This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager at a library with 10-50 staff members.
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?
Authenticity, confidence, and character.
Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?
Plenty. I’ll divide this into sections for clarity:
Application Packet Dealbreakers:
1) Bad grammar, spelling, punctuation.
2) Excess use of needless or corporate language (“utilize”).
1) Bringing a friend or significant other to the interview.
2) Lack of confidence.
3) Lack of eye contact.
4) Demonstrated lack of formative experience.
5) Someone who tries to be what they think I want them to be. I don’t want a candidate to pretend; I want to see who a candidate really is. I am more likely to hire someone authentic and confident, and throw away the application from the disingenuous, spineless, unsure person. Be real.
What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?
I am tired of seeing the excessive use of passive voice, and statements like, “I am uniquely qualified to fill this position” / “I am the right person for this job” / “I am perfect for this.”
Keep it short, keep it cogent, and be genuine, above all things.
Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?
Some indicator of their authentic self. I had one person put “roller derby” in her special skills / interests section. I hired her.
Don’t centralize this; don’t stick your hobbies in the middle of the resume, but DO put it at the bottom of a sidebar.
Another thing I don’t see in resumes often, and I wish I did: better formatting. I like a resume to be arranged visually like a website. A header with personal information. Employment history on the left side (2/3 of the page) with a sidebar on the right side of the page, including educational experience, special skills, and personal interests.
I like resumes that are one page long, and formatted according to the rule of threes (described above).
How many pages should a cover letter be?
√ Two is ok, but no more
How many pages should a resume/CV be?
√ Only one!
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?
Let the guise fall. Do not fake anything. If you have no library experience, and rather, spent the past ten years with a traveling circus, I’ll consider you if you’re confident, interesting, and genuine about it.
Ask yourself, “What do I REALLY think?” and share it. Be completely straight about it. Look me in the eye and tell me who you are and what you really think.
This kind of authenticity and confidence is not taught in schools nor is it necessarily encouraged in our culture, but when I find it in people, I hire them and encourage its development. The best jobs are those where you can be yourself and say, again, what you really think. Don’t waste my time with disingenuous behavior or silly edifice. I’m not interested in that.
What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?
1) “I love books / I love libraries.” This is hackneyed. Ugh.
2) “Ever since I was a little girl/boy I’ve wanted to be a librarian.” This is almost always a lie. Librarianship is often a second-choice field. It comes after people spend a couple of years trying to be an artist/ conservator/ writer etc. It’s a practical career for an artistic or literary type. So don’t tell me it was your dream. It’s a great job, but it’s nobody’s dream.
3) Too many people put on their insincere, nervous, aiming-to-please interview face. The interview face is just a barricade between me and full understanding of a candidate. It is a problem to fix, not an asset. Please do away with the interview face. Just be straight with your interviewers. Don’t try to tell them what you think they want to hear.
4) Don’t chew gum, wear paisley, show up late, etc. There are standards.
How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?
It’s less formal and more individualized now. I have twenty minute, informal conversations with candidates and make decisions based on my intuitions about that person.
Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?
Don’t be afraid to be genuine and confident. Let your authentic self show through as much as possible. Finding a job is like finding a partner: if you’re honest, you will attract those who like you for who you really are. If you are dishonest, you will find yourself unhappy in an ill-fitting situation. So know who you REALLY are, let it show, and have faith that things will work out for the best.