“People that through their answers demonstrate attitudes that don’t fit in with the team.”

Betsy Humphreys, National Library of Medicine (U.S.), publisher., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling hiring practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.  

This person hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Manager of Collections

Titles hired include: Page, Collections Clerk, Collections Technician, Collections Librarian, Information Services Librarian, Page Coordinator 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References 

√ 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:

Updating job description, filling out forms on City HR site, reviewing resume/cover letters, shortlisting candidates with requisite qualifications, testing when required (eg. Policy interpretation, cataloguing test), interview 1, depending on position, a second interview may be required. 

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

They had reviewed policies and had made an effort to prepare thoroughly for the interview (looked at our website, etc.). They were able to provide parallel experiences to answer questions  when they didn’t have direct experience. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

People that through their answers demonstrate attitudes that don’t fit in with the team. 

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


How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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 answering fully or assuming we know something and not explaining.  Not preparing fully by reading about the library, doesn’t check out policies that relate to the position, doesn’t read the annual report. 

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

Yes we have.  We haven’t treated Virtual Interviews any differently than in-person interviews. 

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?

I would say that looking at the job description and listing the things you have done whether they were in a library or not. Parallel experiences can be very relevant.  Example, a position responsible for coordinating the movement of materials throughout the system –  we looked at a candidate that had experience working in auto part inventory management.  – we also looked at someone who had been a manager in a pet shop and dealt with inventory 

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?

Our goal in staffing is to get the best person for the job.  We live in a very multicultural region so having staff that reflect our customers is important to us as well.

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

What’s a day in the life of this position like?  What are you looking for from the successful candidate?  What do you see as the goals for this position in the first 2, 4, 6 months of this position?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

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? 

Preparation and completeness in answers are important!

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, Canada, Urban area

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