Category Archives: 50-100 staff members

Feel free to take notes in the interview and ask to repeat or go back to other questions if you need more time.

Luther Harris Evans presiding over the Librarian’s Conference. Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Public Library Reference manager

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

HR screens candidates and does a first round interview. Next a panel including the potential supervisor interviews the candidate. Sometimes the candidate is recommended for another position, then they’ll have another panel interview.

Titles hired: Reference Associate

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ 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

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Unsure

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

They had a good attitude about library service.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No customer service experience. Talking badly about underprivileged people.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Acting disinterested, not asking good questions

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

I have not

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

Customer service experience like bartending or barista will always impress me.

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?

What are the patrons like.

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?

√ 51-100

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

Feel free to take notes in the interview and ask to repeat or go back to other questions if you need more time.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Urban area

This makes me wonder what you’d say about me/my library in the future.

John J. Daley. Photo by Flickr user Archives of the Law Society of Ontario

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Adult Services Librarian

Titles hired include: Adult Services Librarian, PT Library Technician, PT Library Technician II

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ 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 

√ References 

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes  

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

All of our applications are coordinated through governmentjobs.com. 

1) Initial screening: HR does the initial screening based on the requirements of the position and the application filled out via governmentjobs.com. 

2) Reviewing applications: All librarians have a log in to governmentjobs.com and we evaluate all applicants that passed HR’s initial screening. We then send our top 5 (give or take) applicants to our department head.

3) Department head selects the final list of applicants and schedules a phone interview.

If the job posting is for a PT person in the department, the Dept Head usually has one librarian with her doing the phone interviews and in-person interviews. If the posting is for a librarian-level position, she tries to have all librarians in the department available for phone and in-person interview.

4) After phone interview, hiring committee selects who they want for in-person/Zoom (if they don’t live within a reasonable distance)

5) After in-person interviews, the person is selected.

Our city HR department then takes over again to notify the selected candidate.

Whenever applicants call/visit the library to check in on their application status, we refer them to our City HR. The Library does not respond to these requests.

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

They took the time to look specifically at our library. They made mention of upcoming or recent programs, they read Library Board Minutes, when asked questions about ‘Why do you want to work here’ they had specific reasons for wanting to work at our library. It’s amazing the number of people we interview who I don’t think have even visited our library’s website to learn more about us.

Well thought out and detailed responses. We ask very basic questions relating to customer service and past experiences. Having specific examples is the best. Generic answers are not helpful.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Applicants who speak very negatively about their current or past employer. I understand there’s a reason you want to leave, but you can answer questions without basically trash talking about current/previous jobs. Also, this makes me wonder what you’d say about me/my library in the future.

Being overly negative in general. 

Not having any questions at the end.

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

Willingness to learn. Our staff is learning all the time…new resources that come out, staying updated with technology changes, it can be hard to tell if they will actually be comfortable with constantly learning.

If they will be responsive to our community. We don’t have any questions related to this, so this is our fault. But I want to know if a librarian coming in will be looking at our demographics, looking at our community needs assessment and really create programming and services for our specific communities, not just what they are interested in.

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 having any questions at the end of the interview for the hiring committee. Not researching our library ahead of time if they have never visited.

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

Yes. A microphone that works well and a stable connection to the internet. It is difficult to shine with garbled sound.

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 already value other types of experience. I think that library staff and librarians should reflect the community and bring a variety of experiences to our library. I would highlight any experience you have working with difficult customers. How you are able to problem-solve. I can teach you how to use our library catalog and how to use our library equipment, it’s harder to teach people how to engage well with residents.

Also, are there any experiences in your personal life you can pull from, if you don’t think you have relevant professional experience? Do you manage budgets for your house? Do you coordinate family/friend outings and experiences? That shows me you can research different offerings, make decisions, and coordinate logistics. 

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?

The city recently deleted applicants’ names and names of their colleges from applications so the hiring committee cannot be biased by names or reputation of the college.

My department prefers to hire staff that have previous library experience or students currently in library school and in my opinion, that greatly reduces the number of well-qualified applicants. I have tried to talk with coworkers and managers about that, but there’s only so much I can do when I am not the manager.

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 if there are any upcoming projects/programs/initiatives that were not in the job description but that this person would be responsible for or expected to be a part of.

Ask me what are the challenges working in this department and this library.

Ask me what advice I would give to the person coming in to this position.

Ask why this current position is vacant.

Ask about management styles.

Ask about the culture of our department. Is it more team-based or individual-based?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Texas 😛

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Public, Suburban area, Urban area

If your cover letter sucks, I’m not putting more energy into your application.

Montford Point Marines Training. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Cataloging and metadata librarian

Titles hired include: Acquisitions associate, Collections Maintenance Supervisor

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR 

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References 

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews 

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

I have served on three search/hiring committees since coming to my university. Committees are members of the department in which the hire will work, plus a library HR rep, and usually one (but sometimes more) person outside of the department that the hire will be a part of. The committee does the bulk of the work. Supervisors get a chance to meet candidates, typically in a second interview, but cannot give input on the process. The committee makes their recommendations to the provost, and ultimately the provost decides from the candidates put forth by the hiring committee. 

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

They tailored their cover letter to the position. Cover letter, CV, written follow up question responses were all clear and highly organized. They used these opportunities to showcase their written communication skills. They were professional and open in interviews. They tailored their responses to the position, even if their background didn’t align with the duties of the role they’re applying for. They showed enthusiasm about taking on a new role. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lack of clear written communication. If your cover letter sucks, I’m not putting more energy into your application. If your written question responses haven’t been edited. Not following basic instructions in the preliminary parts of the application process, even before the interview.  

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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?

I’ve found people who are too casual are usually not taken seriously. I think this is a more common mistake in the era of zoom interviews (during the pandemic).

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

Yes. Treat it the same as you would an in-person interview. It’s not an excuse to be casual. 

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 has happened a lot and I like hiring candidates with different backgrounds! Make sure you find a way to connect your past experience to the job you’re applying for, even if they aren’t similar. There must be some similar aspects or strengths you can carry from your previous work. 

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?

Hiring at my organization is completely blind until the interview stage. We also take a diversity, equity and inclusion course, as well as a course on examining our personal biases before we can join a hiring committee. 

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 when candidates ask about the organization as a whole, and also when they ask about how we see the position evolving over time. 

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?

√ 51-100 

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

Apply to things even if you don’t meet all the requirements! As long as you can draw meaningful connections between your past experiences and the job you’re applying for! 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Suburban area, Urban area

Engaging effectively via online video conference is a good way to demonstrate online teaching approaches.

Kathleen Campbell. [University librarian, Montana State University Library]. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Manager

Titles hired include: Liaison Librarian

Learning Advisor

Coordinator, Evidence Based Practice

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application 

√ Resume 

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Written applications from applicants with a statement of claim in response to selection criteria.

Panel of 3-4 including supervisor of role, mix of gender, academic, other library staff reviews written applications and shortlists for interviews. 

The panel interviews candidates and then sorts in order of who closest meets the selection criteria in response to interview questions. 

Referee checks conducted for the preferred candidate. 

If the panel is happy with the reference checks, an offer is made. 

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

Genuine and authentic, confident and well presented through the online interview. Showed high levels of competence in using digital technologies to communicate. Use of varied and detailed examples to supplement responses to interview questions. Demonstrated ability to develop and maintain partnerships, collaborative approaches to work, ability to lead from any position, work independently, manage conflict. Commitment to professional development. Use of a range of strategies for engaging in and contributing to the wider profession. Interest in research and scholarship. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Preference to work solely on campus or face-to-face. 

Lack of demonstrated digital literacy skills

Lack of ability to use professional judgment or work independently 

Lack of interest in working collaboratively 

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

Reports of candidates’ performance apart from nominated referees

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this Only One! 

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

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

Engaging effectively via online video conference is a good way to demonstrate online teaching approaches. 

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?

Experience in other professions can be relevant in terms of transferable skills, such as developing relationships, critical thinking, teamwork skills, excellent interpersonal skills, high quality verbal and written communication skills, project management skills, stakeholder management skills, digital technologies skills for communication and content creation, leadership and mentoring qualities. 

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?

Mix of gender in recruitment panel

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 in this role? What would success look like in the first 100 days? 

What professional development opportunities are available for staff?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Australia/New Zealand 

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?

√ 51-100 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Academic, Australia/New Zealand, Rural area

I haven’t had to fill an opening in 5 years so it is hard to recall details

Marilla Waite Freeman. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Head of Borrower Services 

Titles hired include: Library Associate, library assistant, shelver

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ References

√ 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:

Within my department: 

1 post opening

2 phone interview top applicants

3 schedule in person interview with myself and one of my FTE

4 written quiz to test knowledge of dewey decimal and other related skills

5 contact references 

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

I haven’t had to fill an opening in 5 years so it is hard to recall details.  She is still with us, and an excellent employee.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Short one word answers.

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

How well they can problem solve without being micromanaged.

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: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Short answers. This should be a conversation, not a Q&A quiz.

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

No.

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

Customer service relevant.  I’m looking for candidates who can manage the stress of working with the public.  

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?

I’m not sure.

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

Something that shows an interest in the organization, staff they’d be working with,  details of the job, etc. Asking no questions is a red flag.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Suburban area

No background checks provided by our HR, so we’re in the dark when it comes to criminal history.

Adam Hunter, Chief Librarian from 1904 to 1921, and women at the laying of the cornerstone for the new public library on Main Street West. August 1, 1911. By Flickr user Local History & Archives Hamilton Public Library

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Maker Librarian (supervisor for library makerspace)

Titles hired include: Library Assistants (“Makers-in-Residence”)

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application 

√ Resume 

√ Other: proof of degree for management-level positions

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Applications are submitted online, admin sends applicants to hiring supervisors, supervisors (such as myself) review the applications/resumes/references and make hiring decisions, then send decision to admin and HR for finalizing process.

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

Well-rounded skillset, confidence in answering questions, asking informed questions before/during the interview, displaying knowledge of good customer service practices.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lack of basic tech knowledge/skills. Applying for a position advertised as a specific shift, and asking to drastically change that shift’s schedule. Bringing up political/religious affiliations without appropriate context.

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

No background checks provided by our HR, so we’re in the dark when it comes to criminal history.

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: √ Only One!  

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

Regardless of which department they are applying for, I have a lot of interviewees spend the majority of their interview talking about their love of books and book-based programming. Obviously books are important, but working in a library is about so much more – I want to know what other services/resources our library provides that the interviewee is already aware of, and how they would help expand or supplement what we offer.

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

Virtual interviews are almost non-existent here; we conduct in-person interviews wherever possible, unless a candidate seems like they’d be a strong enough choice to warrant a phone interview.

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?

To me, the best person for the job is someone with a robust understanding of good customer service, is capable of working independently, has a love of learning and a willingness to try new things, and is up-to-date in their knowledge of computer/device usage and research skills.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Other: Most of the population lives in one city, where our library is located, but there are numerous nearby rural towns that depend on the city for its resources.

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Public, Southwestern US

I don’t think job hunters need to do anything extra.

Interior of the Chatham Square Branch of the New York Public Library. NYPL Digital Collections.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Director of Discovery and Delivery

Titles hired include: Software engineer, ILS Service Manager, Data Analyst, Systems Analyst, Director of Collections, Finance Manager

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 

√ 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:

Very bureaucratic process involving the library division and hiring manager, our HR liaison, and multiple people in HR reviewing, vetting, and pushing the process forward (e.g. only they can post the position on certain hiring sites, writing an offer letter, etc.). Internally, we typically phone screen applicants first, then do two rounds of interviews.

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

She had all the experience we requested, even everything marked “preferred.” She was easy going in the interview and asked excellent questions of us.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Unable/unwilling to work on a PST standard workday timetable. Also, extreme ego/cockiness–will not mesh well with the team.

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

Their ability to work in an ongoing, stable team environment.

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?

They don’t take the opportunity at the end of the interview to ask us questions.

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

We do. I don’t think of it as that different. I don’t think job hunters need to do anything extra.

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?

Pull what you’ve done that is connected, even slightly, to the new institution’s mission and goals.

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 done blind hiring (everything redacted) until the final interviews. We are encouraged to take diversity into consideration in our hiring decisions. I think people still consider candidates for “fit” which is biased in its very nature. 

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

They should know the org structure, mission and vision, the work being done by the team they’re going to be working with.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: We’re a digital library so we cover all the UCs in the state of California, so many different environments.

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Always 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100  

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Academic, Western US

highlight previous customer service experience and really sell what you are going to bring to the library that they may not already have.

Ottendorfer, Librarian standing at desk, NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Librarian II

Titles hired include: Library Technician, Library Assistant, Librarian 

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

√ 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:

We post the position for 2 weeks, review the applications, interview 3-6 candidates,  make the offer, send information to HR for background check, set start date, and let other candidates know the choose someone else. As a hiring manager, I do everything but the steps that HR completes.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Candidates that don’t have conflict management skills. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Only One! 

CV: √ Only One! 

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

Answering that they like quiet places and to read. That’s great but we do so much more than that. Make sure to really look at the library’s website and social media.

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

We have conducted virtual interviews in the past but are now back to in-person.

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

Make sure to highlight previous customer service experience and really sell what you are going to bring to the library that they may not already have. 

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 multiple people choose the candidates 

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

What duties are specific to this position? (We have the same job description for everyone with that title.) What will the first 6 months in this position look like?

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?

√ 51-100 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Public, Southwestern US, Suburban area

Don’t expect the search committee members to carry the conversation.

LIBRARIANS WITH TERMINALS OF THE LOCKHEED DIALOG – NASA / RECON – DOE RECON USERS. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Head of Research

Titles hired include: Research librarian; oral historian; circulation assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: The Dean makes the final decision but the search committee provides a report and everyone in the library provides feedback.

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

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ 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? 

√ No 

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

For faculty: served on search committee (SC), often chairing it.  SC evaluates all candidates’ materials using a rubric developed from the job ad. Top scores are invited for Zoom interviews. Three are invited for on-campus interviews. All day interview includes dinner the night before, presentation to the entire library, meetings with the supervisor, home department, and a community member related to the candidate’s interest (this is for the candidate’s benefit and not shared with the hiring committee). References checked. Dean consults with SC, reviews feedback from others in the library, and makes an offer.

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

Made it very clear why they wanted *this job* at *this university*.  

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Rudeness to the administrative assistant who coordinates the search.  Generic cover letters which do not address the job ad, or spend a lot of time talking about items not related to the job description/ad. (Example: “I’m applying for the reference librarian position. Here’s why I love archives with much details)

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

Can’t think of anything

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?

For in-person: be ready to make lots of small talk. Don’t expect the search committee members to carry the conversation.

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

Yes.  Test your setting to make sure the lighting is adequate, that your background is not distracting, that your Internet connection is strong and reliable, and that you  audio is clear.

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?

Write a compelling cover letter that explains how the experience transfers to the needed job skills.  One of the best letters I read was from someone who explained how bartending prepared them to work a public service desk.

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?

Everyone has to complete online training; we follow ‘best practices’ in the literature including having a sensitivity audit of job ad wording, using a rubric and common questions, giving questions in advance to candidates. Our uni is currently employing a search advocate firm which is intended to help us improve further.

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

Interviewing goes both ways, so candidates should think about what their priorities are in a workplace. Flexible schedule? Ability to choose your own projects? Support for professional development?  

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?

√ 51-100 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Academic, Southeastern US, Suburban area

it’s hard to tell who really even would accept the job if offered.

Nella Larsen and others. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: All of them

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Direct supervisors get the applications from my office, interview 3-5 candidates, decide who their top candidate is, contact references, reach out to the applicant to confirm they’re still interested, then notify my office to start the (cumbersome) new hire approval process.

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

Genuine enthusiasm

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not getting the name of the library right on your application materials, badmouthing prior libraries (even if they deserve it, you can talk about that later)

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

How much they actually want to work here. So many are just shotgunning resumes out to every library job, it’s hard to tell who really even would accept the job if offered.

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 bringing anything to write with/on. 

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

Sometimes; we don’t have a travel budget to reimburse interviewees, so out-of-state applicants we will interview virtually. It’s harder to make a strong impression via zoom/Skype, though

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 have the credentials, don’t apologize or be defensive. Just explain why it’s relevant. Bad library experience can be way worse than good non-library experience

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?

Probably not enough. Unofficially, we get so few minority candidates that most of them will get an interview.

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

Whether the role is new or replacing someone, and what processes led to whichever outcome. If new, what’s our vision for it. If replacing someone, do we want a change or more of the same from the role.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100

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, 50-100 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Rural area, Suburban area