Remember, you’re interviewing potential co-workers as well!

The ALA War Finance and War Service Committee at Chillicothe, Ohio. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Director of Library Services

Titles hired include: Teaching & Learning Librarian, Health Sciences Librarian, Library Operations Supervisor, Electronic Resources/Systems Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Applicants apply online and attach their materials. The application system notifies me (supervisor/library director) of new applications. I review applications with a search committee based on a template related to the job posting. We then forward 5-6 applications to HR for an initial phone interview. HR conducts the phone interview: they ask general questions plus a few library-specific questions supplied by the search committee. We then take HR’s notes on the phone interviews and narrow the field to 2-4 applicants for a 2nd round final interview. This final round is usually in-person and we pay for travel expenses (although due to COVID, we’ve done Microsoft Teams virtual interviews for the past 2 years). After the final round interviews, I ask the search committee to rank the applicants in order to see what the group’s consensus is. I forward our choices in order to HR who makes the offer to the job candidate.

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

They took the time to look at our library website and the services and resources we offer. They worked this into responses to our interview questions. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?


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


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: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

not being inquisitive; not asking us questions (remember, you’re interviewing potential co-workers as well!)

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

Yes. Just make sure technology works and try to cut down on distractions when interviewing virtually. 

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?

Focus on promoting the skills you have that are directly transferrable. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Our institution does not post salary information in job ads (which I cannot get them to budge on). So I provide it as soon as I reach out to schedule interviews.

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

The library does a blind review process of applications. Names, addresses, institutions, graduation dates, etc… are blacked out on applications.

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

short-term vs. long-term goals for the position, how are you evaluated in the position, what untapped areas/collaboration do you see with the position

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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, 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Suburban area

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