If you have applied to work at the library I know you like books

Interior of Townsville library, ca. 1948This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager  and a member of a hiring committee.  This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members.

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

1. Ability to do the job
2. Right organizational fit
3. Originality – what can you offer that no one else can?

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

Filling the application form out incorrectly or not signing the application form is a dealbreaker. In an interview, a lack of eye contact is a dealbreaker.

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

I am tired of seeing how much people like books and really want to work at the library. I’m looking for something unique. If you have applied to work at the library I know you like books and I know you want to work for the library.

Also, I’m tired of seeing the same opening sentence on cover letters – “I was excited to learn . . . ” or “I am interested in the . . . ” Find a way to stand out.

I could also do without “references available upon request.” We ask for references on our application form. Why would you then put this statement on a resume?

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

Any work and volunteer experience that is unrelated to the library profession.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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?

1. Be unique
2. Talk about what you are able to offer the library and the community
3. Be enthusiastic
4. Have a question or two to ask at the end of the interview
5. Provide succinct answers that clearly address the questions asked

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

1. Not answering the questions completely
2. Talking too much
3. Showing up late

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

I’ve reduced the number of questions we ask in each interview, gone to second interviews with almost every position we hire, called more references – those provided and those not provided, asked candidates to complete a task during the interview – presentation, project, pre-employment test.

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

Hiring decisions are not made based upon a resume or cover letter. The purpose of these documents is to get you an interview. Take your time and customize your resume and cover letter for the job you applying to. I can spot a resume that is being used for multiple applications from one that was customized. The extra effort almost always results in an interview. Highlight how you specifically meet the job requirements and what you can provide the organization you are applying to. Speak in terms of their interests not yours.


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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Original Survey

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