“We are a Christian institution, so much of this interview is about faith and fit with the university’s mission/vision.”

Australian Institute of Librarians’ inaugural meeting at Canberra, August 20, 1937. Photographer A. Collingridge, Canberra

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 LIS workers for an:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Systems & Electronic Resources Librarian

Titles hired include: Circulation Supervisor, Data Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ 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

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

When a position is available, the library director and the position’s direct supervisor work together to update the job description and draft a job posting. The posting is vetted by HR and posted online. After a decent amount of applications are received, the director and supervisor review them and choose at least 3-4 for phone interviews. Questions are provided to candidates ahead of time. 

We then determine who we’d like to interview on campus. We prefer to interview two so a comparison can be made, and before the in person interview is scheduled, we ask about salary expectations. Unfortunately for staff roles there is not a set amount, we have to advocate based on the role/candidate so we try to determine whether we’re in the same ballpark. (I would personally prefer a different approach but that is not my call to make.)

For staff positions, the interview is a few hours long (library tour, director/supervisor interview, and meeting with the whole team). It is longer for librarian positions, but we haven’t hired one in a few years. After in person interviews, the direct supervisor talks with references to aid in the decision making process – usually these references confirm our gut feelings about a candidate, though in one recent case the references convinced us to go in a different direction.

After we decide who we want to offer the position to, they need to interview with the Academic Affairs for fit. We are a Christian institution, so much of this interview is about faith and fit with the university’s mission/vision. If this person approves of the candidate we can officially offer the position. 

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

The last person who wowed me for a staff job position had a ton of experience. They were incredibly passionate about libraries, and spoke as if they already worked in our library. There is a fine line in that sort of environment between being too presumptuous and being confident, and they were very much on the confident side.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not asking questions about the job itself but rather ONLY about salary/benefits, dress code, or other logistics. Giving bad contact information for references. Not sending a thank you email after an interview (not because I think I deserve to be thanked for doing my job, but because I think this is a continuation of the interview – a chance to reiterate qualifications and indicate continued interest in a role).

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

The person’s temperament in a stressful situation when they haven’t had the chance to prepare like you can in an interview setting… their work ethic, their email etiquette, their real personality… basically, I am so curious to know what they are like on an average day, not when they are at their absolute best.

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 relevan 

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

I think women can be too hesitant to sell themselves at times, and many won’t advocate for themselves financially.

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

We haven’t so far but wouldn’t be opposed to it given specific circumstances. We typically have done phone interviews post-2020 and then in person. It seems for a first interview the phone makes it a little less pressure. 

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?

Many library roles work with people, so there is lots of opportunity to apply different types of experience to library work. Be creative and share examples of how your work has taught you X skill (customer service, organization, punctuality, etc.). 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: We discuss it between phone and in person interviews, and then negotiation takes place after an offer has been made. Not how I’d like to do this, personally!

What does your organization do to reduce bias in hiring? What are the contexts in which discrimination still exists in this process?

We are a small team… and it’s hard to implement some of the strategies I’ve read about online such as blind review. Also, as a Christian institution people do play up their connections to the university in their application so it is very hard to avoid some forms of discrimination/bias – according to our bylaws that is what we have to do (while following federal laws too – I know this is controversial but I did want to share this perspective on this site). I will say that I personally am not a member of the denomination of my institution though I am a Christian. I am also a younger member of our team. I try to “give people a chance” when I have the opportunity to hire. This means choosing to interview people who AREN’T graduates of my institution, or who may have a diverse background that would bring a new perspective to our team. 

This is all hard though, because of the type of applicants we get, and the type of people who want to work at an institution like mine. Baby steps though!

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

While we do get many applicants who are graduates of my institution, if they are not (or don’t have other personal connections) it is good for them to know the culture and the lifestyle agreement they have to sign, especially since we’re a faith based institution. Regarding the position, I think it depends if they have library experience or not. I feel like you can’t ask too many questions in an interview, so have at it! 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

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?

√ 0-10  

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 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Academic, Southeastern US, Urban area

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