LGBTQ+ status. There aren’t enough of us in the field and we need more diversity.

Image: Librarian Working in the Stacks, 1950s,
Duke University Archives
on Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Director

Titles hired: Circulation clerk, maintenance and programming librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Department managers hire with my oversight. I hire positions outside of departments (maintenance, It, etc.) and managers. I run background checks as well.

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

Breadth of experience, passion for their work and strong interpersonal skills.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Unwillingness to change, grow and learn. Bigotry.

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

LGBTQ+ status. There aren’t enough of us in the field and we need more diversity.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

Resume: √ 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?

Treating the interview as a test rather than a conversation.

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

I have not personally. When I was the one interviewing, I was struck by the fact that not only do you have to present yourself as professional, but your surroundings as well. Furnishing my room with photos and bookshelves to show up on camera was an odd experience.

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?

I am of the belief that most, if not all work can be considered relevant at the library. The advice I would give is that getting hired outside of your field (public to academic libraries, especially) is honestly about making the right connections. Rub shoulders and make friends as best you can.

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?

Personally, I always try to take the whole of applicant experiences, be they career, culture, identity or anything else. I encourage staff to see the full story of the people they hire. Discrimination can still unfortunately bleed in as we don’t know people’s full experiences if they don’t open up about them, so certain negative points are attributed to their personality and manner when they might be struggling with mental health issues, neurodivergency and other factors that aren’t transparent. The best we can do is keep an open mind and try to see the best in people.

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

Ask about the community. Ask about the big projects and dreams of the library you’re applying to. Ask how you can bring your passions to bear in the service to your work. Stand out and make yourself known for exactly who you are. I want applicants to know that they are cherished for their unique skills and gifts and that we strive to be a team and empower workers to help shape the direction of their workplace.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Midwestern US, Public, Urban area

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