We can’t ask follow-ups, so give ALL the info that might be relevant.

Post Graduate Hospital : convalescents and librarian on sun porch, 1923. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Supervising Librarian

Titles hired include: Librarian 2, Librarian 1, Library Aide, Library Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ 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:

Applications are initially screened by city HR to determine eligibility for the job classification. Eligible candidates are asked to take either an oral exam, a written exam, or are scored based on supplemental questionnaires. This leads to a ranked list based on score. When the library has vacancies to fill, they are given a list of names from the list for that classification – number of names given determined by number of vacancies to fill.  Those candidates are invited to a departmental interview (aka an interview with the library) which is a panel interview.  Panel presents recommendations to Administration and discusses each candidate. Sometimes candidates may be invited for a second interview that is more casual. 

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

They confidently and thoroughly answered each question. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

inappropriate comments (racist, sexist, transphobic etc). 

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: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Not thoroughly answering the question. We can’t ask follow-ups, so give ALL the info that might be relevant.

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

Yes. We know it’s awkward, but we’ve gotten very used to it!

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?

Share how your experience in other areas (other jobs, volunteering, even school) is relevant.  If you haven’t done something, share what you WOULD do, or how you’ve handled similar things.

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 frame our questions to ensure candidates are given a chance to share their experience in a way that doesn’t favor any particular candidates. Include questions that get beyond “diversity” and into real inclusion and equity and anti-racism. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Very rarely for really specific positions.

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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, 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US

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