Ruth Castillo is the Director of the Library at Emory & Henry College in Virginia. Prior to coming to Virginia, she was a library department head at another private university.
In these roles, Ruth has chaired numerous librarian and library staff search committees and served on faculty and administrator search committees for positions outside of the library.
Briefly describe the hiring process at your organization and your role in it:
I chair search committees for library positions at the college. For all types of positions, candidates must apply online with a resume/cv, cover letter, and references. For staff positions, the committee typically does in-person interviews with the top 2-3 candidates before making a decision. For librarian (faculty) positions, the committee does a video call first-round interview with the best 5-10 candidates then recommends 1-3 candidates for an on-campus interview day. The interview day involves 5-8 different interviews, meetings, and often a teaching demonstration and includes meetings with the Provost, the library staff, and the Faculty Hiring Committee. After the on-campus interviews, the search committee and the Faculty Hiring Committee make independent recommendations to the Provost who will make a final decision regarding offering the position.
Titles hired include: Technical Services Librarian, Technical Services Specialist, Technical Services Assistant, Health Sciences Librarian, Public Services Librarian, Circulation Assistant
Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:
√ A Committee or panel
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
√ A whole day of interviews
√ A meal with hiring personnel
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?
The most impressive candidates I have seen are all able to articulate why they want to join us and what they would bring to the library.
Do you have any instant dealbreakers?
Coming to an interview and asking no substantive questions.
What do you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?
What the candidate needs to know to determine if this would be the job for them (salary, schedules, work/life balance, health care, moving to the community, 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, but keep it reasonable and relevant
What is the most common mistake that people make in an interview?
Not doing their homework. If you don’t know where we’re located, what type of institution we are, and how big the library staff is before I talk to you, I assume you don’t have an interest in working here.
Do you conduct virtual interviews? What do job hunters need to know about shining in this setting?
We do! The beginning of a virtual interview can be awkward, for everyone. A great way to overcome that is handling the basics, like making sure people can hear and see you okay.
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?
Directly reference the job posting in the context of your experience. I intentionally look for these connections, but if I have an anatomy professor on the hiring committee, they may not be able to connect the dots between managing retail operations and providing front-line library services. Utilize cover letters and interviews as opportunities to make these types of connections.
When does your organization *first* mention salary information?
√ Other: My institution does not allow us to post salary information. For staff hires, I provide salary and work schedules at the interview. For librarian (faculty) positions, it can be awkward to have that conversation during the interview with the committee present. I typically do a follow-up to the first interview with candidates we’re interested in bringing to campus that opens the door to discuss salary 1-1 before moving forward as a candidate.
What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?
All search committees are required to do training at the beginning of the search. We also use the same questions for all candidate interviews within a search.
What questions should candidates ask you? What is important for them to know about your organization and the position you are hiring for?
What is the first challenge you would ask me to tackle in this position? How does this position fit into the strategic goals/plans of the library? When you started here, what surprised you the most about working here? What does communication within the library look like?
What part of the world are you in?
√ Southeastern US
What’s your region like?
Is your workplace remote/virtual?
√ Never or not anymore
How many staff members are at your organization?