Practice interviewing skills with someone.

Fruit Venders, Indianapolis Market, aug., 1908. Wit., E N Clopper. Location Indianapolis, Indiana.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:

Mostly general librarians. Our professional staff is divided into reference, programming and collection selectors.

This librarian works at a library with 50-100 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?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 26-50 %

And how would you define “hirable”?

Someone with the skills and knowledge to do the job, and most importantly a positive attitude and the people skills to get along with colleagues and patrons.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR weeds through to determine if applicants meet the minimum qualifications. I meet with HR to make a determination on the one they think are questionable or borderline. Then we award points based on desirable qualifications above the minimum. We interview the top candidates and move down the list as other openings occur. Lists typically are good for one year, or until we have interviewed all candidates.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

If they don’t meet the minimum qualifications.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Other: Yes, if they ask. Most do not.

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Give enough information on the application to indicate minimum qualifications. Be sure to include any experience in other areas or volunteer that might substitute for the minimum qualifications. Don’t put so much detail that it is overwhelming. Bullet points are good. Remember that someone is reading many applications, and looking for a reason to whittle that number down to manageable size.
Practice interviewing skills with someone. Give enough detail to let the panel know that you have the knowledge and skills required and that you have a positive and enthusiastic attitude, but also know when to quit talking.

I want to hire someone who is


How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 50-100

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 3-4

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are fewer positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?


Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

Do you have any other comments, for job hunters or about the survey?

If you are not hired for a position it is not necessarily that you are not qualified or the panel “didn’t like you.” Sitting on an interview panel is not easy. Usually there is only one position open, and several very qualified candidates. The panel needs to select only one, and many factors come into play, such as the need to fit someone into an existing work group, or a skill, such as a second language ability that is a bonus for a particular candidate where the choice may be between two otherwise equally qualified candidates.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

Leave a comment

Filed under 50-100 staff members, Public, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015, Western US

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.