by Lauren Arnsman, Head Editor, INALJ Puerto Rico
previously published 4/4/13
Free your wardrobe and the rest will follow!
I have a confession: I hate wearing suits. This is one of the things that makes me most anxious about interviews (well, that list is pretty long, truthfully). Anytime I have an interview I go back and forth about wearing my (only) suit. It’s a nice suit, don’t get me wrong. I have a skirt and pants to go with the jacket so it can be versatile when it comes to the crazy weather changes happening in Michigan. Other reasons I’ve caved to buying and wearing a suit is that most of my colleagues say to wear one to every interview. Since I’ve interviewed at academic libraries, public libraries, and special libraries, it did take the guesswork out of the wardrobe equation for a while and even made sense for a while. I still never felt completely comfortable in it though. One of my biggest worries about interviewing is appearing confident, something that wearing my suit never truly let me do.
Recently, something happened that made me rethink the whole “always wear a suit” thought. I no longer could wear my suit jacket or the pants. They were too big! Which is awesome but then my whole “great, NOW what do I wear?!” anxieties came back.
This is where I decided to throw caution into the wind and become anti-suit. I should also mention that I’m not a huge fan of button-down shirts, either. They just aren’t my style. So after looking at sites like Librarian Wardrobe: http://librarianwardrobe.com/ and Librarian Hire Fashion: http://librarianhirefashion.tumblr.com/, I felt more secure in my decision to not wear a suit. I even asked a friend who is also interviewing for library jobs what she suggested. So my new interviewing outfit would be… *drum roll*… a sensible shirt and cardigan over my (still-fitting) suit skirt! I know, I know, so basic, right? For me, it felt like freedom. The freedom to no longer worry about whether I looked confident or not, the freedom to show off my personality a little more, and, most importantly, the freedom to be comfortable yet presentable at interviews. Since the interview happened recently, I can’t say for certain if my plan worked (I’m now in the “waiting to hear back” phase) or not. I can say that I FELT better. I didn’t feel as though I was play-acting at a different, suit-wearing Lauren that only existed for certain occasions. I was my actual, professional self.
So while many people may recommend you wear a suit to the interview, know that you don’t have to if you don’t feel comfortable (and if you to, hey, great! Suit up!). There is no specific interview uniform; something I thought existed for a long time. I have decided it’s more important to be truer to you than look some kind of part.