Please be aware that job duties vary so much that it is not enough to say/write the titles of the positions held – convey the range, extent

Mrs. Joan Fertig, Hungarian-born librarian at the Westinghouse plant. LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

√ Other: Government Library – State Library

Title: Assistant Director

Titles hired include: Librarian, Senior Librarian, Research Program Specialist, Student Assistant, Intern

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ 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

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Written Exam

√ 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:

If I have a current position vacancy in my unit, I craft a current job description with details on duties and responsibilities submit it to the director and then HR to review/approve before the recruitment plan is crafted with HR assistance – how long to keep it open, screening criteria grid  to apply for applicants, interview questions (with suggested responses, scoring grid), where to post position availability.

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

They were able to communicate their ideas and response to the questions in a way that highlighted their strengths, skills, experience – and even when they didn’t have specific experience or familiarity with the question or topic, were able to translate/bridge similar qualities and experiences

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Too shallow or glib responses that do not address the questions asked

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

How well they interact with colleagues, how they act under pressure and with multiple and often conflicting deadlines

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

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?

Fail to fully answer/address the question asked with sufficient details and information

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

Yes, all have been handled virtually since COVID first prevented us from working onsite, mid-March 2020. The first few were conducted in Teams and Zoom, with audio only enabled (cameras for applicant and panelist turned off). In this instance, vocal variety, enunciation, level, tone are big factors. Pre-COVID, we had done a couple of interviews virtually with cameras on – lighting, presentation, background noises will be playing a factor along with the others noted for interviews with the camera off. In both cases, it is important for candidates to present their best selves with thoughtful responses.

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?

Be able to communicate how and why their experience relates to the job duties and responsibilities of the position they are interviewing for. To connect the dots and map it out explicitly so that the interviewer(s) are able to understand  – if they have similar experiences or skills-set in other jobs even if the job titles or industries or settings are different – doing so helps put things into context and makes the roadmap much clearer.

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?

Audio only virtual interviews, review of interview questions to ensure all are objective and job-related, interview panel includes HR rep. The state civil service system can be mystifying and a bit of a challenge to navigate and time consuming process – it is not a discriminatory practice or process on its merits, yet those responsible for hiring are interviewing candidates, and how they judge/score their responses might be subject to prejudice, and they are faced with choosing among comparable candidates after the interviews and making decisions about which one would ‘fit’ in with the staff, and this is another area where bias and discrimination could take place (whether implicit or explicit).

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

Seems like it would vary by the candidate – whatever is important to them should be raised/asked. This is a two-way interview, and those on the hiring panel are/may be colleagues. At the very least, ask a question (or two) that shows the candidates have done a little homework – checked out the company and or unit website or conducted a search to see what is being talked about or shared (program news, updates) and plans for the future.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: My entire unit is working virtual; and it varies throughout based on work responsibilities

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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

Please be aware that job duties vary so much that it is not enough to say/write the titles of the positions held – convey the range, extent. Also, do not dismiss/overlook experiences and skills obtained through volunteer work, either with a professional association (library or information pro) or personal association

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, 100-200 staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Special, Urban area, Western US

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