Tag Archives: interview outfits

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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It Would Not Be the Deciding Factor

Interview outfit by Flickr user everyplaceThis anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian from a city/town in the Northeastern US.  This person works at a library with 10-50 staff members and has been a member of a hiring or search committee.

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?

√ Other: Yes 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

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
√ 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:

√ Be fairly neutral

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

It may influence somewhat, but only if it’s part of their whole presentation. It would not be the deciding factor.

What This Library Wears

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

pants and jacket.

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

√ Other: Don’t know

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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Dressed as Formally as I Expect the Candidate to Be

suit after a job interview by flickr user joshchandler

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian from a rural area of the Southern US.  This librarian works at a library with 0-10 staff members and has been both a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee.

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:

√ 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.

If a candidate chose to wear interview clothing that was not in keeping in the dress and grooming standards at the university, the candidate would be out of the running.

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
√ Earrings

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?

Dressed as formally as I expect the candidate to be.

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 formal

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

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

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√ Name tags
√ Badges

Do you have any other comments?

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

Photo: suit after a job interview by Flickr user joshchandler

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Rural area, Southern US, What Should Candidates Wear?

Does Your Appearance Situate You to Lead a Faculty Committee?

job interview 2 by flickr user rileyroxx

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee.  This librarian works in an urban area of the Midwestern US, at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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?

√ 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 outfit (did you sleep in it?)

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

-Maroon fitted suit jacket with coordinating trousers and a chic scarf

-On a rainy interview day, one candidate wore a ladies’ professional trench coat and carried an umbrella.

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

√ Show personality

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

Candidates need to wear clothing that is appropriate for the meetings and clientele with whom they will work. Does your appearance situate you to lead a faculty committee? Could you rush over to the admin building on a Tuesday morning and answer the university president’s questions about journal inflation? Or, if you work in a public library, would your appearance situate you to dash into an impromptu meeting with the library council and advocate for a new reading program? Show me!!!

What This Library Wears

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

I wear professional business dress, a little more formal than every day wear. I wear a ladies suit or a business dress outfit.

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

5

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
√ Visible Tattoos
√ Short skirts/shorts
√ Tank tops
√ Logos/band insignia/slogans
√ Other: uncovered shoes (sandals, etc), denim (in some places), clothes that show the mid-section, cleavage, frayed clothes, poor personal hygiene

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√ Badges

Do you have any other comments?

1) It’s an unspoken rule, but library administrators and high-level mid-managers have higher dress and hygiene standards than the lower-ranking librarians and paraprofessional staff. Administrators and managers all wear “Dillards/Nordstroms/Coldwater Creek/Borck Brothers” type attire.

2) All female administrators at this university wear professional make-up, color and style their hair regularly, and just always look really put-together. Men usually wear long-sleeved oxford shirts (even in the summer) and similarly look ‘put-together’.

3) Men, don’t wear gold chains or jewelry, especially to an interview. (A wedding or class ring would be an exception).

3) Put the whole outfit together. Shoes should be polished and match the ensemble. Briefcases, handbags, leather notebooks, jewelry, (and in winter or on rainy days- scarves, gloves, boots, hats, etc.) should all “go” together and be professional.

4) Go with more professional and conservative colors. You don’t have to wear just black and navy, but don’t put on coral pink and turquoise.

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

Photo: job interview 2 by flickr user rileyroxx

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

In Summer Skirt and Sandals Minus Hose is Fine

New Years

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee.  This librarian works in a rural area of the Northeastern US, at a library with 50-100 staff members.

What Candidates Should Wear

Should the candidate wear a suit to the interview?

√ Other: nicely dressed – but doesn’t need to be as formal as a suit

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?

√ Other: depends on the time of year. In summer skirt and sandals minus hose is fine.

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.

In my view jeans, a bandanna top with bare midriff for a woman, tee-shirt for a guy are out of bounds.

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

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

√ I don’t care

Which jewelry may candidates wear: (Please select all that are acceptable)

√ A few simple necklaces, bracelets, and/or rings

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

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

The way a candidate dresses should:

√ Other: neatly with a show towards professionalism – so somewhat dressy. For a guy that means a shirt and tie, for a woman skirt, blouse, sweater, dress, good slacks – depends on the time of year.

How does what a candidate wears affect your hiring decision?

It would only affect the decision if the person wore totally informal clothing – and dressed as many of our students dress in dirty torn jeans and tee-shirts.

What This Library Wears

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

Pretty much as I always do for work.

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? Please check all that apply

√ N/A We wear what we want!

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√ Other: whatever we want, although we do tend to dress up more than the students.

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

Photo: “Let’s spend Christmas and New Year’s this way! And not in a hospital!”, 1941 – 1945, World War II Posters, compiled 1942 – 1945, Created By:: Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. (03/09/1943 – 09/15/1945) via Flickr commons

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

A Librarian is Considered Smart — Act and Dress Like It

job interview by flickr user Kino Praxis

 

 

 

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee.  This librarian works in a city/town in the Western US, at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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.

√  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:

√  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.

showing tats, inappropriate outfits suited to leisure @ home or weekend picnics. Professional and business professional is the rule for interviews, always!

we interviewed a man for the job – he wore casual clothing, wrinkled shirt and unpolished shoes — not good.

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

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?

It matters – candidate should care about appearing professional – a librarian is considered smart — act and dress like it during an interview.

What This Library Wears

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

suit or business casual – always a jacket

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? Please check all that apply

√  Short skirts/shorts
√  Tank tops
√  Other: revealing clothing on women

Librarians at your organization wear: Please check all that apply

√  Name tags
√  Shirt, waistcoat/vest, or other single piece of clothing issued by the library

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

Photo: job interview by flickr user Kino Praxis

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, City/town, Western US, What Should Candidates Wear?

Professional Librarians are More Formal than Staff.

Job Interview by flickr user dichromatic winson

This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a member of a hiring or search committee.  This librarian works at an organization with 100-200 staff members in a city/town 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.

t-shirt or other very casual 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
√ All of the simple necklaces, bracelets, and rings he or she can load on
√ 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

Which hair colors are acceptable for candidates:

√ All of them, even pink

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?

Professionally, but not in a complete suit. I might wear a jacket with skirt or pants or a dress.

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: we do not have a written dress code, workers wear clothes that range from Business casual to casual. Professional librarians are more formal than staff.

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!

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

Photo: Job Interview by Flickr user dichromatic winson

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, City/town, Northeastern US, What Should Candidates Wear?