That MLS and Undergraduate Degree, Everyone Has One


This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. This person works at a public library with more than 200 staff members.

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

match of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the specific job
interpersonal skills
passion for people

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

 This depends on the job and on what the candidate says. For example, a cataloging job would cause me to look very closely at details of the application. A candidate who says “detail-oriented”, better be just that.

In the interview: more than 15 minutes late (though I can easily understand emergencies–in that case, the candidate should ask to re-schedule), obvious lack of knowledge about or interest in the employer and/or the specific position.

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

Objectives. Why? We all know you want a job.

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

Generally, librarians do a great job. What people should remember though is that *every single candidate* meets the minimum qualifications. So, that MLS and undergraduate degree, everyone has one. What makes you different? What do you bring that other candidates don’t? How might you be a better fit for the job? Once, a candidate neglected to mention on her resume that she had been the treasurer of a touring choir (based in her church, but acting as a 501(c)3) in an interview for a job that required budgeting skills. She did mention this in the interview, but almost didn’t get considered (she got the job, by the way).

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

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?

√  .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?

Be prompt, know about the job, use humor appropriately, be yourself (not a plastic version of a librarian). Pay attention to the questions. Don’t be afraid to challenge the logic of the questions. Ask a few questions yourself.

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

 Generic answers.

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

In each organization where I’ve had a hiring role, I’ve moved to include more peers and immediate supervisors in the hiring process.


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Filed under 200+ staff members, Original Survey, Public

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