We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible

Archivist Sara Jackson. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library 

Title: library trustee and retired special librarian

Titles hired include: YA, PT and FT Children’s, Tech Services, Adult Services, Admin

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

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

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ 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:

Job description (usually Union affiliated) must be approved by City as well as Union, job is advertised locally and on regional boards, resumes are reviewed by Lib Director and Head of HR to decide on interviews; interviews take place with Director, and relevant team members, sometimes reviewed by Trustees depending on level

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

Articulate, asked good questions, expressed genuine interest in position and also in growth in the organization, good skill set beyond just MLS skills

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Either on Zoom or in person, shows up in unprofessional dress, difficult expressing themselves when asked questions (not including nervousness), stumped to describe strengths and weaknesses or an important accomplishment or learning experience at previous job

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

Are they actually a good teammate; are they a responsible/reliable individual

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

Showing up without having done basic homework about the organization

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

Yes, same reasons as in question 8 (Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?) and question 9 (What are your instant dealbreakers?). We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible.  

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?

There are lots of relevant skills learned in non-library related jobs so it is important for a candidate to describe these and do their best to relate them to the job on offer.  Often parapro or pre-pro experience is like an entry level professional so I don’t look down on people who don’t have the degree.  An expressed desire to get a credential is important though it depends on the job.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview 

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

As a govt. organization and personally we are committed to a diverse workforce that mirrors the demographics of our city and we value the differing points of view that employees can bring to the table.  Given the lack of diversity in many MLS programs and libraries of all types, there is still a lot of discrimination in hiring, conscious or otherwise.

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

Questions about expectations not explicit in job description; also probing about how team dynamics work, any political or other issues that are involved that could impact the library, opportunities for growth if contribution is proven so how regular are performance reviews and who does them. Perhaps even typical frustrations experienced on the job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Archives, Northeastern US, Public, Urban area

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