Further Questions: How often does your library communicate with applicants throughout the process?

This week we asked people who hire librarians:

How often does your library communicate with applicants throughout the process–from notification of receipt of application onwards? A common refrain in job seeker surveys on Hiring Librarians is that job seekers want more communication throughout the hiring process (i.e. at each stage). Is this realistic? Why or why not? An insight into your processes may give job seekers better expectations for what to expect.

Thank you all for your responses! This is can be a difficult issue for job seekers who have never been “on the other side” to understand. The last respondent, Melanie Lightbody, asks job seekers: How often do you expect to be communicated with and what types of communication would work for you? If you are (or have been) a job seeker, please reply in the comments OR email a response to hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com for inclusions in a future post. Inclusions can be anonymous–just mention that! Thanks!

Laurie Phillips

This is particularly relevant for me right now because I am currently chairing a search for a tenure track librarian. I email each applicant to confirm receipt of his or her application or to let them know if there is a problem with an attachment, etc. After that, there is very little communication unless the person reaches the next round. We do not routinely contact people who don’t make the cut at each round. We really can’t because we haven’t finished the search. I email anyone we have interviewed to let them know that we have offered the job to another candidate. I used to call people at that level, but I was told that applicants prefer email. In an academic search, even the top candidates won’t hear from us until at least a week after the job closes. We generally don’t do a final review of applications until after the job closes and we’ll set a meeting for about a week later to go through all of the applications together. After that, we start calling people for phone/Skype interviews. I suppose, if someone contacted me, I could give them the general plan for the search, but not much else. If you’re interested in working for me, check out the ad: http://library.loyno.edu/blog/?p=3691
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Celia RabinowitzI was director at my previous institution for ten years. We communicated at regular stages throughout the process and they included: (1) acknowledging receipt of an applications – this shifted from paper to email at some point, (2) notification to applicants who were eliminated very early in the search because they did not meet minimum qualifications. This is where it gets tricky. Generally we don’t want to send notifications to people not included in the phone interview pool if we think we might want to include them once we do the first round. And then we don’t want to notify phone interview candidates that they are not coming to campus until after the in-person interviews just in case we want to go back to that group if we need to. This may account for gaps in communication that can be frustrating or in responses to requests for information that seem deliberately obtuse. We would hate to lose a good candidate among many so we might opt for “stringing” someone along for a bit.

But I think it is very important to notify candidates at any point when it is clear that they are no longer a viable applicant, and we always contact every candidate who does not move forward or who is not selected. This may be easier at a smaller institution. We had two recent searches and received in the range of 40-60 applications for each.
– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH.

If we advertise for a position, we respond when we invite a number of applicants for interviews; once the position is filled, we send something to all applicants that the position  has been filled.

I would also like to send an email or a post card to let applicants know that their application has been received. We don’t do this because we seem to get a very large number of applications especially when we have a full time position to fill. With e mail this should be easier.

– Kaye Grabbe, Lake Forest Library

Melanie LightbodyCandidates are communicated with at each step of the process.  Some of the processes take weeks and weeks, however, especially if there are many applicants.

1)      Candidates apply for the open position on our website.  There should be notification that they’ve submitted their application automatically generated.

2)       The application closes and then when HR can schedule the time, the initial culling is done.    When that is done, the candidate is notified whether or not they meet the minimum qualifications.  Sometimes there is quite a delay at this step.  I believe they are notified if they don’t meet the MQs.

3)      All candidates who meet minimum requirements are scheduled for an oral examination.  This may take a month or more to set up. This is generally an oral interview with set questions.  Currently, we do most of these by telephone. Candidates are notified of their score within a week or two +.  Those who score too low are out.  Those who score high enough are put on a hiring list which is good for six months to a year.

Now there may not be any more communication for quite a while, depending on when or if they are scheduled for a final interview.  The lower the candidates score the less likely it is they’ll be called right away or at all.  This may be our last contact with the candidate.  The email/letter they receive basically tells them that, I believe.

4)      The top several candidates are invited for a final interview.  They are notified one way or another.

Here is my question back to job seekers:  How often do you expect to be communicated with and what types of communication would work for you?

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

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 us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you liked reading, you’re going to really love COMMENTING.

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