Passion, Flexibility, Creativity …Trust Me, EVERYTHING Else Can Be Taught/Mentored

Marge Loch-WoutersThis interview is with Marge Loch-Wouters, who is the Youth Services Coordinator at La Crosse Public Library, which is in Wisconsin and has 50-100 staff members.  The Youth Services Department puts on over 1,100 events each year, reaching more than 30,000 children and teens. Ms. Loch-Wouters was the 2010 Wisconsin Library Association Librarian of the Year. You can read more about her perspective on Children’s Services on her blog: Tiny Tips for Library Fun. She has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.

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




…Trust me, EVERYTHING else can be taught/mentored.

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

A cover letter that is clearly boilerplate and has little to do with the job ad or description.

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

Objective Statements – Please have mercy on me. I already figured you wanted a job and want to change the world of librarianship as we know it.

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

Volunteer work within the last 4 years germane to the position.

I also want to say, please don’t repeat in your cover letter what is already in your resume. The cover letter is where you make your pitch on why YOU are THE perfect person for the exact job you see advertised. It is a more conversational piece where you highlight a trend or strength that appears as a mere fact in your resume. If your resume is solid and a match to our job, the cover letter is your best chance to get further in the door by showing some personality.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

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?


Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ I don’t care

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Be honest, pleasant and show me your knowledge (rather than showing off). I have interviewed many a new MLS – I have no expectations the candidate will know everything but I do appreciate when familiar with the current issues swirling around in library-land and in their specialty ( youth, adult, public libraries).

I also appreciate when the candidate clearly shows they have researched our library/community/region/state. Google and websites make candidates mighty!

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

Exaggeration; over-confidence; shyness – yes, wildly diverse issues and no one candidates clearly displays all.  We design the interview to explore a candidate’s competencies. Share what you know and don’t get too far off the beam.

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

No. We introduce some playfulness and challenges within the job ad that help us in the initial winnowing process. If you can’t play with us when you submit your bona fides, it indicates you may not have the chops for the job atmosphere here.

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

Be yourself. We’ll know if you’re a fit for our team. Interviewing is a two-way process; if we don’t select you, you probably didn’t want to select us!

1 Comment

Filed under 50-100 staff members, Original Survey, Public

One response to “Passion, Flexibility, Creativity …Trust Me, EVERYTHING Else Can Be Taught/Mentored

  1. great interview! I especially appreciate the comments about the cover letter not repeating the resume – I have always struggled with this, and these comments explain the approach really well. I think the cover letter is the hardest part of the job application!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.