“The goal of our hiring is often to find a candidate who will benefit from our position as much as we will, but they need to ask questions that will help them decide”

Nevins Memorial Library First Librarians c. 1900
Nevins Memorial Library First Librarians c. 1900

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  

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: Dean, but a hiring committee makes a recommendation

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter 

√ CV

√ References 

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews  

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

Thoughtful answers that showed they were thinking about how their skills (or class work) could be applied. Also, enthusiasm for the specific type of work.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not being willing to do research/service (required at our institution), boasting that HR has had to step in and deal with an issue due to their behavior  

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more 

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

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?

Try to identify specific skills (like “attention to detail” from shelving books or even working retail) and connect that to the job requirements or listed duties. Often there are skills that transfer, even if the experience is different, but candidates need to connect the dots and show /how/ previous work, classes, hobbies, etc. have prepared them for /this/ position.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

Every candidate has different priorities  (e.g., opportunities for advancement, flexible schedules, research support, etc.) and the goal of our hiring is often to find a candidate who will benefit from our position as much as we will, but they need to ask questions that will help them decide whether it’s a good fit for /them/ or whether there are any “deal breakers” based on their own preferences (e.g., mentorship, clarity of expectations and/or responsibilities, funding for conference travel, degree of teamwork, cross-training opportunities, etc.). When applying for a position as a new librarian, or in a different area (public vs. academic, etc.) it may even help to reach out to someone in the field to ask about important considerations that broadly affect job success or satisfaction in that type of library (e.g., in a public library this may include things like how reference desks are staffed or programming expectations, compared to the previous examples related to academia).

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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, Academic, Southwestern US, Suburban area

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