Know yourself and your service philosophy.

Fifteenth Annual Institute on Preservation and Administration of Archives. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Children’s Services Librarian 

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Librarian, Assistant Director, Director

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ Other: Depends on position.  Professional positions require resume and cover letter, non professional online application, demonstration if skill will be regular or main focus of position.

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Online application, review of applications, interviews, hire or repost.  I have helped whittle down applications for coworkers, sat on interview committees, and been in charge of the entire process from posting position to hiring decision.

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

They knew what organization they were interviewing for, it was obvious they had done their homework, and were prepared.  Showed passion and how their service philosophy aligned with organizational philosophy.  Not afraid to show personality, they were genuine.  Could relate past experience to position interviewing for.  Were curious and asked good questions.  

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Show need to follow rules to the letter, no flexibility, no empathy.  We used to have a question about a five cent fine (before we went fine free).  If the person must collect the fine at all costs because it was a rule and were not able to waive the fine even with permission/prodding, deal breaker.

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: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Not being prepared.  I don’t mean having an idea of what questions will be asked and having perfect answers.  I mean knowing even a little bit about the organization and the position.  Not being themselves and saying what they think the interviewer/s want to hear.

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

We have in the past and will do so if needed.  Not sure how to answer this question.  Being willing to do a video interview over a phone interview is helpful.  

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?

Lots of different types/range of previous experience can be relevant or helpful in a library setting, especially customer service.  Show willingness to learn.  Be able to see and articulate the connections.  Know yourself and your service philosophy.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Salary Range in job ad, specific salary with job offer

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

Not advertising open positions outside of traditional avenues to reach a wider candidate pool.  

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

Ask about organizational culture.  This can be helpful in learning if the organization is a place they want to work.  Ask why people on the interview panel like to work for the organization or why not.  What is a typical day like for the person in the position. Whatever is important to them and will help them make a decision about whether the organization is a good fit for them.  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: Not a suburb but not rural.  

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

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.


Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Public, Southwestern US

2 responses to “Know yourself and your service philosophy.

  1. Victoria

    Hmm, I’m not sure I understand the dealbreaker about the fines. As a job candidate, I don’t think I would be willing to say at an interview that I would break a policy, even if I thought personally there was room for flexibility. It feels like a trick. Maybe a better question would be something about their philosophy on getting rid of fines and the advantages or disadvantages to doing that (though maybe that is irrelevant now that their library system doesn’t have fines.) This is why interviewing is so stressful- every answer has so many interpretations!


    • It does feel like a little bit of a trick! Or something that would be easier to answer if you knew there was some flexibility in the system. They do mention permission/prodding, so maybe the interviewer was suggesting that they’d state that flexibility existed… I used to work at a place that had a policy of “people over things” so that kind of flexibility was written into the policy. It made it easier for folks to be on the same page.


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