Objectives. Please…no more.

Librarian working at the Pointe Coupee Parish Parish library in New Roads Louisiana in 1936This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. This person works at a a public library with 200+ staff members.

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

Customer service skills (soft skills are a lot harder to teach!), an eagerness to learn, and fit.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

I had an interviewee come in wearing jeans. While that’s okay on a day-to-day basis, it was an instant turnoff for me in the interview. Otherwise, she would have been one of the top candidates!

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

Objectives. Please…no more.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

I did like that one candidate explained her employment gap in her cover letter. Honestly, I didn’t notice until she pointed it out, but I appreciated the effort.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ As many as it takes, but shorter is better

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?


Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?


If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√As an attachment only

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Complete answers with relevant examples. Elaborate, please! It’s okay to use an example from a non-library experience. We’re trying to get to know you to see if you would be a good fit.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

An interview is a sales pitch for yourself. Why should we hire YOU? Every single person I interviewed for our last position would have been hireable. Convince me that you’re the best fit. Notice how I keep mentioning “fit”.

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

HR is much more involved. They make all the phone calls and do all the legwork. We just review the applications and participate in the interviews. That being said, make sure you get past HR so I can see your application! Make sure your application reflects the required experience.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Writing skills matter. And please make sure you change your cover letter from job to job. I know you’re applying to other organizations, but it’s a major turn off to see that you didn’t care to change that information in your cover letter. One more thing – we can tell when you’re throwing your resume at everything just to see what sticks. If you apply to a job posting that closely matches what you have to offer, you’ll have a much greater chance of snagging an interview.

For some context, take a look at the most recently published summary of responses to this survey.

If you’re someone who has participated in hiring library workers, take this survey and share your viewpoint.

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Original Survey, Public

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