“In an ideal world, I would love to know the one flaw that will most annoy me about working with them.”

Cleo S. Cason, from a 1971 publication of the US Department of Defense. 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: Event and Outreach Librarian

Titles hired include: Children’s librarian, clerk

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise) 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References 

√ 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:

We solicit applications, select from the pool of applicants who we want to interview, interview in a first round, and continue to a second round for those candidates that fit the role best. I (depending on the job) have been involved in creating the job description, selecting for interviews, interviewing, and making the decision on who to hire. 

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

They, both in the interview and on paper, were clearly passionate about the age group they work with and wanted to be a part of making our community and our library a better place. In their interview they clearly aligned with the goals of our library and on paper they possessed the kind of experience we were looking for. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Candidates who have no experience with customer service or who do not appear to be comfortable working collaboratively. 

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

In an ideal world, I would love to know the one flaw that will most annoy me about working with them. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

Resume: √ Only One! 

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Becoming too comfortable and being casual in an inappropriate way. 

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

We have not.

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?

If you have library experience but it’s not patron-facing experience, you’re less valuable than someone who has customer service experience. We can train someone to use software and to know how to find things, but it’s much harder to train someone in customer service. 

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 do nothing. EDI is ostensibly a part of our collection development, but apart from a line at the bottom of all job descriptions (ie., “Blank Public Library does not discriminate based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc.”), we don’t consciously attempt 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?

What sort of collaboration and communication style does this library have? What are your big goals over the next year? What ways are you trying to change and grow as an institution?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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, 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Suburban area

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