I am always impressed when someone asks about disaster preparedness

Stuart Strachan, Senior Archivist, National Archives, examines files from the Prime Minister’s Department (1980). Archives New Zealand on Flickr.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Other: Museum

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Assistant Archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ 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:

The HR manager posts the Assistant Archivist position, the Archivist does an initial pass on the applicants’ resume and cover letter. The Archivist and Curator pick the top 6 candidates for phone interviews with both. Following the phone interviews, the top 3 candidates are invited for an interview via Zoom or in-person. The Curator and Archivist evaluate the final candidates with the Archivist making the final decision on who to hire

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

They worked with multiple types of collections, i.e. paper, photos, and oral histories. They showed a willingness and excitement to learn more skills and apply them.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

A disorganized resume. If the resume is not uniform and organized, it shows a lack of attention to detail that is required in this job.

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

How willing they are to speak up to say something isn’t working or if their concentration is wavering during long-term monotonous tasks. Things can always be adjusted even if it’s picking up a small task to “jump start” their concentration, but if they don’t/won’t speak up, I can’t help them.

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?

They didn’t do research on the organization or the area that they might live in.

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

Yes. They should be comfortable but not lounging. I can tell if they’re comfortable because those interviewees tend to be more engaged.

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?

Highlight applicable skills. We do a lot of cataloguing and research, tell me what you’ve done similarly. Look into remote volunteering situations to bolster your resume if you are unable to volunteer or intern in an archive.

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?

We don’t have anything in place. I try not to look at names, graduating and/or working dates, or addresses of former workplaces until after the initial pass. In our organization, local hires are always prioritized because management requests early start dates. This could rule out most candidates for the archives as there is not a large pool of local applicants.

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

For us, copyright is key, as I work in a single artist museum. Asking questions about projects coming up is always good to show planning for the future. I am always impressed when someone asks about disaster preparedness, because it shows me they have looked into the area and are looking at the protection of the collection 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

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, Archives, Rural area, Special, Suburban area, Urban area, Western US

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