Don’t Try to be Funny

National Archives Staff, 1984

This anonymous interview is with someone from an Academic library who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.  This person’s library has 100-200 staff members.  When asked “Are you a librarian?”, this person left the answer blank.

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

They are specifically interested in and qualified for the job
They are able to make a case for their specific experience qualifying them for the job
They have demonstrated initiative in their previous work or academic experience

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

Not making it clear they are interested in THIS JOB as opposed to any job; not having done much (or any) research about my library before coming to interview. Well, and not having whatever experience we’ve indicated is required.

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

Humor. Don’t try to be funny. Don’t try to be clever. No pictures!

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

Occasionally people fail to explain what they did in a given position, at least insofar as it relates the job they are applying for. Also, please tell me if the job was full or part time.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Other: One for an entry-level position, more as the position goes up the ladder.

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Other: As many as it takes, but enough is enough. It doesn’t have to be short and sweet, but I don’t need to know minor committees you were on.

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?

√ As an attachment only

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

Answer my questions (it’s okay to have to ask me to repeat a multi-part question). Don’t just use buzz words or jargon: convince me you know what it means by also using normal language. Give me solid examples that illustrate what you are talking about.

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

Trying to be someone they aren’t (which includes asking what my ideal candidate would be like). Not having good questions for me.

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

We used to call references before we did on campus interviews (weird, I know); now we do phone interviews with short-list candidates instead. We stopped requiring transcripts as part of the application process.


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

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