Have a glass of temperate beverage nearby for when you inevitably have a coughing fit.

American Library Association – Library Personnel – Miss Anne Mulhern, Librarian, Base Hospital, Camp Cody, N.M., National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Associate Professor & Other Really Identifiable Stuff

Titles hired include: Liaison Librarian, Resident Librarian, Department Head, Associate Dean (Different academic levels from Instructor to Professor)

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Job ad is usually developed by hiring dept. Admin forms a committee, I’ve served on committees and chaired them. We do phone interviews and then a full day interview for faculty lines that usually includes a teaching presentation.  Everyone who participates in the interview gives de-identified feedback

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

They were *prepared* for the interview. Had looked at us and demonstrated interest in what our library was doing (went beyond giant campus initiatives). Had thoughtful questions for the people they met with. Actually responded to the questions we asked and the presentation prompt. Had actually considered what research would look like (part of our responsibilities) . 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Entitlement / I’m just using this job to something better / you “owe” me this job ; PhDs condescending to work in the library as a backup “because it’s easy”;   Complete disinterest in doing research on a tenure-track line; Shows complete lack of curiosity about the people they would be working with; Openly sexist or racist statements ; 

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

Who is going to turn out to be incredibly lazy or a raging asshole. For anyone in management: who is going to gaslight me 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more 

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this  

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 haven’t prepared questions they can ask all day.  General questions (what do you enjoy, what would you like to change, goals for next six months, how do you celebrate successes?) show interest in *us* and something more than the job responsibilities. If you’ve reached the in person interview I want to know that you’re at least interested in working *with me*

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

Yes — though I anticipate we’ll go back to in-person for full day interviews in the future.  *please* put your camera at a flattering angle so we aren’t looking at your forehead or up your nose.  Have a glass of temperate beverage nearby for when you inevitably have a coughing fit.  

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?

Give clear and specific correlative examples using library language.  You want to join this field, learn some of the jargon and translate it for us.  We’re tired and busy and don’t want to guess if you’ve had experience.  It’s the same for any profession — show us that you want to be engaged in our work — not some mythical idea of what a library is or what academic librarians do. 

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 have training for the search committee. We have rubrics to evaluate the candidates.  We try to broadly recruit. I don’t have a problem with us requiring the MLS but I know it’s seen as exclusionary (too often when it’s not the MLS it’s A PhD and that’s not inclusive). Adding minimum salary in job ads has helped a lot too.  What ranks people get hired at and a weird preference for extremely underwhelming white guys still tends to be common 

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

How would you like to see the organization grow in the next five years? How might you and I collaborate? What’s something you’re proud of?  — they need to be aware that we are an under-resourced minority serving institution and we’re extremely proud of our students.  We want you to truly want to work with them and also to care about us as colleagues. If the only thing you can come up with “oh you’re in geographic location” or “Oh you’re a Size of College” (both of which I’ve heard for leadership roles)…. nah 

Additional Demographics

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions  

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

I didn’t give you all of the demographic information because there’s really only a few institutions that meet all of those and you’ve not been clear how you’ll de-identify responses.  

Job hunting is awful right now but also exciting. I’ve just talked two different people through negotiating for higher pay as they accepted new offers and it’s exciting.  

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, Academic

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