. When asked, “Are you a librarian?” this person chose the response, “it’s complicated.” This person works at a public library with 0-10 200+ staff members in an Urban area in Canada  

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:

√ I do not know and/or care

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?

√ Either pantyhose or tights. Bare legs are inappropriate

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

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)

√ All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Yes, if that candidate, for example, sports a hair colour reminiscent of birds in the rainforest and is applying for a library manager’s position, I would have some apprehension in hiring this person for this particular position. However, if this same individual applied for a teen librarian position, the hair colour would not play a role — in fact, the unusual look might be an advantage.

What This Library Wears

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

I would wear a tailored suit.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

√ Other: none exists

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

√ N/A: We wear what we want!

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: Pre-Interview by Flickr user Elliott P.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Canada, Public, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

If she cared about how she presented herself to the public, she would have at least worn some makeup.

Interview outfit by Flickr user everyplaceThis anonymous interview is with a Public librarian who has been a hiring manager. This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an Urban area in the Southern 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.

False

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:

Always

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.

Don’t show lots of cleavage.

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
Earrings

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?

The only time I think I was really affected by a candidate’s appearance was when a female candidate had severe acne problems and was wearing absolutely no makeup. I thought if she cared about how she presented herself to the public, she would have at least worn some makeup.

What This Library Wears

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

Suit

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

What’s the dress code at your library/organization?

Casual

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

Flip flops
Tank tops
Logos/band insignia/slogans

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

Photo: Interview outfit by Flickr user everyplace

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Public, Southern US, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

Nude hose in the summer (but only because I don’t like my legs)

Beast of a Job Interview, after Walter Crane by Flickr user Mike LichtThis 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 an Urban area in Canada

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:

Is totally different

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?

No, but it’s not a dealbreaker

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.

wrinkled clothing.

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
Earrings
Multiple Ear Piercings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

Be fairly neutral

What This Library Wears

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

Full suit. Skirt. Opaque hose in the winter; nude hose in the summer (but only because I don’t like my legs; bare legs are fine in the summer). neutral-coloured blouse or shell. Simple silver jewelry. Black pumps.

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

4

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?

Jeans
Flip flops
Short skirts/shorts
Sneakers/trainers

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

Photo: Beast of a Job Interview, after Walter Crane by Flickr user Mike Licht

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Canada, Special, Urban area, What Should Candidates Wear?

Clothing reflects the individual as well as the professionalism of the team.

New Do for the Job Interview by Flickr user  angelgrrl73This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This librarian did not specify their library type, but it has 0-10 staff members  and is in a Suburban area in the Northeastern 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.

√ 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, 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.

Inappropriate clothing includes anything that shows the “BMB” – breasts,midriff, bottom – too low cut, too short. Torn jeans/pants, Flipflops, summer beachware are a no/no.

Professional looking means clean and neat. If you are overdressed that is OK, because you can always dress down. But if you are already dressed down there is nowhere else to go.

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

Clean, neat. If men have long hair, tie it back. (same with women – so it is not in their face and a distraction while talking.) Clothing reflects the individual, an individual personallity and there are broad spectrums that are exceptiable. Individuals need to be certain that they are not crossing the line in either direction. If you are expected to wear a suit everyday for work and a suit is not you, perhaps the position is not for you.

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Background: We have a small team, deal with references inquiries as well as research. Clothing reflects the individual as well as the professionalism of the team.

What This Library Wears

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

Professional dress (not a suit, no stockings)

On a scale of one (too dressed up for my workplace) to five (too casual), khakis and a polo shirt are:

3

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)

√ Flip flops

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

Photo: New Do for the Job Interview by Flickr user  angelgrrl73

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