One of my interview questions deals with intellectual freedom, and if it is not answered with a response in keeping with public library values/ethics, that is a deal breaker.

Christine Karatnytsky, librarian in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Librarian, Circulation Clerk, Custodian, Maintenance Coordinator

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

I post the job openings, I receive the applications, and depending on the position, I either arrange interviews or leave it up to the supervisor in that department (if there is one.) Then we interview, and we have another employee give the interviewee a tour of the library so they can feel more relaxed and maybe ask other questions that didn’t come up in the “formal” interview, and then when a hiring decision is made we notify all candidates that were interviewed. 

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

They met all the “requirements” and also were excited to work the kind of odd schedule we needed. It was a perfect fit. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Yes. One of my interview questions deals with intellectual freedom, and if it is not answered with a response in keeping with public library values/ethics, that is a deal breaker.

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

How they respond to constructive criticism/feedback.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

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?

Saying they can work any shift when really they cannot.

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

No, but I would if it was necessary. 

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?

Experience is huge! I don’t know that it would take a lot of convincing, honestly. That would be a huge bonus.

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 try to have the interviewee talk with several of us (individually, we don’t want to bombard) so that we can all get a feel for how this person would fit in, though it’s hard in such a short amount of time. We try to pick employees who have very different personalities so as to try to remain unbiased.

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

It would be helpful if they knew our community or asked questions about the community if they live in a different area.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

 √ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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

Apply! Even if you don’t think you’re qualified or have enough experience, you might still be a great fit. Please please don’t tell the interviewer that you love reading, so you want to work in a library. Just kidding…kind of. 

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, Midwestern US, Public, Rural area

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