Category Archives: 100-200 staff members

Neurodiversity and physical ability aren’t even on people’s radars as indicators of diversity.

Photograph of the Visit of Mrs. Gladys Sheriff, Librarian of Fourah Bay College, University College, Freetown, Sierra Leone, to the National Archives, 7/23/1964. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Department Head

Titles hired include: Most positions don’t have titles, just profiles

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Other:  Department head (who is usually the supervisor for the position).

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ Other:  It depends. We usually have one round of interviews; two if there are 2+ good candidates. The second round will come with an assignment. 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

See comment under #5 (Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?). The hiring process is somewhat simple and structured and governed by policy. The writing of the job description and getting approval from the director is a long, less structured process.

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

Having a good cover letter, honestly. And in the cover letter, demonstrating that they’ve done a close reading of the job description and have a clear understanding of what the job entails. So few applicants do that – it makes the ones who do really stand out. Also, this has meant, in the majority of cases, a smooth transition into the new function – not to mention a good interview with a concrete foundation. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Maybe this makes me a jerk, but at the application stage, poorly formatted or unusually formatted resumes/CVs can be deal breakers (and by ‘unusual’, I don’t mean like the amazing comic resume/CV one candidate submitted).

Reason 1: I want my team to have good teammates. My team specializes in information and data literacy, which includes presenting info and data clearly and with/within certain professional standards. So, to me, the format alone already gives some indication about whether the applicant is at the expected level – and in some cases, if they are tech or information literate themselves. 

Reason 2: We process, review and respond to every single application ‘by hand’ so anything that makes a resume or CV harder to read and get through (like dates in weird places, inconsistent or odd formatting or fonts, missing email addresses, etc.) means it can get overlooked in favor of those without issues. 

That said, a good cover letter and some enthusiasm will almost always win the day.

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

If they’re going to drop out after getting tenure and/or make things harder for the rest of the team.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Only One!  

CV: √ Two is ok, but no more 

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

Being too nervous or putting too much pressure on themselves to do everything ‘right’. I’m just trying to have a conversation to get to know the candidate & I’m not trying to trick anyone or pull any gotcha moves. I want to know who the candidate is and how they think and what they want from the job. I want to see if there’s a connection and if we can work together.

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

Yes! I’m not sure, honestly. 

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 at least two levels for me here. 

#1 is organizational awareness or sensitivity or understanding of working in a large or complex organization. One interviewee talked about her experience organizing a volunteer event with the city, but she forgot to inform an important party about something and ended up causing some hurt feelings and mistrust. She was able to resolve things but learned a lot of lessons about stakeholders and hierarchies. Her example was convincing and worked for me.

#2 is content knowledge. This is a little trickier, perhaps. I’d be convinced by someone demonstrating some research and/or asking good questions. For example, one fresh graduate from a non-library program asked which information literacy framework we followed and then drew upon her experiences as a student to connect to the job description and tasks. “After I saw the framework, I thought back on the library skills training we did as freshmen and I realized how well the training fit with the framework. I never knew!”

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 are required by policy to have diverse interview teams (usually 3-4 people in any interview process). ‘Diverse’ has very little meaning here as 95% of the library staff are white and local to the region. A ‘diverse’ interview team generally means we have to have men + women, preferably from departments outside of our own. Neurodiversity and physical ability aren’t even on people’s radars as indicators of diversity. Strangely, LGBTQ+ people are so accepted as to be almost invisible, hence the return to man + woman as indicators.

Discrimination is still crazy. In one application round, we had a fantastic application from someone who grew up in Vietnam. He had an amazing cover letter, too. My former boss said, “Guess we’ll have to pass on this one.” I asked why. He said, “You know how they are. No respect for women. We already have enough turmoil in the department.” (The turmoil being me, the first new employee in 10+ years, and an immigrant to boot.) After picking apart his weak ‘argument’, I took the issue to HR. 

In what contexts does discrimination still exist? Well, that ^. Also in what I wrote above about semi-dismissing messy resumes/CVs. We could very well be rejecting good candidates who just don’t know how things work here (not that we get many applications from people from diverse or international backgrounds), even with lax language requirements.

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

Ask me anything! It’s important to know that we, like all other university libraries in the country, work with profiles and not with strict job/task descriptions. That means that in 3 years or 5 years or whenever, people can be asked to do different tasks that fit their profile. I see it as an overall positive, though it was very confusing when I started my own job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Mainland 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?

√ 101-200 

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

To you: good questions – good food for thought! Thanks for the opportunity to reflect!

To job hunters: I’d rather hire a person with potential who fits with the team and has a growth mindset than a stick in the mud with experience.

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, Urban area

Job postings and position descriptions are a major problem

[Librarian Belle da Costa Greene, three-quarter length portrait, standing, facing slightly left] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

√ Special Library 

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Archivist, project archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ 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

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Online applications go to HR who conduct an initial screening, they send applications onto the hiring committee which is almost always chaired by the supervisor for the open position.  The hiring committee always includes multiple staff from across departments with some knowledge of the work the incumbent will be performing (supervisor, curator, someone in a parallel or very similar position within the unit, someone with a tangentially related job in another unit). The committee goes through bias awareness training with HR.  The committee reviews all the applications and discusses them. In the searches I’ve been involved with, we go around the table and discuss each candidate and generally rate them as a yes, maybe, or no, though there is no formal rubric for this.  We go through the yes’s and maybe’s and narrow down to a few people we want to bring for a phone screening.  After the phone screening we narrow the finalists who will be invited for a full day interview.  The full day interview includes interviews and lunches/events with various configurations of staff from various units.  The committee collects feedback from staff on the candidate.  The committee meets to make a decision.  It’s generally after the full-day interview when we check references for the candidate we want to make the offer to.  HR reaches out to make the offer and handles the salary negotiations, sharing info about benefits, etc. 

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

Their cover letter was exceptionally well-written and told a compelling story about their career and why they were a great fit for the position.  It was truly impeccably written and the entire application package included a good mix of quantitative info (# of collections worked on, quantifying budget and workflow efficiencies) and more qualitative information about what they enjoyed about the work, their working style, and what it’s like to have them as a colleague.  One thing that really impressed me was that the cover letter included tidbits of how their colleagues would describe them and their accomplishments.  “I’m well-known within the department for my XYZ skills.  My colleagues have asked me to review documentation because of my expertise, and I am frequently asked to liaise with XYZ committees and units.  One colleague described me as “our resident XYZ expert.”  That kind of thing. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If it’s clear from the CV and/or cover letter that they do not understand the job they’re applying for.  Something like applying for a cataloging position and spending the entire cover letter talking about how much they want to focus on exhibits and instruction. 

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

Honest assessment of their working style – not in terms of productivity but things like preference for oral vs. written communication, their preferred management style, the type of training they need and how they would like it delivered.  In my experience people are so eager to please that you can’t get a good sense of this from the questions we ask.  There are lots of vague answers which makes it difficult to gauge the type of training and onboarding they would actually need and whether it’s realistic for us to provide that in the way that would make them most likely to succeed. 

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 

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

Not doing enough research about basic subject knowledge and core competencies for the position.  Not anticipating or being prepared for behavioral type questions “tell us about a time when…” “Tell us how you would hypothetically handle this situation…” 

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

Yes, we do Zoom interviews.  It can be hard to get the same degree of connection, so it can feel a little awkward.  Not much specific advice but don’t be afraid to ask for questions or clarifications.  

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?

This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I honestly don’t have much advice for paraprofessionals or folks in this situation because I think the problem is absolutely on employers and hiring managers, not on the applicants themselves.  If you’re switching between library types you can definitely emphasize the functions which are the same and the skills that are transferrable.  If you’re a paraprofessional you can emphasize the degree to which you worked independently, and perhaps any areas where you have leadership or were asked to consult or offer your advice on workflows, documentation, etc.  Those are both indications of professional growth and expertise and ability to move into a professional role. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer 

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

HR does a training about this but in my opinion it is inadequate. 

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

I love when candidates have done a bit of research and ask about specific initiatives going on at the library, if they have a sense of recent projects we’ve done or know what our standards and workflows are, at least at a very surface level.  I also like questions about training and onboarding and the possibilities for cross-training and professional development.  It’s good when someone shows initiative and interest in a particular area, a willingness to be more involved professionally, or even offers feedback or suggestions if we’ve mentioned a particular challenge or ongoing issue.  

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?

√ 101-200 

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

Job postings and position descriptions are a major problem.  They need to be clearer, more specific, and more transparent about a lot of things. I’ve personally applied for jobs where the job description listed every possible archives/library function under the sun, it seemed like a generalist job with “additional duties as assigned” thrown in for good measure, only to get to the interview and realize that the employer had a very specific focus for the job (95% one function or task) and they use a boilerplate job desc or just include all those other things so you can’t make the case that you’re being given tasks outside your scope.  Also, be transparent about salary, benefits, hours, and onsite vs remote work time from the get go.  

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, Archives, Northeastern US, Special, Suburban area, Urban area

Please be aware that job duties vary so much that it is not enough to say/write the titles of the positions held – convey the range, extent

Mrs. Joan Fertig, Hungarian-born librarian at the Westinghouse plant. LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

√ Other: Government Library – State Library

Title: Assistant Director

Titles hired include: Librarian, Senior Librarian, Research Program Specialist, Student Assistant, Intern

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Written Exam

√ 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:

If I have a current position vacancy in my unit, I craft a current job description with details on duties and responsibilities submit it to the director and then HR to review/approve before the recruitment plan is crafted with HR assistance – how long to keep it open, screening criteria grid  to apply for applicants, interview questions (with suggested responses, scoring grid), where to post position availability.

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

They were able to communicate their ideas and response to the questions in a way that highlighted their strengths, skills, experience – and even when they didn’t have specific experience or familiarity with the question or topic, were able to translate/bridge similar qualities and experiences

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Too shallow or glib responses that do not address the questions asked

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

How well they interact with colleagues, how they act under pressure and with multiple and often conflicting deadlines

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

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?

Fail to fully answer/address the question asked with sufficient details and information

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

Yes, all have been handled virtually since COVID first prevented us from working onsite, mid-March 2020. The first few were conducted in Teams and Zoom, with audio only enabled (cameras for applicant and panelist turned off). In this instance, vocal variety, enunciation, level, tone are big factors. Pre-COVID, we had done a couple of interviews virtually with cameras on – lighting, presentation, background noises will be playing a factor along with the others noted for interviews with the camera off. In both cases, it is important for candidates to present their best selves with thoughtful responses.

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 able to communicate how and why their experience relates to the job duties and responsibilities of the position they are interviewing for. To connect the dots and map it out explicitly so that the interviewer(s) are able to understand  – if they have similar experiences or skills-set in other jobs even if the job titles or industries or settings are different – doing so helps put things into context and makes the roadmap much clearer.

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?

Audio only virtual interviews, review of interview questions to ensure all are objective and job-related, interview panel includes HR rep. The state civil service system can be mystifying and a bit of a challenge to navigate and time consuming process – it is not a discriminatory practice or process on its merits, yet those responsible for hiring are interviewing candidates, and how they judge/score their responses might be subject to prejudice, and they are faced with choosing among comparable candidates after the interviews and making decisions about which one would ‘fit’ in with the staff, and this is another area where bias and discrimination could take place (whether implicit or explicit).

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

Seems like it would vary by the candidate – whatever is important to them should be raised/asked. This is a two-way interview, and those on the hiring panel are/may be colleagues. At the very least, ask a question (or two) that shows the candidates have done a little homework – checked out the company and or unit website or conducted a search to see what is being talked about or shared (program news, updates) and plans for the future.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: My entire unit is working virtual; and it varies throughout based on work responsibilities

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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

Please be aware that job duties vary so much that it is not enough to say/write the titles of the positions held – convey the range, extent. Also, do not dismiss/overlook experiences and skills obtained through volunteer work, either with a professional association (library or information pro) or personal association

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, Other Organization or Library Type, Special, Urban area, Western US

I want to hear criticality from candidates, it’s a form of problem solving, but I do not want constant, unproductive negativity.

This former salesgirl, librarian, and sixth-grade school teacher has been repairing and servicing cars which used to be only open jobs for men. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Curator of Special Collections and Archives

Titles hired: Processing Archivist, Dance Archivist

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

√ CV

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

For staff, there is a posting that is reviewed prior to posting by supervisor and HR director, then posted to a variety of library and state job boards. The committee reviews all applicants for qualifications (req or preferred) and decides on a pool to interview virtually. The committee does virtual interviews with candidates, and decides on the candidate they would like to make an offer to, after checking references of the top candidate/s. They make a verbal offer contingent on a background check. The candidate, supervisor, and hr director discuss salary and a pay rate in the posted range is decided upon and if the candidate accepts, a formal offer letter with a start date is created and signed. The faculty process is similar but far more involved, and has 2 rounds of final interviews, one that is short, and a final that is the equivalent of half a day (and still virtual). The committee brings the final candidates to campus after the offer has been made, and the candidate decides after the visit.

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

Framing challenges positively, actually speaking to the position in the application materials.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Indicators that someone is overly critical in unproductive ways. I want to hear criticality from candidates, it’s a form of problem solving, but I do not want constant, unproductive negativity.

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

How they treat people who are more vulnerable than they are.

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?

Not speaking to the position announcement, being too general.

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

The usual. Make sure we can hear you.

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?

All leadership in all roles is relevant. A LOT of people who have never directly supervised people have leadership experience, from school, from life. Writing documentation, training, being a ‘team lead.’ Use it. Play it up.

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 don’t de-identify application materials, and should.

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

What kind of support they can/should expect.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern 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?

√ 101-200

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Academic, Archives, Southwestern US, Urban area

If they speak differently, or better, to me once they figure out I’m the Director, I won’t hire them.

Donald Fowle, librarian in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Reference Librarian, Branch Manager, Deputy Director, Finance Manager, Children’s Specialist, Marketing Coordinator, Archives Assistant, Young Adult Specialist, Administrative Librarian, Community Engagement Coordinator

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)

√ Other: for leadership positions we include at least one staff member who would report directly to them

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

√ Other: Librarian License for applicable positions

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

All applications are received by our Office Manager. She screens for clearly not meeting qualifications. Those that make it through that phase go to our Deputy Director. He screens for skillset and coordinates the panel. The panel is led by the senior librarian in the channel being hired for, a supervisor or peer for the position being hired, and a member of our diversity committee. The Office Manager arranges for the interviews. Once the interviews are complete, the Office Manager coordinates the background checks and drug tests. For senior level positions – meaning the Administrative team – those come to me directly. Those interviews are typically 3 rounds. They include a telephone interview, a meet and greet with the departments they will support and a formal panel interview. I hold all hiring responsibilities as delegated by our library board. I almost always follow the recommendations of my team. I can only remember one time that I vetoed a decision.

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

They were familiar with our organization and shared how they would fit in it.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

As the director, I most frequently will be the one to greet applicants at the door. Most of the time, they think I’m my Office Manager. If they speak differently, or better, to me once they figure out I’m the Director, I won’t hire them. Equity and the value of every patron is one of our core values. I need to know they will live that out without someone watching. ** I forgot another one. I’m a female. My Deputy Director is a male. If a candidate only speaks to him and refuses to address me, it makes it clear that my leadership won’t be recognized.

Is there anything you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

No.

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?

No knowledge at all about who we are or what we do. Asking me questions that you can find on the website such as our hours or locations demonstrates lack of initiative.

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

Yes. Learn the technology. Everyone has rough days or technology challenges so we have grace for that. But if you are applying for a technology librarian, you should be able to share your screen in a common platform.

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?

Our organization focuses on excellent services as a part of our mission. Being able to demonstrate customer or public service makes every applicant stand out. I wish that parents who have taken a break from work would better understand their value. I know this isn’t the same as the question but I find that parents tend to undervalue their experiences at the interview table. 

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 a diversity committee that has reviewed our interview question bank. We have a member of the committee on each panel. We have recently started clearly defining the necessary skills prior to the interview to make sure that we are all evaluating the same thing. We have also experimented with a focus on numerical evaluation though that had its own challenges.

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

I like being asked what our priorities are for the early months. I like questions about the culture of the organization because it shows that the applicant understands the value of a healthy workplace.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: We are a large regional system made up of urban and rural areas.

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Only during COVID quarantines.

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, Public, Rural area, Southeastern US, Urban area

I wish I could know if the job was a stopgap or stepping stone, or if they really were ok with working for such low pay.

Antoinette Humphreys Hollabaugh, from a 1911 newspaper. No photographer credited., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Manager

Titles hired include: Public Services Assistant, Youth Services Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Other: The position’s supervisor and one other manager in the hiring department

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

HR screens applicants based solely on their qualifications matching. Those that are qualified are passed on to the hiring manager who decides who to interview. I am the hiring manager at my branch. 

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

Before we opened, I saw him on the steps engaging in casual conversation with the homeless men who were waiting to come inside and warm up. It was a good indication that he had the right attitude for this library and its clientele. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Failing the alphabetization test. I let that slide once and regretted it. 

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

Honestly? I wish I could know if the job was a stopgap or stepping stone, or if they really were ok with working for such low pay. (I don’t control the pay rate.)

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this 

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?

I’m tired of hearing vague claims about how much candidates value the library. If they are really a library user or advocate, I want them to tell me something that demonstrates that. If they aren’t, that’s okay! Tell me something else that shows me that they’re a kind, helpful, socially aware, critically-thinking and/or tech savvy human that is interested in learning how awesome the library is. 

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

Yes. Candidates seem to grasp what’s needed virtual interviews. 

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?

Since I hire paraprofessionals rather than librarians, I can’t answer this. 

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?

Nothing, as far as I know. 

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 like questions that show they have given the position some thought. It’s important for them to know that they need patience and that not everybody is nice to you at the library. It’s a customer service job. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Urban area

In the many years that I have interviewed and selected a new employee, I tend to select on the person’s attitude, staying on point to the questions asked, experience.

Nederlands: Collectie Fotoburo de Boer. Houts, Nils van (UP de Boer), CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Branch Manager

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Library Services Supervisor, and Library Information Services Specialist.

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Written Exam

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Not sure

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

Receive and review applications, conduct interview and make selection.

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

Even though the position is mostly a paraprofessional, the amount of experience in a library setting was very good such as working at a bookstore, volunteer at a library and/or past public library experience. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If the person does not show much interest in the interview and or is expecting to be selected because of a family member working with our organization.

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

DOB

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

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?

Disinterest.

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

This year alone we have conducted virtual interviews.

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?

In the many years that I have interviewed and selected a new employee, I tend to select on the person’s attitude, staying on point to the questions asked, experience.

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

Dress code and possibilities for promotion.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual? 

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Public, Southwestern US, Suburban area

Not thinking about EDI even though it is in the job description

men move crates of records
Unloading War Department Records at the National Archivee. From the National Archives Catalog.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

Title: Processing Archivist

Titles hired include: Distinctive Collections Head, Archivist for Collections, Metadata Operations Engineer, [Project] Archivist, Metadata Librarian

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

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ Other: Presentation, some positions may be a half day of interviews

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

Applications get narrowed by HR, hiring committee decides who gets phone interviews and conducts these interviews, committee decides who comes for in person (or virtual) final round interviews, candidates meet with committee, stakeholders, peers and/or reportees, higher library admins, and may give presentation to the entire libraries. A casual lunch is usually part of the interview day, but feedback isn’t given for that session. Assessment forms go to anyone that participated in the interview or viewed presentation. Committee assesses feedback and makes recommendation. Ultimately committee chair makes the decision on who to recommend (committee chair tends to be the person that will be reported to) which has to get approved by the library director. I have served as a hiring committee member or stakeholder in searches.

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

They had been actively involved with professional development through volunteering on committees, despite being relatively new to the field.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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 thinking about EDI even though it is in the job description. (Or having too narrow a view of diversity)

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

Yes. When giving a presentation, be aware of how you look when delivering it. (Please don’t be obviously reading from the screen, when it is easy to do it surreptitiously.) Understand the platform, test it out beforehand if possible.

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?

I think by tailoring how you describe these positions to play up the relevant experience. If you understand what is relevant and show it, it helps.

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?

Generally we try to have feedback forms that quantify how well a candidate does as compared with the job requirements. We also are encouraged to read an article on bias before starting reviews. We also try to give every candidate the same experience, from questions to schedules. Some decisions are very much up to the opinions of a small few. Phone screens are subject to the greatest bias.

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

Questions that show interest in the position or are aimed at better understanding expectations. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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?

√ 101-200

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Archives, Northeastern US, Urban area

They don’t need to be just like us – it’s great if they’re not! – but I need them to not bring toxicity in.

portrait of Edwina Whitney, Librarian,
Edwina Whitney, Librarian, University of Connecticut, 1916. From Wikimedia Commons.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Department head (any more specificity there will be self dox!)

Titles hired include: Business librarian, science librarian, public health librarian, social sciences librarian, business manager, director of communications, HR officer, Research & Instruction Librarian, Department Head (for other departments)

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ Other: A search committee recommends to the dean, who makes the final decision in consultation with the supervisor where needed

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ Other: Skills test where appropriate for the position.(and not all these things are required for every position)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Yes for staff positions, no for faculty positions

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

For faculty positions, a committee is formed and I both chaired those committees and been a member of them.  Positions posted, applications reviewed against a rubric, screening interviews done,  finalist candidates brought in, offer made.  For staff, the position is posted on the university site. For some positions (higher level staff positions) there’s a committee, but for most it’s the direct supervisor doing the interviewing/hiring with feedback from potential coworkers as available/appropriate

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

They looked into us, especially for the interview stage, and let us know they were interested in this position. The cover letter was about the position/university and what they could bring/why they were interested in it.   Especially at the campus interview point, it was clear that they had looked into the library and the university. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Application meant for another institution. A cover letter that is simply “I am applying for X position” that doesn’t address anything about the position.  Not submitting what we need at the point of application (which for us is literally the cover letter, resume/CV, and list of references

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

What they’re like as a colleague. We’re not a huge library and we work together. They don’t need to be just like us – it’s great if they’re not! – but I need them to not bring toxicity in. We’ve worked hard to improve the culture of the department and I don’t want it to slide back to where it was before I joined it. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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 researching the library/university. We put all our strategic plans, mission, values, online. Read them!  

Also, if you have a presentation, pay attention to the topic.  If we ask you to address, say 2 of 4 items, that’s to help you focus your presentation. We know you can’t address all of them well, so please, really do pick 2 of them!

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

Yes for screening interviews, not currently for final interviews since we’ve returned to campus.  Honestly, I don’t know other than to test your connections, microphones, everything. If they’re using a system you’re not familiar with, ask if there’s someone who can do a pre-interview test with you. 

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 me how it’s relevant.  Really!   Put it in your cover letter, clearly. Say “your posting asks for teaching experience. While I don’t have classroom instruction experience, I was the designated trainer for my shift when I worked at In-n-Out, where I trained groups of up to 10 employees at one time. I had to adjust training style to different employees, I had to check in with them for understanding a key points, and I had to follow up with them”

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: For most jobs it’s part of the ad, at least for the department I manage. There are some in the library who don’t want to include it, but I think it is an absolutely essential piece and I won’t post an ad for this department without one. 

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

1) HR removes identifying information from application materials for the initial review

2) For the screening interview, we ask candidates to keep their cameras off

3) Provide the screening interview questions ahead of time, and at the campus interviews, a  print of the questions that day

4) give clear explanations of each group/person they’ll be meeting with and why that’s relevant

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

This depends so much on what’s important to the candidate. Personally, I always ask about process – how things get done if someone has a new idea, because that’s important to me.  I also ask questions to dig into the culture of the department, library, and institution.

As important, ask the same questions of different groups/people that you meet with. Not everyone will have the same answer, but they shouldn’t be at odds with each other. 

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?

√ 101-200 

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

Please have someone (or more than one someone) review your resume and cover letter – ESPECIALLY the cover letter. Resumes can be somewhat generic IMO, but the cover letter needs to be specific.  Having people look at it in relation to a job ad and tell you why they’re making the suggestions they are will help you as you apply for jobs. 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Academic, Southeastern US, Urban area

And we are still hiring mostly white candidates for all positions.

Librarian Augusta Baker showing a copy of Ellen Tarry’s “Janie Belle” to a young girl at the library. From the New York Public Library

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Branch Manager

Titles hired include: Library assistant, senior library assistant, principal library assistant, librarian, branch manager

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)

√ Other: County administration, library commission (governing board)

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

√ Online application

√ 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:

I work in a medium urban/suburban county public system. Application required. Typically one interview with a panel of three, the supervisor and two staff at same or higher titles. Successful candidate approved by library commission and county administration. Can take 4-6 weeks to notify candidates. 

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

Expressed empathy, no direct library experience (was for a library assistant job) but demonstrated strategic thinking, problem solving, ability to help patrons figure out our systems 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

I tend to pick out a “most important question” in the interview that really gets to the heart of what’s important for this person for this role. For my branch, it’s the question about what challenges an urban library faces, and how the candidate might address them on a personal and professional level. A weak answer on that question is hard to overcome. 

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

Even though we only require an application, at least a cover letter is so helpful. Please practice responses to likely questions ahead of time. If you’re an internal candidate, pretend we don’t know you. Ask at least one good question of us, and not just “when can I expect to hear back.” 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Their only question for us is “when will I hear back.” It’s a fair question! But we’d love to answer more.

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

Yes. Nothing really – I think we all recognize we’re all doing the best we can with this. Some colleagues expect candidates to have video on but I wish we could come to a consensus that this isn’t necessary – we shouldn’t ask about or discriminate based on internet bandwidth. 

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?

Candidates with retail and food service experience are amazing! Talking about how you provided good service in these challenging jobs is the best – please don’t hold back. 

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?

Insist we write down candidate answers word for word as much as possible. We are instructed to base hiring justifications on interview answers and applications, nothing else. I still see age related bias, on both the younger and older ends of the spectrum. The thing about insisting cameras be on for virtual interviews is no good. And we are still hiring mostly white candidates for all positions. 

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 a typical day like, how are staff supported by supervisors, do you feel this is a healthy workplace. Our organization in general does its best, but due to the political climate salaries and vacation for new hires are egregiously low and we have long, long vacancies when people leave. Everyone, especially managers, are stretched very thin. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US  

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Only remote for most meetings and interviews

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, Northeastern US, Public, Suburban area, Urban area