If your cover letter sucks, I’m not putting more energy into your application.

Montford Point Marines Training. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Cataloging and metadata librarian

Titles hired include: Acquisitions associate, Collections Maintenance Supervisor

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR 

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References 

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round 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:

I have served on three search/hiring committees since coming to my university. Committees are members of the department in which the hire will work, plus a library HR rep, and usually one (but sometimes more) person outside of the department that the hire will be a part of. The committee does the bulk of the work. Supervisors get a chance to meet candidates, typically in a second interview, but cannot give input on the process. The committee makes their recommendations to the provost, and ultimately the provost decides from the candidates put forth by the hiring committee. 

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

They tailored their cover letter to the position. Cover letter, CV, written follow up question responses were all clear and highly organized. They used these opportunities to showcase their written communication skills. They were professional and open in interviews. They tailored their responses to the position, even if their background didn’t align with the duties of the role they’re applying for. They showed enthusiasm about taking on a new role. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lack of clear written communication. If your cover letter sucks, I’m not putting more energy into your application. If your written question responses haven’t been edited. Not following basic instructions in the preliminary parts of the application process, even before the interview.  

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

Resume: √ Only One!  

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

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

I’ve found people who are too casual are usually not taken seriously. I think this is a more common mistake in the era of zoom interviews (during the pandemic).

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

Yes. Treat it the same as you would an in-person interview. It’s not an excuse to be casual. 

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?

This has happened a lot and I like hiring candidates with different backgrounds! Make sure you find a way to connect your past experience to the job you’re applying for, even if they aren’t similar. There must be some similar aspects or strengths you can carry from your previous work. 

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?

Hiring at my organization is completely blind until the interview stage. We also take a diversity, equity and inclusion course, as well as a course on examining our personal biases before we can join a hiring committee. 

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 the organization as a whole, and also when they ask about how we see the position evolving over time. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ 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 

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

Apply to things even if you don’t meet all the requirements! As long as you can draw meaningful connections between your past experiences and the job you’re applying for! 

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, Northeastern US, Suburban area, Urban area

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