Don’t expect the search committee members to carry the conversation.


This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Head of Research

Titles hired include: Research librarian; oral historian; circulation assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: The Dean makes the final decision but the search committee provides a report and everyone in the library provides feedback.

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

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

For faculty: served on search committee (SC), often chairing it.  SC evaluates all candidates’ materials using a rubric developed from the job ad. Top scores are invited for Zoom interviews. Three are invited for on-campus interviews. All day interview includes dinner the night before, presentation to the entire library, meetings with the supervisor, home department, and a community member related to the candidate’s interest (this is for the candidate’s benefit and not shared with the hiring committee). References checked. Dean consults with SC, reviews feedback from others in the library, and makes an offer.

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

Made it very clear why they wanted *this job* at *this university*.  

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Rudeness to the administrative assistant who coordinates the search.  Generic cover letters which do not address the job ad, or spend a lot of time talking about items not related to the job description/ad. (Example: “I’m applying for the reference librarian position. Here’s why I love archives with much details)

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

Can’t think of anything

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: √ As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant  

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

For in-person: be ready to make lots of small talk. Don’t expect the search committee members to carry the conversation.

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

Yes.  Test your setting to make sure the lighting is adequate, that your background is not distracting, that your Internet connection is strong and reliable, and that you  audio is clear.

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?

Write a compelling cover letter that explains how the experience transfers to the needed job skills.  One of the best letters I read was from someone who explained how bartending prepared them to work a public service desk.

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?

Everyone has to complete online training; we follow ‘best practices’ in the literature including having a sensitivity audit of job ad wording, using a rubric and common questions, giving questions in advance to candidates. Our uni is currently employing a search advocate firm which is intended to help us improve further.

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

Interviewing goes both ways, so candidates should think about what their priorities are in a workplace. Flexible schedule? Ability to choose your own projects? Support for professional development?  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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, 50-100 staff members, Academic, Southeastern US, Suburban area

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