Here’s another question inspired by a reader. I asked people who hire librarians:
Would a candidate’s travel plans be a dealbreaker? For example, a reader has a seventeen day trip planned in three months. Would this be a negative factor in your decision? Would you prefer to learn about it during the interview, or is it ok if the candidate waits to reveal until a job offer has been made?
I had a one-week trip prebooked when I was hired at my current library, so no, it’s not a dealbreaker for us!
One of our standard interview questions is whether the candidate could start right away, so that would be an appropriate time for them to bring it up. If there isn’t a question like that, I’d at least ask about how soon they need that space filled (is the previous person still there for a bit?), what sort of training schedule there is, etc. It would probably not be appreciated to spring it on them post-offer.
Of course, the hiring process is so stretched out for so many libraries, and so many new hires need time to relocate from other states, that three months out may not even turn into an issue.
– Kristen Northrup, Head, Technical Services & State Document Depository, North Dakota State Library
A 17-day trip should be brought up if and when the start date or schedule comes up in the interview. It is more critical to bring it up sooner if the library has a notable staff shortage, if the trip comes during their busy time (i.e. start of the semester) or is a sub job (i.e. temporary to replace someone on medical leave). Otherwise if it’s a 2-week or less trip, it can come up during negotiations.
– Catherine Alloway, Director, Schlow Centre Region Library
I’d prefer to hear about it in the interview so I truly know what their availability is. Now, if I knew that the applicant’s travel plans were going to occur during an inconvenient time for the organization, it may give me pause; however, the potential for that employee goes beyond what their next three months’ plans entail. If I’m confident that they will do everything they can to get up to speed prior to their outside obligations and continue on in that fashion afterward, then the goods outweigh the potential negative of just being gone for a few days. All in all, knowing sooner is much better than later, and if you’re a candidate who will fit well with the organization, then it shouldn’t be an issue.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
We would try to work it out. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but we’re not hiring someone for what happens in three months and it wouldn’t prejudice us in the hiring process. We’re hiring tenure-track faculty who will progress through the ranks and succeed here. Depending on how the trip fell and when in the fiscal year the person was hired, the person might have to take some of the days unpaid. If someone is hired mid-year, we generally pro-rate the annual vacation (20 days). If the trip fell in September, there might be issues just with workload and coverage. None of us would ever take a vacation during that time under normal circumstances. But if it were a one-time thing that were already planned, we’d deal with it. And if I were a candidate, I wouldn’t mention it until negotiations. Or perhaps with the potential supervisor during the on-campus interview. Before that, it wouldn’t be relevant.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
I prefer to know within the interview process. Would it be a deal-breaker? No, not if we are very interested in the professional skills and mightiness the candidate would bring to the position. Often, the hiring department has been working short-staffed so the prospect of another short-staffing situation may be acceptable. However, the institution may also have its hands tied in terms of benefits and cannot offer paid time for something occurring before a probationary period is up (3-12 months).
Still and all, the more information at the interview stage the better. If this came up in the negotiation, I would definitely have a “bait-and-switch” feeling unless it was clear that this situation had come up since the interview. While we always expect some negotiation, when both parties come to the table aware of extenuating circumstances, results can often be better.
Remember, as much time as a candidate is putting into the application process, the hiring manager/committee/institution is also pouring into the process of hiring – multiplied by the number of viable candidates. No one wants their time wasted. Be kind, be honest, be professional.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
You should assume that the person you are hiring has a life-and perhaps travel or vacation plans. It should not be a deal breaker if this is the person you want for a professional job. It would be ok if the person revealed it after the offer-since it should not affect your decision. My experience is that candidates tend to mention this during the interview process however.
– Kaye Grabbe, Director, Lake Forest (Public) Library, Lake Forest, IL
A candidate’s travel plans should not factor in to the decision to hire at all. That being said, you do not need to tell them anything personal at all until after an offer is made (travel plans, family concerns, upcoming surgery, etc.) In academic libraries, it is not uncommon for an employer to wait a few months for a candidate to start so you could suggest your start date after your trip. At that point they may tell you they need you to start sooner and would rather you just take the time off. If you do have that long of a trip planned though, you likely will not have enough vacation time and will probably have to go without pay so I would also mention that you understand that you would likely have to lose pay during that time.
– Julie Leuzinger, Department Head, Eagle Commons Library, University of North Texas Libraries
It wouldn’t be an issue for me, but I would want to know about it ASAP.
My first librarian job happened to be offered to me the same time that I was getting married. I stated that I would be in Jamaica for 14 days during my interview process. If it had been a deal breaker, I don’t know if I would have wanted to work there.
– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library
Pre-planned travel wouldn’t be a negative factor in the decision, but I would not bring it up during the interview. If you get an offer, that’s when you negotiate everything, including letting the hiring official know that you had plans for that travel; that way they can have the heads-up and plan around you, but it doesn’t impact their hiring decision at all. It wouldn’t be a negative factor for me in the decision-making were I on the committee (I understand people have lives and may have carry-over commitments), but to make it easy on the applicant and avoid anyone on the committee dinging you for it, leave it until the job offer.On a personal note with this topic – I was offered a new position while I was in the middle of a low-residency MFA that required I attend a residency for 10-days out of state each fall and spring (during highly inconvenient times for academic library folk – before Thanksgiving and before Memorial Day). During the offer I made it clear that I would have to be away those days; the director and my boss-to-be acknowledged it and said it wouldn’t be a problem.-Colleen Harris-Keith, Head of Access Services & Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Lupton Library
Actually, I have had that situation with a candidate wishing to attend her sister’s wedding in France shortly after the start date. Other than an understandable jealousy about wanting a nice trip to France myself, I had no problem with it. It was also helpful that it was during the summer when things tend to be slower here. Regardless of timing, however, that is the kind of thing I would like to work out if possible.The candidate did let me know early in the interview process that this was coming up, and I appreciated her being forthright with the information. It had absolutely no effect on her candidacy one way or the other.
– Randall Schroeder, Director of Libraries, Archives and Media at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota
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! You see this kind of chick in every town, Whenever there’s a scene she’s always commentin’ around