I place a lot of weight on retail experience that teaches you how to think on your feet and manage difficult situations.

Amy is the Head of Adult Services for a public library serving diverse suburban and rural communities. Ordering books and managing the reference staff are probably the most visible parts of her job, but she especially enjoys mentoring future librarians and helping her library’s users navigate the complicated world of technology. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and finds that training transfers well to her work in public libraries. She lives in the Metro Detroit area with her husband, toddler son, tween stepchildren, and two very hungry cats. (Seriously. They’re starving.) 

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

We create a job posting, and distribute it through various channels: our consortium’s website, job seeking sites, Facebook, etc. If I’m the hiring manager, job applicants direct their application materials to me via email: application, resume, and cover letter. Sometimes I’m the only eyes on their materials before the interview, but if other senior staff members have time, or it’s an especially important position, I’ll ask for other opinions. I invite the candidates I feel are qualified to an interview with myself and another senior member of staff: typically a director or department head, but occasionally a senior librarian. 

Titles hired include: Librarian, Reference Assistant, Circulation Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

The last candidate to really wow me had just an incredible job history – she’d switched from archaeology to library science. She had incredible stories that highlighted relevant skills she would bring to the position. In general, that’s what I appreciate most in a good candidate: not necessarily that their stories are interesting or exciting, but that they show the candidate’s best abilities and demonstrate their mastery of the exact skills I’m asking about.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

I can’t say there’s any one thing that will always be a dealbreaker, but what comes the closest is zero work history. It’s difficult to evaluate candidates whose entire experience is either academic (as a student) or volunteer.

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

For my part-time candidates, how their availability will change after they’re hired! (Because it will! It always does!)

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 giving themselves the time and space to think and answer a question fully. If I ask for an example and something doesn’t immediately spring to mind, tell me that, and ask for a minute to think. If you can come up with the example I’m looking for, I’d rather hear that after a moment’s awkward silence than have a quick, general answer that dances around the question!

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

Not typically, no.

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?

When we’re hiring assistants for the public service desks – reference and circulation – it’s all about customer service! There are a wide variety of experiences that fit into that category, and I place a lot of weight on retail experience that teaches you how to think on your feet and manage difficult situations. 

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?

Unfortunately, we don’t do anything formal to reduce bias. 

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

Everyone should ask what a typical day on the job looks like. If you’re considering a position to “get your foot in the door” or gain experience for another position, you should ask 1. what the potential for promotion is and then 2. what opportunities the job provides for you to practice new skills and gain the experience you’re looking for.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ Other: 40+ 

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.


Leave a comment

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Midwestern US, Public, Rural area, Suburban area

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.