It might take a librarian with years of experience who comes to my area years to find a position, or they may get stuck in a paraprofessional position

Charles Elliott, Chief Librarian of the Law Society of Upper Canada, 1914-1922. By Flickr user Archives of the Law Society of Ontario

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Supervisor

Titles hired include: Librarian, reference assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ 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:

I see it through from start to finish for all positions I hire for, including creating job postings, screening applications, and interviewing. I also participate on panels for other positions. Hiring decisions are ultimately mine although HR does a final review that might trump that (to veto our candidate if there is a relevant veterans preference for another candidate, if someone doesn’t pass the background check, etc.)

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

They seem excited about the position and display some understanding of what the position work entails. They’re able to clearly show a link between past experience and the position they are interviewing for. The experience doesn’t have to be the same type but they should be able to draw connections.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Candidates who don’t understand what library work actually is (ex. they say they want to help people find books and don’t demonstrate any other knowledge of library services) 

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 knowing anything about our library or community.

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

Yes. Make sure you check your audio and video before (you’d be surprised how many people have issues). If you join early and are waiting to be admitted, make sure you are ready to go. Don’t walk away, get distracted, etc. 

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 all have required anti bias training. We also look at requirements and questions with an equity lens and include BIPOC staff in every interview.

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

Ask us several questions, it almost doesn’t matter what they are! Lots of candidates have no questions—it makes you seem like you aren’t curious, and don’t care about whether the job is a good fit. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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

Could add a question about how the hiring market is in your area. Some candidates are shocked how hard it is where I am. It might take a librarian with years of experience who comes to my area years to find a position, or they may get stuck in a paraprofessional position. Being able to move for a job helps if you are set on a specific type of position.

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, 100-200 staff members, Public, Suburban area, Western US

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