"The attached outfit is what I wear every time I have an interview. I got a job as a high school library para while still in library school. A couple months after graduation, I got a job as a school librarian in a K-8 school. After a year, a high school position opened up in a neighboring district, so I took a job there, my current job. Actual at-work attire is much more casual but for interviews I dress like this no matter what the culture of the place is. I also always wear a blue blouse because I read somewhere that people subconsciously link blue with sincerity. I have no idea if that’s true but it makes me feel more confident!
My suit and lucky blouse have been on several unsuccessful interviews as well, but even when I don’t get the job, I’ve never gotten the impression that I lost out on a job because I didn’t dress the part.”
I thought most applicants knew they needed to dress professionally for interviews and tried to do so, but I’ve received some comments from library directors suggesting they have seen too many applicants too far off base. Below is what they say.
"I don’t have a picture, but I hired a male applicant about a year ago and he wore a nice suit to the interview. As a Library director who has made several hires, I assure you that dressing well is an important element that the successful candidate would do well to consider. " - Kitty
"The biggest deal breaker for me (besides the far out answers that indicate the prospective hire has no clue about our culture / mission etc) is inappropriate dress. I’ve gotten used to the more casual presentation of the newest crop of MSIS / MLS graduates - after all we are a college, albeit one founded by the Mercy Sisters - but it’s hard to get past the very low cut tops or skin tight pants / skirts = the latter so short there’s not much to hide." - Judy
Knowing what to avoid is helpful. Knowing what to do is more useful, but also more complicated. That’s why pictures help. If you’ve had a successful interview, will you submit an image of what you wore and help the newest crop of MLIS graduates step up from their casual presentation?
Library interview outfits with contributions from Library Hire Fashion and more!
There’s a new site for inspiration for your library interview outfit. As is typical for the Internet, the outfits are primarily for women. Men, we need your input! There are two ways to contribute.
1) Join Pinterest and pin your image of an interview outfit, inspirational or actual.
2) Submit your image of an outfit that you wore to a job interview that resulted in a job offer to me and I will post it on Librarian Hire Fashion.
Add a jacket to the “Playing it Safe” image, and the outfit looks interview appropriate to me. Playing it safe with personality. Thoughts?
This might be too casual for some interviews, but to me, it looks like a good mix of formality and personality. What do others think?
I sat on the hiring side of an interview table this week. We were hiring for a part-time office manager. Our part-time staff can wear twill-type, casual pants and casual (without logos/graphics) shirts. Full-time staff wear dress pants and nice shirts, preferably with some kind of jacket.
Two applicants wore dress trousers and a nice shirt. I thought they successfully hit the mark of dressing slightly better than our part-time staff, even if they wore knit shirts or open-toed shoes which I think of as too informal for most interviews.
One applicant wore a twill skirt and button-up shirt. She was probably the most formally dressed, but clearly lacked the skills or personality to fill the position.
One applicant wore a long, patterned skirt and crocheted sweater with the camisole visible underneath. While more casual than I would be brave enough to wear to an interview, I thought she, too, was appropriately dressed for our environment.
One applicant wore a nice shirt, but paired it with jeans so skinny they looked painted on and giant athletic shoes. If I was judging by appearances, I would have wanted her to make a little more effort. Even changing the shoe for something more formal would have suggested that she took the interview seriously. Despite that, she turned out to be the best able to show her qualifications and we offered her the job.
One applicant had her hair dyed bright red and visible tattoos. That didn’t bother me, but one panel member made multiple negative comments about the appropriateness of her appearance, but also suggested the applicant might be a choice if we needed someone to lead art or children’s programs.
Public library, southeastern USA
Small city of 40k surrounded by rural area
Sunny and warm!
Library staff wardrobe typically runs the gamut from khakis to pencil skirts. I already work in the system, and I usually wear skirts and blouses. Tattoos and piercings are normal for the system, so I wasn’t worried about covering mine up.
The interviewers all wore jeans, because it was casual Friday! Two wore cardigans and the other wore a polo.
I started planning my outfit as soon as I was offered an interview. Because I already work in the system, I wanted to wear something my coworkers—especially my supervisor, who was one of the interviewers—had never seen before. I got my dress & wedges at Target, but my necklace is Kate Spade. I also wanted to strike a balance between looking professional and fun (I was interviewing for an adult services position), and the necklace did the job—when I first walked in, everyone commented on it and wanted to know where I got it!
I used to have very long hair but I cut it all off a week before the interview, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I ended up just teasing it and pulling it back into a tiny bun (typical librarian hair) and it looked fine.
I was offered the position on Monday, and I start the day after Labor Day. I am very, very excited!
This picture was taken after I got the job, but I can detail what I typically wear when I work at the library. I tend to wear a brown 100% worsted wool pair of pants with a brown suede pair of Allen-Edmonds brand shoes. I will also mention that the tie that I wore are the university’s colors.
Summer/Hot and Humid
Library staff typically dress at least business casual and dress warmly due to cool temperatures within the library.
Library staff wore business casual at the least. Men wore 7-button dress shirts and a tie. Women wore a sweater and skirt or dress slacks.
Public Library, the interview was for a Teen Services librarian
United States (west/southwest)
City that is part of a larger metropolitan area
Summer, HOT (the city is in the desert)
Library staff were dressed on the business casual spectrum.
My supervisor wore a suit with a blouse and sandals, the other two librarians on the panel were wearing business casual (a skirt and blouse on one and a dress and cardigan on the other I believe).