We Want to Hire the Best People We Can for the Position – and That’s Not Always the Ones Who Look Best on Paper

James Billington 13th Librarian of Congress

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 100-200 staff members.

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

1) do you meet the required qualifications (and can I tell that from your docs)
2) did you use your cover letter to tell me what you’d bring here (not just to any job, to this job and workplace specifically)
3) Can you communicate clearly in writing
Doing these three things pushes you above probably 50-75% of the candidates.

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

Misrepresentation of yourself/your qualifications.
Failure to meet the required qualifications – state agency, folks, so if we say it’s required, it really, really is. We try to be very clear about them, so please tell me that you meet them. Preferred qualifications are a different matter – you don’t have to meet them, but it’s really nice if you do have at least some of them.

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

Having it be all about you – and yes, it is about you, but it’s also about us and what you would bring.

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

Show that you’ve looked at the library’s website or the university’s. We put all kinds of documents out there that tell you what we think about things – our strategic plan, the university’s, mission statements…look at that stuff and sell yourself in relation to that. Don’t say “I looked at your website…” but more like “In the University’s strategic plan, I noticed that a focus area is blah blah blah. I can help the university support this university initiative based on my experience doing blah blah blah, (or item related to blah blah blah).

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ As many as it takes, but shorter is better

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: CV is diff from a resume. CV is as long as it takes. Resume…1-3 pages depending up how much experience you have.

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

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

√ Both as an attachment and in the body of the email

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

Ask intelligent questions about the university and the library. Be personable – all of us are potential coworkers!

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

We’re not ogres. We want to hire the best people we can for the position – and that’s not always the ones who look best on paper. Help us get to know you in your cover letter and interview, so we can see you as a potential colleague. I’m not saying be relaxed – it’s an interview, so put your best self forward. But don’t hide who you really are – whether you fit with the culture here is important to us – and should be to you too, so ask us the questions you need to ask to figure that out on your end.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

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