Category Archives: 200+ staff members

We are committed to the Mansfield Rule

[Library of Congress. Charge desk (Librarian Ainsworth Rand Spofford’s table)] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Manager, Information Resource Center

Titles hired include: Research specialist, assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application 

√ Resume 

√ References 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Hiring goes through HR, but they essentially send me all applicants to review. While I make all decisions, HR is also involved in the interviewing process, and handles things like background checks and references. The interviewing process is generally 1.5 hours, with the first half being myself and HR, and the second half being peers of the interviewee.

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

They were impressive because they had a deep knowledge and interest in the field. It was clear they weren’t just applying for every job that they could, but only those that really met what they were looking for.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

I have not yet had one.  

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?

Not being prepared. Know the role you are interviewing for, and the organization. 

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

We have, but rarely.

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 often hire librarians like this, as our field (legal) is very small in our community. Make it clear that you have an actual interest in the area.

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?

We are committed to the Mansfield Rule (guidelines for hiring in law firms), as well as posting jobs within various diversity groups within our region.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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?

√ 201+ 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Midwestern US, Special, Urban area

Their ability to perform searches rather than talk about searching

Photograph of the Librarian’s Conference, July 1, 1950. LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Librarian

Titles hired include: Librarians (research), Library Technicians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume 

√ References 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Develop position description for approval by senior company officer and by HR; ad posted; HR screens out resumes; library reviews remaining resumes; HR screens selected candidates; library interviews those who pass screening and makes selection; HR checks references for selected candidate; HR extends offer

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

Skill set; ability/interest in various library services; thoughtful responses; could help library grow services

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Long, rambling answers; not responding to question asked; unable to offer examples of how they performed/handled work in past positions; critical of past work environment; critical of junior employees; no research into the organization before the interview

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

Their ability to perform searches rather than talk about searching

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?

Focus on their past position rather than their fit for advertised position

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

Yes – treat as a regular in-person interview even though alone – there are others in the conversation.

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?

Demonstrate relevant experience such as present examples of transferable skills that illustrate they understand the position requirements

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Desired salary is a question in the HR screening interview and the HR rep can provide the salary range

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

Expands advertising sources to attract more diverse pool of applicants

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

What does success look like

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Mid-Atlantic 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: small-medium city

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: hybrid

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

To job hunters – explain skills and abilities with examples of actual work

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Special

It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian

Gemma Doyle is currently the Collection Development Manager at EBSCO, managing a team of other collection development librarians for the Books program. She spent over a decade as a paraprofessional in various library systems in the US and Canada before becoming a librarian. She worked in public and special libraries before moving over to the library vendor sphere with EBSCO. 

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

The application is screened by HR for bare essentials (MLS, etc.), phone screen by hiring manager or HR, first full interview by hiring manager, second interview by members of the team (2-3 people)

Titles hired include: Collection Management Specialist 1/Collection Management Specialist 2

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

√ 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?

The candidate had extensive experience in library work: had worked in different kinds of libraries, had supervisory experience, had handled a large budget used over multiple library departments, and had extensive achievements under each of these points of experience.  Their wide breadth of experience meant that they were comfortable doing just about any aspect of librarianship.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Someone who is inflexible and doesn’t have the ability to self-motivate will not last in this environment.  We work with so many stakeholders, and the work has such a fast pace that flexibility and motivation qualities in candidates really are necessary.

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

What they work like under pressure; how they really handle conflict.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

For jobs with us in particular, I would say making assumptions about the job even after we explain its requirements.  Library vendor work can be very different from working in an actual library, and it’s hard to convey fully to candidates what a corporate, for-profit environment can be like to work in as compared to working in a library, even if the job is for librarians. Some candidates may find that’s not an environment they thrive in if they’ve never experienced it.

In general, I think candidates want so much to sell themselves to the interviewer that they forget that interviewing should be a two-way street.  They should be asking a lot of questions to determine if they job is actually right for them, too. 

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

Yes – every position on our team is permanently remote, so we do all interviewing virtually, even if they are local candidates.  As for shining, mostly the same things in a face-to-face interview – preparation, double-checking time zones, etc. but also try not to let any technical difficulties throw you for a loop.  Interviews are nerve-wracking for everyone, including the interviewer, but dealing with issues as they arise and being flexible around them is going to give everyone a good impression.  

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 spent a lot of my early career as a paraprofessional, so I understand some of the nuances of making that transition. Mostly, I think it comes down to mindset.  It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian.  While you can answer the “tell me about a time when” questions using paraprofessional examples, you should also throw in “as a librarian, I would” answers. I’m going to want to know that I don’t need to train you on how a librarian should handle certain things, or even explain that there are differences there.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview (in the phone screen)

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

Every candidate is asked the same questions in the same order (with follow up questions relevant to them, of course); all interviewers attend anti-bias classes before hiring begins. The training is only as good as the intentions of those doing the hiring, and HR doesn’t really monitor the actual hiring process or ask candidates for feedback on the process, which I think would be helpful.

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 day-to-day job like? Is there an onboarding and training plan in place? What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job and the organization? are the ones that I think will give candidates insight on what it’s really like to work here.  The most important thing for them to know is that working for a for-profit company is going to sometimes be at odds with the ideals of librarianship, mostly in small ways but some big ones.  We try to stress that in interviews with candidates, but culture shock still hits hard whenever we hire anyone new. Candidates should definitely try to get a feel for the organization so they can make a choice that feels good for them.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions (our team is all remote)

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+  

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Suburban area

don’t look up stuff when answering

Elizabeth H. Bukowsky, a member of the National Archives’ Exhibits and Information staff, standing in front of a National Archives bulletin board exhibit prepared by EI [Exhibits and Information] and LI [Library] and displayed at the meeting of the Special Libraries Association at the Statler Hotel, Washington, DC, June 9-11, 1948. Photo by John Barnhill, NA photographer. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Manager, Facilities and Shared Services

Titles hired include: Senior Information Coordinator; Library Technician;

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Written Exam

√ More than one round of interviews

√ Other: Phone screen

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

I decide someone is needed

I get approval from my manager

I contact HR

I fill out FORMS and FORMS and FORMS with justification

I fill out more FORMS to get job pay range set

HR posts position on job boards, and uses HR software to manage

Resumes are sorted by software and HR (I always ask to see ALL, not just the ones that they think are qualified)

I pick who I want to interview

HR sets up interviews

I fill out more forms to justify my pick

HR offers them the job

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

Understood questions quickly

Easy to speak with

Understood the technology

Second language

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

spelling errors in resume or cover letter

Lack of spoken English

lying

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

not researching the company

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

be on time

don’t read a script

don’t look up stuff when answering

turn off your phone

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada 

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?

√ 201+ 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Canada, Special, Suburban area

Salary discussion is handled by the recruiter

Two men and a women use a machine with large sheets of paper
[Librarians feeding large sheets of paper through a machine at the Card Section of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.] From the Library of Congress

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for:

√ Other: Graduate Medical Education

Title: Director, Knowledge Management & Scholarly Communications 

Titles hired include: Research Publications Coordinator, Education & Digital Initiatives Specialist, Medical Writer, Medicare Editor

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

√ CV

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ 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:

Create job description, send to compensation, send to recruiter, review applicants meeting requirements, interview applicants, extend offer to prefer candidate via recruiter

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

So very knowledgeable about information systems and architecture

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No energy, doesn’t ask questions

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

How they got along with co-workers

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ Only One! 

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 asking questions

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

Yes.  It is really no different than an in-person meeting

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?

Provide examples of happy clients and successful projects.  Have a good answer to “Why should I hire you”?

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Salary discussion is handled by the recruiter

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

Lots of training, practice interviews

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

Leadership/management style,  culture, team and individual expectations

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?

√ 201+

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Southeastern US, Urban area

Many libraries are installing men almost routinely into the highest roles, including men without even a library background or the ALA degree

Three white men, two who are in military uniform, stand by a shelf of books
ALA Camp Kearny library Left to right: J.H. Quire, Camp Librarian, Fr. Herbert Putnam, Gen’l. Director, Library War Service, I.N. Lawson, Jr. Assistant Librarian From the Library of Congress.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library 

Title: Regional Manager, Library Services

Titles hired include: Library Technician, 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

√ 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:

Fill out position request forms, get approval, obtain funding, post job, review resumes, convene hiring panel, interview (w. HR rep present), make offer, get salary benchmarking, formalize offer by letter, receive signed offer letter back from employee. 

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

Researched the role, even brings notes (that is fine!); could give clear structured answers to questions (Describe a situation related to question; what actions they took, or things they had to consider, and the outcomes. Demonstration of practical experience in this way is helpful, and answers matter even if they are not directly related to the field (Eg a newly graduated librarian might given an example from another job and that would be okay provided it was well structured around the process they use in a given scenario). 3 minutes long is usually okay for each question, better to be a bit longer than not detailed. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Short interview answers with no details. Resumes that don’t list a speficif work duty and output or outcome related to it. 

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  

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

I don’t think anyone ever intends to make mistakes, we are human, people sometimes seem overconfident, but it’s nerves; or they seem nervous, but they steadfastly answer the questions, no one is perfect and my hope is that every qualified candidate understands that sometimes they only don’t get the job because they made it to the interview as 1 of 2 or 3 highly qualified candidates. It’s not often a lack of anything, just competitive markets sometimes. 

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

Yes. Job hunters – when asked to attend a virtual interview – should ask about the process: will someone be there navigating the virtual interview, introducing each panel member, reminding folks to take breaks, or pause to listen, checking to make sure the technology is working properly etc. It is the most unstructured interview environment otherwise. Another question is, how many will be on the panel for the virtual meeting?  I once attended an academic panel interview virtually that I was dropped into from the “lobby” with 14 faces staring at me and they said “Well, in the interest of time, we will just get going, I am so and so and here’s my question.” By the 5th interviewer question, I was lost on the screen, had not had a chance to set my Zoom side to speaker view only, etc, and every time someone spoke, they shifted on the screen. As a hiring manager now, I would make sure everyone is ready, comfortable and relaxed and technologically set up for the interview first. If someone says you will be facing a 7 to 12 person panel online, consider carefully what that flow will feel like for you, and what you need as the interviewee. 

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 biggest problem with libraries hiring library staff is this presumption that every library is so different. They are not. Organizations all have their people, budget, facility and online pain points. Soft skills and innovative thinking, program planning, etc is all transferable. My advice here for librarians in particular is to stop talking about being relevant as a library, and start talking about the profession and it’s components – it is information technology (from relational database work to tech management to teaching IT skills), it is information classification, it is community development (which transfer to any library, special, academic or otherwise, stakeholder, community, it’s all interchangeable), it is program planning, budget management, engagement work, adult education, etc. Everyone thinks they know what a library worker does – they truly do not. 

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?

This is something that needs serious addressing and as a hiring manager, I have been advocating for changes in this area, including naming the biases when I see them. This is serious work and it requires more than just a policy to change it and personally, I do not think my organization can even see it’s extensive hiring biases. What I see happening in Canadian library job markets is this: Library headhunters, especially those tasked by boards to hire at the highest levels of college, university and public libraries in Canada particularly continue to do a terrible job of seeking out diverse candidates. Of late, in Western Canada, many libraries are installing men almost routinely into the highest roles, including men without even a library background or the ALA degree – and male librarians have never been held back from leading in libraries in the first place. For example, in 2021, Calgary Public Library hired it’s first woman librarian CEO in its 109 year tenure  – that screams bias that it took so long and sadly, I see that bias against woman leadership in libraries continuing without any critique into 2022.  I can safely say that no woman has run a library in my province without all the required qualifications and then some. We hold men and women and people from diverse backgrounds to different standards for performance and it needs to stop. 

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

Candidates may want to ask a question to assess their own fit to the organization. For example, the candidate might say “In the past, I’ve enjoyed working in collaborative teams where ideas are respected and methods to act upon ideas are in place, how do you promote collaboration, respect and new ideas and innovation in your organization?” 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ Other: 7000 (special library inside larger organization)

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

I applaud this survey. I am wholeheartedly disheartened as a Canadian librarian that in my 20 years of library work, the strong guard of female and diverse mentors is reverting back to the traditional male library leader with a stay at home wife or not kids. It’s troubling in a way I cannot even express and I do believe hiring firms contracted by library boards or academic institutions are truly doing a terrible job and have no idea about the issues in feminized professions and continue to have processes that favour men, mostly white men, but generally men.  

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Canada, Rural area, Special

It is always better if your reason for making such a transition is that you are moving toward something you want

Ellen Mehling's face. She is wearing a cloth mask

Ellen Mehling has been assisting job seekers, both librarians/info pros and the public, for over 15 years. She has worked in academic libraries, special libraries, and archives, for an organization that serves libraries, as director of a library school program, and works currently as a job search advisor/instructor and for Brooklyn Public Library’s Business & Career Center. She is founder/writer/editor of BPL’s Work Life blog. 

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

Serve as hiring manager and/or on hiring committees, reviewing resumes, on interview panels (at current and past workplaces)

Titles hired include: Librarian, Archivist, Marketing Manager

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR 

√ 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 

√ Other: interview (usually a panel)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

An archivist hired at a past job – she had done her homework about the organization, and presented herself as calm, confident, and professional, in her interview. She turned out to be a great employee.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Dishonesty, including exaggeration of skills and experience.

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

What really happened at a past job, the real reason someone left a past position, and how things went with former supervisors and colleagues. Applicants are not always honest about these things(!), and if references aren’t checked properly and thoroughly, you can end up with a big problem. I have seen this happen more than once.

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?

Not preparing and practicing! This includes doing some research about the employer. Also, applicants trying to take over the interview and steer the conversation to what they want to talk about and things they want to share. The interviewer(s) is/are conducting the interview – I have learned that it is a huge red flag when an applicant is pushy and tries to take over the interview. AND dishonesty! (did I mention that already?)

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

Yes. Practice so you are comfortable on camera, and remember that “eye contact” = looking at the camera, not at the people on your screen. Being interviewed via Zoom or Teams or whatever is very different than just attending a meeting or presentation. Make sure the light source in the room is in front of you so you are not a faceless silhouette.

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?

Think of which skills you have already that can be applied to a different kind of work (transferable skills). Figure out what skills you may need to improve or acquire, and how you can do that. NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK! Explain (briefly) anything that needs explanation, in your cover letter and interview. It is always better if your reason for making such a transition is that you are moving toward something you want, rather than running away from something you don’t want (or a bad situation in current position).

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad  

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

How is success measured in this position? What are the first things they will need to get up to speed on if they are hired? They should know the job description thoroughly and know about the organization too. Their knowledge of the organization doesn’t have to be comprehensive but knowing nothing is a bad look.

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?

√ 201+ 

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

I am so happy Hiring Librarians has returned. It is such a helpful resource!

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, 200+ staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Urban area

It’s a good process, no complaints

Robert Stanley Dollar, Jr., Robert Stanley Dollar, Sr., and Jeanne Nichols, Librarian at Capt. Robert Dollar World Trade Library. From UC Berkeley Library Digital Collections.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Campus Librarian

Titles hired include: Reference & Instruction Librarian, Campus Librarian, Dean of Library Services

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)

√ Other: VP of Academics & President of College

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

√ Online application

√ CV

√ 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

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

Hiring committee of peers & Dean of Libraries

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

They were confident, knowledgeable, and direct/professional with their answers

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If they’re confused easily, stress out over simple questions, or say something racist/sexist in the interview

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

it’s a good process, no complaints

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?

underestimating the job responsibilities

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

Yes. Speak clearly, repeat the question to make sure you’re answering correctly, other than that… good luck. Virtual interviews all suck.

How can candidates looking to transition from paraprofessional work, from non-library work, or between library types convince you that their experience is relevant? Or do you have other advice for folks in this kind of situation?

If you sound like you don’t have any idea what we do, you’re not getting the job. If you sound like you understand what you’re in for, any application of your personal experience can help you.

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?

HR reviews the first round of on-paper candidates and requires certain protected-status candidates to get an initial interview in the 2nd round.

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

Relevant questions that are unexpected are always good. Asking about the working relationships & culture is good too

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern 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?

√ 201+

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, 200+ staff members, Academic, Southeastern US, Suburban area

Consistent use of STAR technique

Image: Hudson Park, Picture book hour, Miss Cutler, children’s librarian. From the New York Public Library

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Titles hired: Regional manager, Librarian, public service assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes

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

Pre screen panel of 3 interviewers, 3 questions, 10 minutes to answer. If selected to move on, 1 hour interview with 5 member panel

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

Consistent use of STAR technique, involvement in professional associations, and ability to articulate concepts from self guided professional development

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

Not providing specific examples to support answers

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?

Hype up customer service skills

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?

Pre and post bias discussion. Diverse hiring panel

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

I’d like them to ask more about our strategic mission and the culture between admin and branch level. What is the role of Librarian in the organization. How do you see it changing in the next 5 years.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Occasional WFH opportunities. Generally discouraged for non management

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Public, Suburban area, Urban area, Western US

I did a virtual interview this year where the candidate was playing a video game at the same time

Librarian stands at bookshelves talking to a teen
Image: Librarian with young reader in Browsing Room of the Nathan Strauss Branch for Young People From The New York Public Library

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Administrator

Titles hired include:

Librarian, Library Assistant, Clerk, Access Services Assistant, Security Manager, Library Administrator 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ 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:

Recruitment – alternating between internal and external, screened for minimum quals, randomly selected pool of about 20 at a time sent to interview panel (3-5 people), panel interview creates a list of ranked candidates based on score, names are referred out to hiring manager based on score and location/FTE preference, second interview is done at local level (3-4 people usually), selection is made. 

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

demonstrated leadership in answers,  complete answers, good sense of humor, thoughtful and prepared (we send questions at least 24 hrs ahead of time)

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Because we send questions ahead of time, someone who is obviously unprepared (doesn’t have an answer) is kind of a deal breaker. I did a virtual interview this year where the candidate was playing a video game at the same time. Poor answers to diversity and equity questions. 

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

references, and sometimes resume – only the initial hiring panel who makes the list sees the resume generally 

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?

incomplete question answers, answers that are too SHORT. If you have 30 minutes for the interview and you are done in 10, you need to rethink the details in your answers. 

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

yes. Don’t be afraid to communicate issues you have – poor internet connection or equipment, etc.  Otherwise, just relax. We are mostly taking notes and sometimes don’t even have you on our main screen, 

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?

It doesn’t take a lot to convince me. Candidates who can show parallels are actually my favorite because it takes skill to show how you have the skills without having worked in a library before. I try to have some questions to encourage this as well – ie. Tell me about a time you had to teach yourself something complicated, how did you go about it? What did you learn? What would you do differently? – Advice – have an awareness of how the library is part of a larger system, its own type of environment – think about public access on a bigger picture level. Say more than “I love the library” – tell us what a library means to you.  ASK IF THE PERSON HAS SEEN YOUR RESUME.  I tell people if we haven’t, which isn’t uncommon, but others might not think to tell you that before the interview starts. When you answer questions, answer every part – an incomplete answer is the easiest way to rank someone lower in a large candidate pool. When you are finished with your answer, go back and summarize your answer as it pertains to each part of the question – make there be no doubt.  

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

√ Other…

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

random selection pool of applicants, training on bias. Where bias still exists – in my org it does not exist as much for race, sexual orientation, or gender – but it’s very prevalent with older age and weight. 

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

Ask what an average day looks like, how promotions occur (although sometimes asking about this can give a bad impression that you don’t want the job you’re interviewing for so be careful about your wording). Most people ask what we like about working at the library. This is an ok question. Ask what our challenges are as a system or branch. Ask what success looks like for someone in this position after 6 months. Ask what type of employee the manager finds the easiest to manage and the staff the easiest to work with.. Benefits questions are best asked to HR. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+

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

Again – answer COMPLETELY.  Talk about teamwork, problem solving, and highlight your previous work experience. We do love to hear that you love the library, but make your answer larger than that – why? What does it mean to you? What do you think it means to the public or country at large?  If there’s something specific you need – ask about it – but also be careful. For example, we sometimes have people asking about very specific schedule needs around other responsibilities (school, children, etc). Weekends and evenings are part of public library life and jobs that don’t include one or both are few – so be prepared for that. 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Public, Urban area, Western US