Ask questions tailored to the person interviewing you.

Headshot of Karen K. Reczek. She grasps her chin and smiles against a light blue background

Karen K. Reczek is a Social Scientist within the Standards Coordination Office (SCO) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Karen works with high level Federal, State, Local & private sector officials to coordinate standards development and standards research to identify and support development of standard activities and programs to meet Federal needs. Previously Karen worked at Bureau Veritas CPS as Senior Manager, Information Resources Center for 14 years and prior to that at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Scientific and Information Resources and Services.  For over 30 years, Karen has served in various leadership positions in SLA, including elected and appointed positions at the SLA International, Community level. She is the winner of 2018 SLA John Cotton Dana Award.  She is currently President, SES: Society for Standards Professionals. 

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

Write description and skills requirements; work with HR to post the job; HR screens candidates that make a qualifying list; supervisor selects people to interview; panel interviews and makes selection in ranked order. HR extends offer. 

Titles hired include: Information Specialist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume 

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Short answers that answered the questions. Articulate, organized in their approach, good examples, personable, and asked good questions. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Won’t look me in the eye, even on camera! No questions for me. Unorganized responses or responses that make it clear the person did not understand the questions nor did they ask to clarify. 

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

Their real ability to let go of set ways and learn new things and continue to adapt to the role should it change. I try to ask behavioral interview questions to get some of this revealed. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

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

CV: √ As many as it takes, I love reading.

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

Not researching the organization, or the department/divisions; not coming prepared to ask questions; not being prepared at all.

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

Yes, recently. See above. Turn your camera on. Make “eye” contact”; smile. Be brief. Ask clarifying questions.

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?

No need to convince me. I know it’s possible. Just offered an administrative person and info specialist role because they seemed very capable of owning the role and doing quality work once trained. 

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?

HR’s new system is supposed to start to try and address that. Yet, it still exists. 

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

About opportunities for growth – like do you support belonging to professional orgs, attending conferences, opportunities for advancement. How the department works; what the supervisor’s style is and expectations; what the role is and responsibilities and what training will be offered to learn the job, etc. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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?

√ 201+ 

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

Do your homework. Be prepared. Ask questions tailored to the person interviewing you. Ask HR about culture and training. Ask the hiring manager about day to day responsibilities, management style, work environment, etc. The job hunter is interviewing the organization just as much as the organization is interviewing the job hunter. Don’t forget that. Try to learn about the culture. Sometimes that’s make or break once you get there and realize it is not a good fit. 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try 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.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Urban area

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