Category Archives: 0-10 staff members

We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible

Archivist Sara Jackson. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library 

Title: library trustee and retired special librarian

Titles hired include: YA, PT and FT Children’s, Tech Services, Adult Services, Admin

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ 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

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ 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:

Job description (usually Union affiliated) must be approved by City as well as Union, job is advertised locally and on regional boards, resumes are reviewed by Lib Director and Head of HR to decide on interviews; interviews take place with Director, and relevant team members, sometimes reviewed by Trustees depending on level

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

Articulate, asked good questions, expressed genuine interest in position and also in growth in the organization, good skill set beyond just MLS skills

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Either on Zoom or in person, shows up in unprofessional dress, difficult expressing themselves when asked questions (not including nervousness), stumped to describe strengths and weaknesses or an important accomplishment or learning experience at previous job

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

Are they actually a good teammate; are they a responsible/reliable individual

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

Showing up without having done basic homework about the organization

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

Yes, same reasons as in question 8 (Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?) and question 9 (What are your instant dealbreakers?). We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible.  

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?

There are lots of relevant skills learned in non-library related jobs so it is important for a candidate to describe these and do their best to relate them to the job on offer.  Often parapro or pre-pro experience is like an entry level professional so I don’t look down on people who don’t have the degree.  An expressed desire to get a credential is important though it depends on the job.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview 

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

As a govt. organization and personally we are committed to a diverse workforce that mirrors the demographics of our city and we value the differing points of view that employees can bring to the table.  Given the lack of diversity in many MLS programs and libraries of all types, there is still a lot of discrimination in hiring, conscious or otherwise.

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

Questions about expectations not explicit in job description; also probing about how team dynamics work, any political or other issues that are involved that could impact the library, opportunities for growth if contribution is proven so how regular are performance reviews and who does them. Perhaps even typical frustrations experienced on the job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Archives, Northeastern US, Public, Urban area

Find something you genuinely want to know and ask that, it’s very obvious if you don’t actually care about the answer

Librarian in the National Archives Library, 1955, National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: University Librarian

Titles hired include: Library Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Application then interview. At higher level we have presentations and tests 

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

Was very relaxed in the interview and talked like they were actually answering the questions not just saying what they thought we wanted to hear

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not answering the actual question. Anything that shows they don’t understand what the job is

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: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

Talking for ages about something we didn’t ask. Not giving examples

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?

Find ways of adapting other experience and making it applicable to the new role

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?

Find something you genuinely want to know and ask that, it’s very obvious if you don’t actually care about the answer

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ UK 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Academic, UK, Urban area

With the political pressure libraries are facing these days, it would be great to know where potential hires stand politically, but that runs the risk of being accused of discrimination

A white man with glasses shows off a large illustrated book
Plymouth City Librarian Bill Best Harris, pictured here in 1976, who researched the Mayflower’s link to Newlyn CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Director

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Clerk and Substitute

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel 

√ Other: I just wanted to specify that directors are hired by the library board’s personnel committee and the directors hire the rest of their staff.

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

List the position on our website, relevant listservs and Facebook. In the past, I have taken applications directly on FB, but in the future I will probably do online applications through our website. I review applications as I receive them and depending on the amount of good candidates, either schedule phone/virtual interviews first or skip directly to in-person. After all the in person interviews are completed, I review references for my top choices and make a final decision. Even if I have an internal candidate in mind, I do list the job and interview any other strong candidates in case they may want to be put into our substitute pool. 

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

She was a recent college graduate who had work study in the college library. During that placement, she effectively replaced a full time librarian who went on leave and worked on digitizing an oral history project the college had started in the 1970s. It was a really useful experience that had led her to decide she wanted to be a librarian, and I could see how much she would add to our library. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

People who have a lot of complaints about their past jobs (especially customer service complaints), people who want a quiet job with lots of sitting and people who gush about how much they love reading.

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

With the political pressure libraries are facing these days, it would be great to know where potential hires stand politically, but that runs the risk of being accused of discrimination.

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?

Revealing personal information that I don’t want to know because even if I can’t consider it, just knowing it all makes it difficult for me.

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

I have. Test your equipment beforehand, but know that it will probably fail when you need it the most. Try not to show frustration and stay calm when that happens. 

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?

My library doesn’t require an MLIS for any positions so I don’t ever expect candidates to be librarians, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do the work. To me, library work is customer service work, so any customer service experience is helpful. I also like candidates with experience in educational settings and with IT work. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: I always list it when I hire, but the library board usually lists none or a range when hiring a director.

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

I don’t know if we are doing this work, honestly. I always try to think about increasing the diversity in my library, but I know there are some changes that need to be made to our job descriptions to avoid discrimination. I know that we (yes, I’ve been guilty of it myself) often think too much about age and gender when hiring, and I’m not sure how to fix that.

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

Anything and everything about the work they will be doing! But I get really excited when they ask philosophical questions about libraries and library work. That shows me they are really engaged and interested, and not just looking for any old job. I do think it is important that they know the pay, benefits and other things that are required of them; I don’t ever want to discourage someone with these things, but I do know that they won’t be good enough for everyone, and I don’t want people to sacrifice their financial wellbeing to work at my library.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

Please don’t follow up with calls and emails unless you haven’t heard a single peep and the job application window is closed. We are busy and understaffed, so following up feels like nagging because it takes away time I could actually be using to try to fill the position. That said, I will always, always, always reply to all applicants, even if just to say we haven’t selected them for an interview, because I believe that basic courtesy is so important to keep from making the job hunt even more demoralizing than it already is.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Public, Rural area, Southeastern US

They had questions pertaining to the work of our specialized library although they had no background in our type of librarianship.

A white man with glasses sits at a desk holding an open booklet
Folger Library. Mr. Slade, librarian at Folger Library. From the Library of Congress.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library 

Title: Library Director

Titles hired include: Medical Librarian; Library Tech

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Online application including screening questions. We are in a healthcare system so applicants must agree to vaccination willingness. Screened applicants are sent to the library director for review, then informal phone interviews where schedule, salary, any questions are discussed. Applicant then moved to interview with other library staff, also done online as we are geographically separate. Chosen candidate then offered the position through HR.

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

They had done research on our organization, asked questions about how the library fit into the overall goals of the health system, and had spent time looking at clinical databases. Mostly they had questions pertaining to the work of our specialized library although they had no background in our type of librarianship. 

What are your instant dealbreakers?

Lack of curiosity. Very few of our candidates have experience in our specialization and showing no interest in the resources we use (freely available) is a quick end to an interview. Lack of professionalism as well. We work with high level administrators, nurses, research scientists and physicians. They all must be treated respectfully and kindly, mostly through emails and we will judge the emails you send us as a preview of what will be sent to our patrons.

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

How well a candidate handles day to day variability. When we are a little slower will they look for other tasks that need to be completed or take on expanding their own education.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

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

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

Not showing any natural curiosity about our organization or work.

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

Yes. We do not turn on cameras so it is more like a big phone conversation. Just take a minute and breathe. We do a lot of virtual teaching and need candidates to be comfortable in this format.

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?

We take on candidates with very little experience in our type of librarianship. Having a background in ILL is great, but someone coming from retail is always helpful as well. Show me that you are interested in what we do, that you have initiative by learning about our work and the resources we use and we can have a great conversation. Someone that shows they are truly interested in our field will always outrank someone with experience but is just looking to get out of a library they dislike. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: I usually bring it up at the beginning of our phone interview. As in, this is when I need you to work and this is the salary range, does that work and would you like to proceed? Our pre-screen from HR asks for a range, we can usually meet or beat it. 

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

All of our interviews are virtual, but we keep cameras off. 

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

What role does the library play in the organization? Do you see your library growing in the future? Do you participate in research? Can I do my own library based research?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ Other: 6 library staff members; 9,000 associates

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

I would add a question about how you think your library pays in relation to similar systems in your area.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Northeastern US, Special, Suburban area, Urban area

Someone with expertise in an area we don’t have is usually attractive – something like e-resource management, coding and technical skills, archives, etc.

Rose Bush. From the UC Berkeley Library Digital Collection

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Reference and Instruction Librarian, Circulation Assistant, Circulation Staff, ILL Staff

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ 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?

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

The library staff write the position description for approval by HR.  We create a selection committee of 3-5 people (usually supervisor, a coworker, and someone from outside the library).  We have access to applications and review candidates, and choose 5-8 for interviews.  For most positions, after interviews, we choose a candidate and do reference checks (our HR requires two, one of which must be supervisory), then HR approves the hire and calls to make the offer.  For any MLS required position, there may be a second interview with administration above the library director.

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

Candidates that are attractive have specific experience that fills a hole in my library.  We are a staff of 5, so someone with expertise in an area we don’t have is usually attractive – something like e-resource management, coding and technical skills, archives, etc.  It’s also impressive when candidates are able to answer interview questions with relevant examples that demonstrate their experience – many candidates try to do this, but are often too vague.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If someone didn’t follow the directions in the posting, they usually don’t make my interview list, unless there aren’t many candidates.

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

As a very small community college in a rural area in the midwest, I’m always curious why people from out of state are applying, or why people very over qualified for the position are applying.  Answering those questions in a cover letter could be helpful.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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?

In situational questions, saying “I don’t know how I would handle that” or “I’ve never been in that situation before” without speculating about how they would handle it.  In general, just being short with answers and not providing details or not connecting their experience to the question.

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

Yes we do.  Make sure you’re in a quiet location with a generally not-distracting background, with a functional camera and mic.  Make eye contact with the camera, and be as engaging as you would be in person.

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?

Focus on skills – someone with k-12 education experience knows a lot about curriculum and organization and deadlines.  Someone with retail experience has skills in dealing with patrons and answering phones, and potentially social media and marketing or inventory management.  Those are all things we’re looking for, so just make sure to take the time to explain the tasks that you have done and how they are similar to what we do in libraries.  With my small staff, I’m often looking for someone comfortable making decisions on their own and responsible enough to work alone sometimes – highlight those kinds of skills, it doesn’t matter what the decision was about.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: We list a range in the job ad, and that’s all I can speak to at the interview.  HR determines their salary based on education and experience, and discusses specifics in the offer.

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

We have required EDI training before being placed on a selection committee.  All committees have a person of color serving on them, and ideally a mix of genders as well.  HR also reviews interview selections, and sometimes adds additional candidates to ensure diversity.  Because of the size of our institution, the same people keep getting asked to be on interview committees, which is not a fair ask.  

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

I just want them to ask something.  I don’t mind if they ask about salary or benefits, but like it when they ask something about the library or the job too.  Questions about management style, daily work and responsibilities, interaction with other departments, the college or library in general – all of that is good.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Midwestern US, Rural area

It makes the interviewers uncomfortable.

The Librarian, U.S. Naval Academy. From the Library of Congress.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Other: Military Base Library

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Library Technician

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes

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

We conduct interviews with a panel. If it’s my employee, it’s ultimately my decision. We have to have two positive references to hire.

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

Maturity, understanding of the work, job experience

What are your instant dealbreakers?

Anything that implies that the library is a quiet, easy place to work, someone who is eligible for a card and doesn’t have one, doesn’t live in the area, availability 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this 

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 knowing anything about the place they are interviewing for

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

Yes,  please practice with the technology. Also learn it, don’t insist that interviewers is a different one

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?

Customer service and understanding people is key

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?

When can I expect an answer, what does a typical day look like

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? 

People have started asking in interviews, “is there anything that would keep you from hiring me?” Don’t do that. It makes the interviewers uncomfortable. Ask after the selection is made.

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, Special, Suburban area, Western US

Kindness. Honesty.

Justin Hoenke is a human being and a librarian. He’s worked in public libraries in the USA and New Zealand, and is currently the Library Director of the Gardiner Public Library in Gardiner, Maine. 

His professional interests include creativity, public libraries as community centers, and music. He offers library consultancy services for public libraries and can be contacted at http://www.justinthelibrarian.com. 

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

We put out a job ad, we accept resumes/cover letters, we review what we have, we set up interviews, we hire!

Titles hired include: Archivist, Library Assistant, Youth Services Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References 

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?

Kindness. Honesty.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

It’s weird to say this as a librarian, but if all that you bring to an interview is “I love books” and “libraries are my home” that doesn’t bode well for you. I love books and libraries too, but it’s not the focus. I wanna know about you.

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

Not sure

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ As many as it takes, I love reading

CV: √ As many as it takes, I love reading

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

Not sure

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

Yes

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?

Be honest and open. Tell me what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown

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 treat everyone that we interview and hire equally. We are all in this together.

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 the workplace like

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: Rural/Suburban-ish

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

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, Northeastern US, Public, Rural area, Suburban area

Internal hiring and promotions happen 80% of the time for posted positions.

Bodleian Library, Oxford: Duke Humfrey’s library with a man studying. From Wellcome Collection via CC BY 4.0

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

 Title: Health Science Librarian

Titles hired include: Library Information Associate, Assistant Librarian 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ 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:

Job is posted for at least 4 weeks, then director and librarian take candidates based off of a rubric, phone interview with structured questions, interviewees are notified if they make second round, in person interviews, director and librarian meet and discuss candidates and select one to offer position. 

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

Library experience, customer service experience, math degree, knowledge of library systems

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

Internal hiring and promotions happen 80% of the time for posted positions. Also people have people in mind and hire them.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more 

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

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

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

They don’t share enough details or examples of how they have done or not done something. 

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

Yes, a quiet place is best if possible. Headset with mic helps. 

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?

Tell your story and share your experience. Explain why you want a librarian position and how your previous experience helps you. Share what you learned.

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 ask all candidates the same prepared questions. We ask staff to sit in on final interviews. We provide questions printed out at the final interview. There is still bias towards people with no library experience. We have HR collect application materials. There is an online portal and screening rubric to record ranking and decisions. 

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

Ask about the job and university environment? Ask about students and faculty needs? Ask about schedule and coordination for coverage during holidays etc. ? Ask about things you want to know? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10 

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Academic, Southwestern US, Suburban area, Urban area

In an interview – quietly confident. 

A librarian in a red shirt looks at books of fruit and vegetable images
Image: Special Collections librarian Sara B. Lee selecting fruit and vegetable images from the Rare Book Collection. USDA Photo by Peggy Greb.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ School Library

Title: Library Coordinator

Titles hired include: Library Attendant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Other: written key selection criteria

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Written applications submitted online; shortlisting; interview (usually with some practical component); second interview

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

On paper – thorough KSC answers, had researched our organisation, good attention to detail. In an interview – quietly confident. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lots of spelling errors in application; or completes application process incorrectly. Shows poor attention to detail!

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

How much guidance / detailed instructions they will need on the job and in training – something you generally pick up on in their first few projects 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

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

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

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

Not answering questions directly; not thinking about what the panel needs to find out about them

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

Honestly very similar to in-person interviews in my experience 

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?

We definitely take transferrable skills into consideration, so outline all those experiences. Show some knowledge of libraries too though – particularly the sort of work involved and what sort of organisations they are, not just an idealised view saying “I love reading so I want to work in a library!” 

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?

It very much depends on the individuals involved

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

Asking questions about their specific areas of interest, what projects they’d be interested to get involved in etc, helps because it helps the panel get to know them. 

It’s very popular to ask ‘what’s the culture like’ but I personally don’t think this is useful for either party – of course a hiring manager is going to give some generic positive spiel; if you have specific questions about professional development, flexibility etc – just ask that! 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Australia/New Zealand

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?

√ 0-10

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Australia/New Zealand, School, Suburban area

There is no “magic” question

Heather has worked in public libraries for several years, happily serving in every staff role. She cites the best part as helping staff reach their goals.

Outside of work, Heather can be found out hiking the local trails in Southern California.

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

First step is the online application with supplemental questions, second, the panel interview (internal or external depending on the position); if a two step position then it will be an internal panel second round interview. If a supervisory position, the final candidate would meet with the City’s executive team.

Titles hired include: Digital Navigators, Librarians, Supervisors, PT/FT

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

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?

They were enthusiastic about the opportunity, the organization and understood that working in a public library was a challenge but it was one they really wanted.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Attitude — unwillingness to learn, take direction; unfamiliarity with the job/organization; skills can be learned, attitude cannot.

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

Sometimes attitude isn’t revealed in the interview; there is no “magic” question.

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: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Being honest with themselves about whether or not this is the right position for them

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

Practicing beforehand and staying relaxed; it’s hard for both interviewer and subject; don’t be afraid to admit that this is awkward

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 and build a bridge or tell a story about your experience that links the two; I’ve done x and this is how it relates to or is similar to y

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 have not examined our practices for bias, yet, but will be doing so.

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

What can I do to be successful in this role; What would be the most challenging aspect of the position; what is the culture like; what do you like about working there

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western 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?

√ 0-10

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Suburban area, Western US