Further Questions: Does HR screen applications before they even get to you?

Holiday schedule today here at Hiring Librarians! Here’s a Twitter question. This week I asked people who hire librarians:

Does HR screen applications before they even get to you?  If so, do they use a program that screens for keywords or do they use some other method?  Do you give them any instructions on what you are looking for?

Jacob BergYes, we have HR screen applications based on the desired qualifications.

Usually this is because we’ll ask for an MLIS or someone in an MLIS program, and HR can filter those folks, which gives library staff more time to consider those who fit the bill.

-Jacob Berg, Director of Library Services,  Trinity Washington University


angelynn kingYes, HR screens them manually for minimum qualifications.

Then they come to the committee.

-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus


For faculty librarians, HR does not screen applications before we see them.  Our library has our own HR department, who would be willing to screen but don’t insist on it.  In the searches I’ve been involved with the chair of the search committee, or search committee members, have done the screening.

– Anonymous


Our HR does not screen for the professional librarian positions, which means we even get a lot of job applicants without their MLS or who are otherwise not qualified. Now if we tried to hire someone who did not meet the minimum qualifications, HR would not let us.

For support staff positions, HR does screen the applicants. Most of this screening is looking for years of experience or education.

I know the job market is very tight right now, but I strongly encourage you to not apply for positions you are not qualified for. The library community is a lot smaller than you might think so applicants who apply for every open position could get a bad reputation among hiring managers.

– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries


Laurie PhillipsOur HR does not screen applications for faculty (librarian) positions. They do for library staff, but our faculty processes are different. The search committee chair develops a worksheet, based on the required and preferred qualifications.  Each person on the search committee goes through each application carefully and fills out the worksheet indicating the qualifications on the list that the person has. They then give the application a yes, no, or maybe vote. The committee goes through all of the applications together, about a week after the closing date, and makes a decision on whether each candidate will move forward to the next round. This is one of the reasons why, in our case, it is not helpful to contact the chair of the search committee before the closing date. At that point, we haven’t even been through all of the applications, so there would be nothing to say.

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


Christine Hage - Dark backgroundWe are a medium sized library and don’t really have an HR department. The applications are mailed to the manager that has posted the job. We don’t use any programs to scan the applications.  We just read them. Our instructions are included in the job posting and if they aren’t followed (cover letter, resume, answers to posed questions, formal online application), it doesn’t bode well for the candidate. If you can’t follow instructions in the application process, I’m not sure the candidate would follow them on the job. Following instructions is just as important as carefully wording the cover letter and answers to our questions. We are looking at grammar, layout, spelling and content.

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library


No, HR does not screen for us; we are in charge of our hiring process from start to finish.

We can set up screening questions in the hiring software the College uses, (i.e. do you have a master’s degree in library science from an ALA accredited institution? Would you be available to start work on October 1?) and then the applications are diverted to separate folders based on the score of the answers as determined by us (e.g. 50% or better goes in qualified, or only 100% sends an application into the qualified folder).

But we don’t use such criteria-based screening questions.  The one time we did use them people who were not qualified just said yes to everything, and some people who we would have counted as qualified excluded themselves by the way they interpreted the questions, so we ended up looking at all applications in all folders anyway.  Now we use the screening questions more like a phone or other preliminary interview, and we ask substantive questions about applicants’ experience or views, or about the area of librarianship (Access Services, Reference, etc.).  This works better to screen candidates than the other method did for us.

– Ann Glannon, Associate Director, Wheelock College Library, Boston, MA


Samantha Thompson-FranklinOur College HR office screens all applications for campus faculty positions using a program called Applicant Pro. They do an initial screening to make sure that the applicant meets the basic qualifications as outlined in the job ad and then notifies the search committee chair person. Beyond that the search committee does the more in-depth screening.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College 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 email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  Peg you better look around.  How many nights you think you can run that body down?  How many nights you think that you can comment what you been commenting?


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Public

2 responses to “Further Questions: Does HR screen applications before they even get to you?

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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