If You are Internal, Take the Interview Seriously

Senior Library Staff, London School of Economics, c1990sThis anonymous interview is with an Academic Librarian who has been a member of a hiring committee and a member of a search committee (the committee does not hire), for a library with 10-50 staff members.



What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

Presentation skills–both presenting the self and making the case on various trends in academic librarianship.
Assertiveness, persuasive ability and leadership for library faculty and managers.
Professionalism—demonstrated by preparation, grooming, communication and deep knowledge about trends in academia and academic librarianship.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

When a candidate writes the same cover letter for multiple institutions and in so doing forgets to change the name of our institution.
When the cover letter does not reference the qualifications required by the position.
Failure to do his/her homework on our institution and library such that the person is unaware of the mission, key milestones, nature of the student body, etc.
Inability to think on one’s feet or formulate a response on the phone or face to face.  Interviews require practice and rehearsal.
Demonstrated lack of technological know-how in the classroom presentation.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

Routine and boring  cover letters that do not demonstrate specific interest in working at my institution or for our library.Why should I want to call you for  a telephone interview,  much less invite you for a F2F interview, if you have not demonstrated knowledgeable interest in the institution or the library?
Letters and resumes that are poorly put together, do not pay attention to details, and basically do not sell the individual’s talents and experience.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

I like full resumes because it tells me their path to the current phase of their lives.  Some candidates do not flesh out their professional development learning activities or some particular stand -out achievements in their various jobs.  Cover letters should tell me about the individual –how the person communicates in writing, their passion for librarianship, what the person will do for our institution and our library.  The cover letter should present a compelling case for a telephone or F2F interview.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, I want to look at every accomplishment

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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 well prepared, professional, and offer clear and articulate responses to the question.
Demonstrate that you really want this job.
Be honest about what you don’t know.
If you are internal, take the interview seriously.  Don’t assume because “they” know me that you don’t have to compete.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

Underpreparation, speaking in generalities rather than specifics.
Lack of rehearsal (let’s face we can’t all go in and wing it.)
Poor grooming, too casual.
Overtalking in a classroom presentation.
Lack of composure and professionalism.
Lack of social graces.

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

Background checks and criminal clearances are required for almost all positions.
A former employee who resigned cannot be hired back without Senior Administration approval.
Library faculty and managers have day long interview process.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Do your homework, compete for the job, be able to articulate why you want to work for this library, this institution.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

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