Further Questions: What is the likelihood for interviewing/hiring a candidate from out of state for a position in your library?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What is the likelihood for interviewing/hiring a candidate from out of state for a position in your library? Legally, applications likely need to be accepted, but in practical terms, how are distance candidates viewed? Is it necessary to disclose in the cover letter a willingness to relocate? What factors influence your institution’s stance?

Jason GrubbHiring decisions are not determined by where a candidate lives. Distance candidates are given the same consideration as local and internal candidates. A statement explaining why you want to relocate is more helpful than a statement saying you are willing to relocate. It is assumed if you have applied for a position that you are interested in the position and will be given full consideration.


– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System

J. McRee ElrodI have been hired, and have hired, from out of the country.  We want the best qualified person.  Yes it is good to indicate willingness to relocate, even mentioning things one likes about the location and institution gleaned from websites.



– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

- Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community CollegeWe are VERY likely to hire a candidate from out of state and two of the last five librarians hired were from out of state. In fact, because we are always challenged with finding money to not only advertise widely but also pay for bringing people in for interviews, we worked with our HR department to find a way for us to interview people from a distance while still being fair to all candidates. Our current process is that we can conduct a round of interviews first – electronically. This means that all candidates in the first round interview in exactly the same way. So if two are out of state and one is internal and the other is 30 minutes away, ALL candidates are first brought in electronically, even the internal candidate.

We accomplish this through using a Google Hangout, but we have also used Skype. One could also use the IPAD Face Talk approach. To use this process we:

  • Offer applicants an opportunity to practice beforehand using their equipment to our equipment. We make our administrative assistant coordinating the committee available to do this, the day before or the day above.
  • Offer to make handouts of their content – to add to the interview packet – and then we distribute the new content from the interviewee at the beginning of their interview.
  • Ask all candidates the very same questions in the same order with the exact amount of time allotted for answers/discussions, etc.

At the end of the first round, we can then bring one or more people in for an interview. This is an extremely cost-effective way to bring in applicants and expands our pool.

My opinion is that if you apply for a job with me, you are willing to relocate That is, I don’t want to know that you ONLY want the job just so you can move to Austin. And you may feel that way, I just don’t want to know it and it doesn’t give you ANY edge if you say it.

BUT I do want you to do your homework in advance to your advantage. That is, before you apply for a job with me, look at the city/surrounding areas. Is housing affordable, etc. What is in the community that would make you want to apply? And have you considered living issues at your current situation? Meaning – can you sell your house? Can your family move? One shouldn’t begin to think about these thing AFTER applying or when waiting to see if they are a finalist, for example. It might be too late to find out – after being offered the job – that you can’t afford to live here or you can’t afford to leave your current location.

We look at all candidates the same. Who is the best match for required AND preferred? Also, the interview committee weights its expected or potential answers or the grading rubric so that what is most important for us will sort applicants to the top. So if we are influenced by whether or not you had previous experience in a multi-location environment, the experience you have had with that type of environment, would possibly make you a finalist.

If you want to be VERY available, and you are from another area, you could do the following things:

  • Provide a separate cover letter to the packet that outlines your availability for interviewing.
  • Suggest a virtual interview mode and method.
  • Indicate that you will “in town” or nearby and could come for an interview on a variety of upcoming dates.
  • You could give me options of supporting the process, that is, you might say you will be in the area on these dates so the library doesn’t have to pay travel to but rather one night only in a hotel.
  • You could offer to meet at a conference coming up for a preliminary interview or a meet and greet.

So don’t make me hunt through your packet to find out this information. Put it up front! Match what I am asking for to your credentials or situation very specifically so I can easily assess your application.

– Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College

Laurie Phillips

This is almost an irrelevant question in our case. We (librarians) are faculty and faculty searches are always national. We expect that most of our candidates will be coming from a distance. We assume that someone wouldn’t apply if they weren’t interested in relocating here. The university pays for travel and expenses to interview on campus and pays a good portion of relocation costs. In our last search, we had two finalists who were local and that was highly unusual.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Because of our low population, we regularly hire from out of state. Sometimes we have no local applicants at all. However, we do still expect to see some sort of acknowledgment of not just their willingness to move but specifically their willingness to move to North Dakota and why. We do get ‘practice’ applications and try to weed those out. Skype means that we’re not wasting money flying in someone insincere for an interview (which we always did at our own expense) but we still don’t want to waste our time.

– Kristen Northrup, Head, Technical Services, North Dakota State Library

Petra MauerhoffAt our regional library system (in Alberta, Canada) we definitely consider candidates from out of province. For the more specialized positions such as systems librarians we have considered candidates from the US in the past.
A willingness to relocate is assumed when I receive an application.
We have very successfully hired from out of province, including from all the way across the country, and would do so again, if the right candidate came along for a position.
We often receive applications from overseas, from candidates that, on paper, generally have no qualifications directly related to the position we advertise. These are the applications we do not give any consideration, as the applications appear to be sent out at random, to any available position.
For us, it is all about finding the best candidate for the position we have available.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System

Rich MurrayI get this question fairly often—“Do I need to tell them in my cover letter that I am willing to relocate?” My answer is always no, because common sense tells me as Hiring Professional that you wouldn’t be wasting your time or our time by applying for our job if you had no intention of relocating for it. At Duke, we consider all our professional positions to be nationwide searches. I’ve worked at three academic libraries and all three operated this way. If you are the best candidate, it doesn’t matter to us if you are down the street or on the other side of the country. If ALL other things are equal, we would probably prefer the local candidate just because we wouldn’t have to pay relocation expenses and because he or she could probably start sooner, but all other things are very rarely completely equal.

The only time location can become an issue for us is if you are outside the US and are not a US citizen or legally authorized to work in the US, because then there are all sorts of hoops we have to jump through to hire you, which can be very difficult and sometimes impossible.

All that said, if you are applying for a job that’s far away and  you reach the stage where they want you to come in for an in-person interview, you need to ask whether they will pay your travel expenses for that visit. They should volunteer this information, but if they don’t, ask. They will also tell you whether they will book the travel for you or whether you should book it yourself and they will reimburse you later. Similarly, if they offer you the job, you should ask whether there are relocation expenses included. This is actually one of the areas in which candidates often have more negotiating power: one-time costs like relocation expenses cost the organization less than an ongoing expense like a salary increase, so they may be more willing and/or able to move on that figure.

– Rich Murray, Catalog Librarian for Spanish & Portuguese Languages and Rare Books, Duke University Libraries

Celia RabinowitzWe advertise for library faculty positions nationally because we hope to attract a really diverse pool of candidates.  I am a strong believer in geographic diversity so that we don’t have faculty who might all have come through the same one or two library programs and who also bring different experiences and perspectives.  A local candidate might allow us to bring an additional candidate to campus if we have a large pool simply because the campus visit is less expensive for someone local (although the time commitment is still the same).  If an excellent candidate were located very far way (outside the US) we might have to consult with HR about funding limits for travel, but I think we would try to focus on qualifications first.  I always find it curious that applicants indicate their willingness to relocate.  Why would someone apply for a job that required relocation if they weren’t willing to do that?  There is never a guarantee they will want to relocate to your institution and location once they visit.  But if a candidate applies for a job, has an on-campus interview, but doesn’t really intend to relocate they have, in my opinion, not been fair or honest in the process and that costs the candidate and us time and money.

– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH

Jessica OlinI’ve yet to hire for a MLIS/MLS required position, but I was brought in from the Midwest to the Mid Atlantic for the interview. Recent faculty hires have been from a broad geographic range. On the other hand, for part time positions that don’t require a specific degree, we tend to only hire locally (although if I got an application from someone who seemed perfect and who was already planning to move to the area anyway, I’d try to finagle a Skype interview).


– Jessica Olin, Director of Parker Library, Wesley College

angelynn kingCommunity colleges generally recruit locally or regionally by default, as we do not pay interview expenses, but candidates who are prepared to travel on their own are certainly competitive. (I was an out-of-state hire myself.) I think I would assume that someone applying from a long distance was willing to relocate; however, if a candidate were applying from a “long commute” distance I might stress that we do sometimes work non-standard hours, just to make sure that was not a deal-breaker. That point would be made to all candidates, of course.

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

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.

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2 responses to “Further Questions: What is the likelihood for interviewing/hiring a candidate from out of state for a position in your library?

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