Rigorous Interviews, with Performance and Writing Tests

Cathi AllowayThis interview is with Catherine Alloway, who is a hiring manager and the Library Director of Schlow Centre Region Library in State College, PA. State College here indicates the name of the borough, not an actual college; Schlow library is a public library, with 10-50 staff members. In fact, Ms. Alloway has more than 30 years of experience managing public libraries. She is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Library Association and a Consultant with The Ivy Group, Ltd. You can view more details of her professional profile on LinkedIn. She is the one on the right, in the photograph.

Note:  Remember how this interview was the last from the original survey?  Well, the survey is still open, and we’ve had seven more since then!  I’ve got one more non-anonymous that will go up next week, and then I’ll be posting them on Sundays.  If you are someone who hires librarians, you can take the survey here.

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

Enthusiasm for working HERE

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

No typos or grammatical errors
Not meeting the basic requirements for the job in education, experience, but applying anyway and NOT addressing the shortcoming in the cover letter.

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

–an elevator speech – why should I hire you? Don’t simply repeat what is in the resume.
–why are you enthusiastic about our library? What made you apply and what appealed to you about working here?
–tell us about additional interests or activities that tell us more about you
–address, upfront, any concerns like employment gaps, why you are interested in a downsized job, etc.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .doc

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care.

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?

Energy, enthusiasm for our library, good sense of humor.

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

Answers too long or too short. Restraint – don’t see enthusiasm, humor, good nature shining through. Looking and acting terrified.

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

Much more rigorous interviews, with performance and writing tests. Performance – giving a presentation, etc.

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


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

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