This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:
branch librarians, children’s librarians.
This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a rural area in the Western US.
Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?
√ 25 or fewer
Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?
√ 25% or less
And how would you define “hirable”?
Suited for the job, by temperament and interests, not just interested in being employed (which I certainly sympathize with, but need to find someone who will like what they do, fit in, and stay a reasonable amount of time in the position). Some indication in work experience or background that indicates that they can lead and supervise, as librarians in our rural county are all supervisors or managers in some way, either of people or programs or both.
How are applications evaluated, and by whom?
All applications are screened by HR for qualifications. The ones that meet qualifications are given numerical scores based on how well they meet them and are ranked on a list. The department receives the first 8-12 names on the list. If we interview and don’t find a good fit in the first batch, we can request the next set of names on the list.
What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?
We interview everyone who comes to us from HR, unless we have interviewed them before and know they will not be a good fit in our organization. Applicants are disqualified before they get to us (i.e., do not make it onto the list we see) if they do not meet qualifications as spelled out in the job description and/or if their applications are incomplete.
Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?
√ Other: No – we are not allowed to.
What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?
Answer the questions. Don’t bullshit – we can tell. Remember that an interview is a two-way street for determining a good fit. If you like a job site, keep applying. Sometimes I meet a great candidate in one set of interviews, but they don’t get that particular job … but I’m hoping they will apply for a different job, which I know they’d be perfect for. In those situations, I will often give them a personal call after the interview to let them know they didn’t get the job but that I hope they will reapply the next time the position is posted and/or I hope they will reapply if they see a job posting for xxx. And I usually call them when another position opens to let them know it’s been posted.
I want to hire someone who is
How many staff members are at your library/organization?
How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?
Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?
√ Other: It increased, then decreased during the Great Recession
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?
√ Other: 2 positions were temporarily reduced to 35 hours per week. Have now been restored to FT.
Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?
Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?
General work experience, but not library experience. I was hired fresh out of library school 10 years ago with internships but no work experience in libraries.
Is librarianship a dying profession?
Why or why not?
We connect people with information. There will always be a need for that service. Public libraries serve many roles in the community and those roles are still important. Our value is there – we just need to be continually communicating that value.
Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?
It is hard to be looking for a job. Hirers know that. We have all been in your position and if someone is arrogant or disrespectful of that relationship, then you don’t want to work for them, anyway. It’s so important to remember that the interview process is a two-way street. We are looking for a good employee, but you should also be interviewing us to look for a good fit for you. That’s why it’s vital that you are prepared and informed about our organization and community and have good questions for us.
Do you hire librarians? Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.
For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.