Candidates have more leverage now than previously

Photograph of Pack Horse Librarian Packing Saddle Bag
Image: Photograph of Pack Horse Librarian Packing Saddle Bag National Archives Catalog

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Director

Titles hired: various flavors of Archivist and Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ Other: upon the recommendation of search committee

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:

For academic searches, a committee that includes peers is appointed. They oversee the search process and select finalists. Final recommendations go to the unit administrator and dean.

Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?

Extensive hands-on experience and practiced at interviewing. Early-career.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Rudeness. Failure to research the institution or express interest in the city.

What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

N/A academic library interviews are about as in-depth as it gets. It’s up to the hiring manager and committee to ask the right questions.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant

CV: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant

What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?

Not taking the opportunity to ask questions of us. This isn’t a dealbreaker or really factors in to how I evaluate candidates, but it is a big opportunity for a candidate to learn about the organization and unearth red flags.

Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?

Yes. Practice basic Zoom if it isn’t a big part of your life. Switching to screenshare, looking at settings, etc. Practice interview questions with a friend or colleague so that you feel comfortable.

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

Explain why it is relevant, and describe the connections. Don’t make the interviewers do all the work. Some will have made the jump and can readily see the connections, but others won’t and you need to spell it out for them. If you have primarily worked in a para setting, don’t just describe the tasks you did, describe the broader initiative and function (context for your role) to demonstrate that you are thinking on a macro level.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

Anti-bias training for search committee members, preliminary discussions about interpreting criteria and how to apply it more inclusively

What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?

Mission, short/long term priorities, how retention is prioritized, EDI/DEI

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? Or are there any questions you think we should add?

LIS/archives searches are still very competitive, but candidates have more leverage now than previously. Use that leverage to ask questions and to negotiate a better offer.

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not trying commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

1 Comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Academic, Archives, Midwestern US, Urban area

One response to “Candidates have more leverage now than previously

  1. Laura Faatz

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve had a lot of interviews for academic library positions. This post has lessened my uncertainty and boosted my confidence in how I can navigate a job search more successfully.


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