Metadata models can be intimidating, and this candidate made it seem much more accessible.

WACS with the Army Service Force – Librarian. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Other: Software vendor

Title: Senior DAM Architect

Titles hired include: Taxonomist, DAM librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise)

√ Other: CEO

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

√ Resume 

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

√ 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:

I currently hire information professionals as consultants – we’re hoping to start hiring FT roles once this program expands. I start by posting on LinkedIn, both my feed and on relevant professional group pages and will be posting to SLA in the future. I had candidates reach out to me on LinkedIn to start. It allowed me to vet them beyond their resume, and have a brief conversation before moving toward a full initial video interview (or phone, depending on their preference). Once someone passes that, I bring in our customer success managers who handle the areas where these folks would be working. Anyone who wows them moves back to me for follow up, then they provide references. Our head of hiring calls the references and has a lengthy conversation about the candidate and not only their strengths and weaknesses but how they prefer to communicate and the way to get the best out of them. She sends a detailed report to the CEO and me, and we discuss further. If we decide to move forward, I let the candidate know and then the CEO and CFO discuss the contract with them. We’re a small company, so working directly with the CEO isn’t outside the norm. However, a full-time employee may have a slightly different experience, as they won’t be dealing with the CEO for the contract – that will go through the CFO and hiring manager.

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

One of our recent candidates wowed everyone throughout the hiring process. She was knowledgeable but also approachable. She communicated clearly and resisted using industry jargon, except occasionally with me. It was clear that she had a lot of experience and could set clients at ease, which is important as our clients are usually speaking with a taxonomist or librarian because they are starting on their DAM journey or are having issues with an existing DAM. Metadata models can be intimidating, and this candidate made it seem much more accessible.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Inability to communicate clearly and exaggerating experience.

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

Any constraints with working remotely – we have an office but have mostly been hiring full-remote candidates. It would be great to know if they have the appropriate bandwidth or need that to be supplemented, or if they are set up to work comfortably from home, or if they prefer to work in a public place or rent a workspace.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Answering too quickly, which I commonly see leading to not answering the question thoroughly.

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

Yes, as of right now we only hire via virtual interviews due to the pandemic. Show that you can handle the technology – you’re going to need it anyway, so it’s disheartening to see someone who doesn’t know how to work their camera or lights themselves poorly (which I personally find distracting). 

Don’t worry about issues with internet connection or working with a particular video conferencing app for the first time. We have all been there, and it’s good to see how someone handles that. Pivot quickly and over-communicate if there’s an issue. We had a candidate who had construction that knocked out her wi-fi the morning of the call. She let us know immediately and offered a phone interview, which went very well.

Turn any mishaps into an opportunity to show how you can handle these (currently common) issues professionally and efficiently.

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 consider all of the facets of the role I’m hiring for. For better or worse, we typically end up managing our own projects. So project management experience is a plus. As we work with clients, I value experience in customer service. We also work with software engineers on occasion, so any work in that area, even a course on coding, is beneficial.

My advice to candidates is to find the pieces of your experience that you can tie into commonly used skills, even in a setting that you haven’t worked in before. Connect the dots for any hiring managers so they can see how your experience translates.

I would also say that candidates should come with some understanding of why their type of experience could bring new opportunities. One of my best supervisors had been a high school teacher, and that’s where she learned how to work with clients who had different ways of processing information and wrangling a meeting with lots of strong voices. Her skills from that background made her a more attractive candidate for the role she was in, but she had to make sure the hiring manager understood that.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Only when we make an offer, but I am hoping to change this.

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

To reduce bias in the interview process, we ensure there are a range of perspectives included and the panel is diverse. 

We currently don’t post in enough places and leverage my own network significantly, since we’re just starting to build out our team. While I try to ensure my network is diverse, posting in places where I’m more likely to reach diverse candidates is hampered because I cannot include the salary with the posting. Once that is fixed, I hope to reach more candidates.

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

They should ask me what tools we use to collaborate and communicate, why I chose to work at the company, and what challenges we’re trying to alleviate with this role.

It is important for candidates to know about our most recent (public) wins and that we service a wide range of clients. I would love for candidates to come into an interview with some basic knowledge of our product, whether that be from asking contacts who work with the tool or visiting our Youtube channel and/or our site. I’d hope any candidates who haven’t worked in digital asset management have read up on why librarians are important to the field and what skill sets they need to use.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western 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?

√ 51-100 

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

I would add more options for the type of organizations – none of my previous roles have been in those types of environments. I would include something software-related, as there are so many of us working for companies like Spotify or Netflix or software vendors, like me. I only worked for a library in grad school.

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.


Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Urban area, Western US

2 responses to “Metadata models can be intimidating, and this candidate made it seem much more accessible.

  1. Anonymous

    I appreciate hearing about librarians working outside of libraries and would love to see more of these!


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