This interview is with Celia Rabinowitz, who has been Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College (NH) since 2014. She also manages general education, digital learning, faculty enrichment, and undergraduate research. Celia has a MLS from Rutgers University and a PhD (in Theology) from Fordham University. Prior to Keene State, Celia worked in the Hilda Landers Library at St. Mary’s College in Maryland from 1992-2014.
You may remember Celia from her contributions to the Further Questions weekly feature. I am very grateful for her willingness to share her insight and expertise.
Please briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:
Permission to fill the position is approved by senior administrator. For library faculty a search committee is formed (the dean is not a member). The committee meets with HR to review guidelines and write a job ad (with dean approval). The search committee reviews applications using an online system to submit ratings linked to job requirements. Phone interviews for a first round. On campus interviews for finalists including meetings with the dean and provost. References are checked. Search committee makes a recommendation to the dean. The dean consults with the provost before an offer is made.
Titles hired include: Collections Strategies & Services, ILL coordinator, Access Services Manager
Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:
√ Library Administration
√ The position’s supervisor
√ Other: Provost or other principal administrator
Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?
√ Online application
√ Cover letter
√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)
√ More than one round of interviews
√ Other: Not all items are required at the time of application
Does your organization use automated application screening?
Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?
In addition to having good qualifications, the person used the cover letter to talk about why they were interested in this job at our library and institution.
Do you have any instant dealbreakers?
Candidates who don’t acknowledge the type of institution we are (public, liberal arts), whose cover letters appear very generic, have an uphill climb to convince me we should consider them.
What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?
I wish there was a way for candidates to feel secure asking about concerns they have regarding a position – about their qualifications, about campus climate, etc.
How many pages should each of these documents be?
Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more
Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more
CV: √ As many as it takes, I love reading
What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?
Being afraid to ask provocative or probing questions.
Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?
Our last hire was before the pandemic and we did everything in person. I’m not sure if we’ll return to that. We are unlikely to be able to do any hiring for the next several years.
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?
Candidates who can tie any previous work experience to aspects of the job available should be given serious consideration, particularly for entry-level positions. My advice is to own the change you want to make, don’t apologize for it.
When does your organization *first* mention salary information?
√ Other: It’s usually part of the online job description. Faculty are members of a bargaining unit so starting salaries are set in the CBA, but can also be negotiated.
What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?
The search committee is required to talk with the Associate VP for Equity and Inclusions who will also review pools of candidates. Efforts are made to advertise in places that will reach wide audiences. The biggest challenge is our geographical location.
What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?
Candidates for library faculty positions could ask about expectations for tenure and promotion, about mentoring opportunities, about professional development support. They should know about the impact of staff and budget reductions over the past few years on the campus in general and the library particularly.
What part of the world are you in?
√ Northeastern US
What’s your region like?
Is your workplace remote/virtual?
√ Never or not anymore
How many staff members are at your organization?
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