This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at a library with more than 200 staff members.
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?
Enthusiasm, their core values (such as respect, openness to others’ opinions), and interest in making true contributions to the position/organization.
Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?
Not mentioning the library by name or, worse, naming another library entirely! A single typo can be ignored but multiple incorrect spellings will sink you. Not meeting the minimum job requirements.
What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?
Objective statements. They are not useful for library positions. Lack of context for some of the committee work listed. Listing every CE course you’ve taken, or conference you’ve attended. That helps fill out a less experienced librarian’s CV early in their career, but is not useful after they have a year or two under their belt.
Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?
Evidence of why they have the skillset for the position. If you are a career changer, make the case in your CV for your transferable skills. If you are moving from one type of library to another, show us why your experience supports our taking a chance on you. The resume is very important, particularly when you are competing for a position against dozens of candidates who can state their case more eloquently.
How many pages should a cover letter be?
√ Two is ok, but no more
How many pages should a resume/CV be?
√ Other: I don’t want to see every accomplishment — I want to see the majority of your experience but if you have 10 pages of experience, can you narrow that down to the 5-6 most relevant items? The longer your career and the more senior the position has an effect.
Do you have a preferred format for application documents?
Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?
If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?
√ As an attachment only
What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?
Be honest and genuine. Have prepared fully, both yourself (lots of rest the night before, good healthy eating habits in general so you have adequate energy) and your stories. I need to convinced that you will add value to my organization. Have intelligent questions beyond the immediate library where you’ll work — we’re almost all part of larger organizations, and if you’re not interested beyond your work team, I don’t want you on my staff. Know who the head administrators are, what the strategic directions are, etc.
What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?
Chew gum! Arrive late. Aren’t friendly. Treat different people differently (this is the cardinal sin and I’ve seen candidates drop from #1 to off the list b/c of this). Don’t be arrogant. Wear appropriate, comfortable clothing. Ask when you don’t understand jargon or what the interviewers are saying/asking. Be professional at all times, even when you don’t think someone is watching you, as they may be.
How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?
It’s about the same.
Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?
Look to mentors to help you prepare for your interview. Have friends/bosses review your application materials. Tell your boss you’re applying — it doesn’t mean you’re jumping ship — so that they can support you.