Further Questions: Do you do any sort of pre-employment testing?

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

Do you do any sort of pre-employment testing?  Do applicants have to take a multiple choice test, or provide a writing sample, or do a presentation/sample lesson?  Why does your workplace do this, and how can candidates prepare?

Laurie Phillips

We don’t do any formal pre-employment testing. We consider the cover letter a writing sample and we always have on-campus interviewees do a presentation. All of our librarians are expected to be liaisons and teach so presentation skills are a must, although teaching experience is not a requirement.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library SystemThe only testing we have done so far is related to cataloguing positions. We make candidates go through a cataloguing test and we advise them that there will be a test when we schedule the interview. Most candidates review course work related to cataloguing or just  cataloguing rules in general in order to prepare.

It provides us with a general idea on the candidate’s comfort level with cataloguing rules.
Of course we take into consideration the pressure of the interview environment and this test is not the only evaluation tool we use when we interview cataloguers.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System
J. McRee Elrod
Candidates are asked to submit a test .mrc file of MARC records.
The only time I was administered a test was for a civil service position.
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Samantha Thompson-FranklinIn our state, people applying for classified staff position (and library assistant positions at my institution fall in this category) are required to fill out an application form with the state first before they can apply for a position on campus. So I guess that would qualify as a pre-employment test. I have never applied for a classified position so I don’t know about the process, why it is required or the type of application form that a person is required to complete for the state.
– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library
Cathi Alloway
During the first tier, we have a timed writing test. We give an essay question about a library trend or issue and give them 30 minutes to write a response.  This is usually very enlightening!
– Catherine Alloway, Director, Schlow Centre Region Library

Marge Loch-WoutersWe actually ask our top ten-twenty candidates to answer two of three essay questions. These essays give us a surprisingly strong look at the candidate. We look at how well they communicate; express thoughts; follow points made cogently; know current youth services practices and really write creatively. 

The best way to prepare is what I suggest to all candidates: bring your best self to the table of writing and thinking. This is much like graduate level assignments- it is clear who is doing A level; B level and, well,  mediocre thinking.

– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library


Marleah Augustine



Easy answer for me this week: we don’t do any of those. Thanks! 🙂

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please contact me.

Thank YOU for reading!  Anytime you want me Mommy, reach out and leave a comment


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Public

2 responses to “Further Questions: Do you do any sort of pre-employment testing?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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