“Rigidity, inflexible, too focused on collection”

An older white woman with grey hair, wearing a dark blouse or dress with a high collar and floral embroidery
Sabra Wilbur Vought, from a 1937 publication of the US Department of the Interior. No photographer credited, 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: Head Librarian

Titles hired: Library assistant, library assistant-manager

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

√ CV

√ Written Exam

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

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?

Out of the box thinker, creative.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Rigidity, inflexible, too focused on collection

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

Social skills

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

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

Too shy, too neutral.

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?

Social skills and flexibility are far more important than a library background. Collegiality, honesty, willing to learn new things is what will get you hired by me.

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?

If there is a written exam preceding the oral exam, the written exam is anonymous (personal info removed by HR).

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

Who will be my direct team/supervisor and what do they want or need? In a year from now, what will be considered a successful first year? What are some future projects coming up in my job position?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Europe

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?

√ 11-50

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Public, Urban area

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