Show us why you are truly interested in THIS job at THIS library

Vegetable and flower seller and stall, Pike Place Market, Seattle, WashingtonThis 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:

library managers (aka senior librarians, branch librarians, library supervisors) and 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”?

Meet minimum qualifications and show the ability to do or learn the techniques needed for the particular job, which always include being able to work with other staff, a diverse public, and library supporters/community leaders.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR first weeds out applications that don’t meet the minimum qualifications as laid out in the job specification. For example, if we ask for an MLS and 2 years of library experience, and the application fails to show that experience, the application never even makes it to a hiring manager. If HR receives more than a certain number of applications, then we must go through an examination process to rank applicants before moving to the hiring interview. The examination may be written, multiple choice, or “interview-style.”

These are countywide procedures, not specific to our department.

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

Aside from being disqualified for meeting minimum job specification requirements, we might not interview someone who has made no effort to show how they fit the qualifications for the particular position. For example, someone with 30 years of adult reference experience applying for a literacy outreach job should not fail to include a cover letter or other information on the application that describes their ability to step into such a different position. If the resume seems generic or targeted for some other job, we may not interview. I have seen people submit resumes that list an “objective” that has absolutely nothing to do with the job for which they are applying.

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

√ Other: Yes, on request

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

Always customize each job application, resume, and cover letter. Show us why you are truly interested in THIS job at THIS library and not just looking for some job, somewhere. Show that you have done some research about what the position and organization are like, and that you can see yourself contributing here. For example, if you’ve only worked in cataloging/technical services in an academic library in a city, and the position is for children’s services in a public library in a rural area, we want to know what made you interested and how you expect to make that sort of job transition.

I want to hire someone who is


How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

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

√ 3-4

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?

√ Yes

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

√ Yes

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

Yes – an official requirement

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ No

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

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

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Public, Rural area, State of the Job Market 2015, Western US

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