We love non-library candidates!

Photograph of Martin Burrell. By Flickr user Archives of the Law Society of Ontario

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Head of Circulation / Bookkeeper 

Titles hired include: Library Associates and Library Assistants (ft and pt clerks) 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ Other: We have a short interview and usually ask final candidate for references if they haven’t been offered. 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Applications through indeed have questions, but candidates can also email cover letter and resume directly and not do those. 

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

We usually post a few places online, indeed and job boards – I go through the candidates and get down to 15-30 possibilities to interview. My boss (library director) and I decide on which of those to interview together. We do interviews with the two of us and make final decision together. 

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

We put an emphasis on customer service – candidates who recognize this as a large portion of the job and give thoughtful, complete answers to these questions are the most impressive. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

People who state that they want to work at a library because they “love to read” or “want a quiet job.” 

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

I think self motivation is the biggest issue for us – it’s hard to tell how motivated candidates are unless they’re actually hired. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

Responding as though they didn’t read the job description. 

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

We have, as necessary with COVID and candidates living out of state. Part of the job is tech support for patrons, so candidates who can’t figure out their own tech is a red flag. 

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?

We love non-library candidates! We might be more open than most but most of our questions are geared toward similar experiences, not exact situations from the past. 

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 do have questions on the Indeed posts, which can limit some, even if they can be avoided. We try to look for a variety of people and experiences when interviewing, but there are certain conditions like “lifting weight” which while not strictly necessary for every person, are necessary to have some staff members able to do. 

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

I like when candidates ask about good and bad parts of our jobs, or the working environment. We do our best to be honest. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area

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