Category Archives: 10-50 staff members

Some of the best people I’ve hired had odd skills that weren’t “official” library duties, but they demonstrated qualities that I wanted in an employee. 

Sophie Smith is the Assistant Director of York Public Library in York, Maine. While attaining her MLS from Simmons College, she worked as a library assistant at the Cambridge (MA) Public Library. Professionally, she has worked at the Nashua (NH) Public Library as a reference librarian and then supervisor of teen services, and as an assistant branch manager at the San Antonio (TX) Public Library. After missing family, fall, and the ocean, she returned to Maine and couldn’t be happier to now be working in Maine. She loves to travel, read, and enjoy nature.

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

We solicit applications by email, sort into groups of “meet all requirements,” “don’t meet all requirements but have transferable skills or knowledge to support job requirements,” and “do not meet requirements and have no demonstrated relatable skills”. Depending on the number of applicants, we interview everyone in the first set, and generally many of the second as well. For part-time positions we do one round of interviews, for full-time positions we generally have two rounds–one with the hiring manager and a member of the department (may be a senior person, may be a junior person), and a second round with the direct supervisor and the director. We then discuss candidates, check references, offer the job, and then contact everyone who applied. 

Titles hired include: Head of Youth Services, Library Assistant, Young Adult Librarian, Reference Librarian, Library Clerk

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ 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?

They took time to do research on our library and asked good questions. They were thoughtful.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

People who call constantly about a job. Cover letters that include inaccurate information (incorrect name of the library, for example). People who are unapologetically rude.

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

Their sense of humor. How they collaborate in practice. 

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: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

Not taking a minute if they need it to answer a question. It’s perfectly fine to ask for a moment to come up with a good example! 

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

We have done virtual interviews in the past, in part due to COVID and in part due to candidates who were at a far distance. It is important to be in a space with good lighting that makes you comfortable. 

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 about the duties listed in the job and clarify for yourself how your skills are transferable. Acknowledge the difference, show that you’ve really considered it, and convince me it is applicable. Some of the best people I’ve hired had odd skills that weren’t “official” library duties, but they demonstrated qualities that I wanted in an employee. 

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 post our job broadly, offer a competitive salary, and evaluate all candidates objectively before bringing them in to interview. I am sure there is more we can do. 

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 candidates who ask about the day-to-day culture of the library and about my experience working here. It gives an opportunity to share some of the informal aspects of the job and let the candidate assess how it would work for them. Thoughtful questions that make it clear the person has looked into what we do already and wants to know more! 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: occasionally, as needed and approved by supervisor

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

I have used this resource as a job seeker and as an employer and find it to be an incredibly valuable tool. Thank you for making it!

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, 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Suburban area

Smoking while with members of the search committee

A man in a cap browses a colorful book shelf
Image: Tommy T. Gobena visiting Dilla University library. From UNICEF Ethiopia on Flickr via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for an:

√ Academic Library

Title: Head of Content Curation

Titles hired: Library Director; Head of Research Services; Electronic Resources & Serials Librarian; Discovery & Systems Administrator, etc.

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)

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

√ Online application

√ 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:

As a supervisor, I generally chair the search committee for positions within my own department; and serve on other search committees as well.

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

They modeled kindness, respect, and diplomacy in their interactions.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Disrespect; talking over everyone else at a meal and not letting the search committee members get a word in edgewise; smoking while with members of the search committee.

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

How well they get along with people in the workplace from day to day, not only in terms of respect, but also in terms of how they might continually burden others with their own anxieties.

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?

Trying to perform, even while in casual conversation, instead of communicating like an authentic human being.

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

Yes. They should be familiar with virtual presentation software and how to best situate their camera, lighting, etc., as well as having a strong connection (dialing in by phone for audio, for example, if their home network has bandwidth issues).

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?

Show that they’ve done their homework in researching the new library. Demonstrate that they understand the responsibilities, the environment, and the people, and what attracts them to this new 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?

We have required online training in anti-bias hiring techniques from HR.

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

Ask us what we find fulfilling for ourselves here, and what we hope to see from the new person in this role in the short term. They should be familiar with our library’s mission, and our institution’s mission and values. And they should know the responsibilities and the organizational structure as described in the position ad.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

Is there anything else you’d like to say, either to job hunters or to me, the survey author? Or are there any questions you think we should add?

Our main challenge for the past 2 years has been getting approval to post positions. Like many other libraries, we are short-staffed due to normal attrition and not being permitted to hire replacements. The resulting double/triple workloads cause ripple effects, with the remaining people seeking other jobs due to burnout and little hope for improvement; thus exacerbating the situation. This is not limited to libraries; it’s pervasive across academia lately.

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southeastern US, Suburban area

Most people have not heard of us before applying with us

A group of four white people are having a discussion in front of book shelves. One man looks bemused.
Image: Special Collections Tour with Dr. and Mrs. Arnfield From Flickr user Topeka Library

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for:

√ Special Library

√ Other: government library

Title: Librarian

Titles hired include: library technicians & librarians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ 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

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ 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:

HR pre-screens initial applicants. Those deemed qualified are passed to the hiring panel (where I would be), who assess & invite ~4 candidates for interviews. References are checked and the hiring manager makes the final selection based on all the information gathered. The selection is passed back to HR, who extend the offer. 

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

Part of it was out of their control by the time they got to the interview: they had experience working with a niche type of materials our library offers. Part of it was in their control: They expressed a genuine interest in us and made the interview a conversation with give & take on both sides, both revealing the breadth & depth of their experience and knowledge and giving a small insight into what they would be like as a colleague. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Revealing they over-stretched the truth of their experience & expertise on their resume

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

It’s almost impossible to assess how they’ll *really* work on a team or on complicated projects, because that’s just not testable in the average library hiring process, and self-assessment isn’t always reliable. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only one! 

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

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

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

Not displaying any curiosity about your potential new workplace. Especially in government hiring the questions we are allowed to ask are often formulaic and can’t be personalized for each candidate. Ask us follow up questions if you think of them. When we hand the floor over to candidates for their questions, that’s the time to really dive in and get a conversation out of us. Put together thoughtful questions about the organization – ask us about upcoming projects, recent challenges, jot notes about what we mention during the questions and ask us to expand, etc. This is another way of expressing enthusiasm about the position and getting to know the people you might be working with (and vice versa) that a surprising number of candidates forgo entirely. 

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

We do. My advice: Don’t overthink it, and keep it simple. You don’t need to stare into the camera the entire time or try to make it look like you don’t live in a house. Make sure your audio & camera (if relevant) are working, have a non-distracting (decently clean, no TV blaring, etc) background, & smile. Not that different than an in person interview really.  

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?

Take a copy of the job description you’re interested in. Highlight in one color everything you have experience in, or transferable experience in, and make notes on what that experience is to make sure it’s mentioned somewhere in your resume or cover letter. Make it really easy on the committee to see your qualifications. Highlight in another color everything you don’t have experience in, and do some research, even if it’s just passively watching a webinar. Hiring managers want to know that A) you can already do something, or B) you wouldn’t be difficult to train. Saying in an interview “I’ve never done X, but I’ve watched a webinar and worked on a committee with people who did, and I see (fill in the blank of) these parallels to Y, which I’m very experienced in” goes a long way. And it’s a step further than the majority of candidates go, which will make you stand out. It is more work, yes, but if you’re stretching for a job that’s not a clear cut match for you, I strongly recommend it. Doing this is what helped me make multiple big jumps across very different types of library work in my career. 

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?

Every time a position is filled, there is a meeting to determine A) if the position really needs a masters B) how to advertise it as broadly as possible, with emphasis on under-targeted populations. If I had the power to do so I would love to see the additional step of blind reviewing materials to reduce potential name and gender bias. Appearance bias is hard to avoid with in-person or video interviews, but we try to select diverse panels and offer pre-hiring anti-bias training that helps the panel identify internalized biases as well. 

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

Most people have not heard of us before applying with us. We know that so don’t be afraid to admit it. Ask us a lot of questions about our structure, our history, our challenges, our successes, our goals, our work culture. Really dig in. As I mentioned before, what we can ask you is often structured and limited. Your questions are your time to get all the information you need, information we will happily give even if government hiring isn’t easily structured to let us offer it outright.  

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?

√ 11-50

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Special, Urban area

Currently, we’re over 300% turnover since 2016 and cannot attract candidates.

A white woman sits at a desk covered in books, using a typewriter
Image: Anita Ozols works at typewriter in Chubb Library Cataloging Department, shortly before move to the new Alden Library by Ohio University Libraries on Flickr

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

Title: Head of Cataloging

Titles hired: Reference Librarian, acquisitions, circulation

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

It’s a disaster. A committee makes and recommendation and the director ignores it.

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

Currently, we’re over 300% turnover since 2016 and cannot attract candidates.

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

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

we have for COVID but are starting to perform on campus 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?

technical skills

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 have a DEI statement that is ignored

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

What happened to the the last three people that had this job?

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?

√ 11-50

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Southwestern US, Urban area

Ask about a typical day, ask what opportunities exist for advancement

Ryan McCrory is a historian of European Intellectual History with over 20 years of library experience in academic and public libraries, as far-flung as the University of Washington Libraries, Seattle Public Library, and Lititz Public Library.  

He is active in a variety of library organizations, and also serves on the Board of Directors of Hosting Solutions and Library Consulting.

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

Post job ad, receive and read applications, contact prospective candidates for interviews, interview and evaluate, make job offer. I do or assign each of these steps.

Titles hired include: Circulation Supervisor, Circulation Clerk, Maintenance

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: Executive Director

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Clearly articulated why they were interested in this particular job and had a clear understanding of what the job actually was.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No

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

Does their work match their words

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?

Try to say what they think is wanted, instead of just speaking honestly.

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

We could, but we haven’t had the need. Make sure they test out the audio before the interview. If I can’t hear them effectively, I’m not going to remain engaged well enough to give them a proper 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?

Make me understand that they have people skills, can work with many types of people, are adaptable when necessary, and can think on their feet effectively.

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 in a pretty homogenous area, so we don’t attract a lot of diversity. I think even prospective employees would have a hard time seeing themselves as working for us – we probably don’t appear as inclusive as we are. I don’t have an easy answer to fix that, but do try and make sure that our programming and collections give the sense that we are open to all.

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

Ask about a typical day, ask what opportunities exist for advancement. Ask how we would view someone not looking for advancement. Ask questions that would let them know what they are in for.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Not really. There may be occasions for it, but very few

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Rural area, Suburban area

The most common mistake the hiring body makes is not sending the questions for a phone interview in advance

Larry Eames (he/him/his) is an Instruction Librarian based in Colorado Springs. 

He is a chronic search committee member and a part of the CU system Search Advocate Program which aims to reduce bias in the hiring process and enhance equity and diversity in hiring practices. He tweets @liblarrian.

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

A search committee is convened after the job description has been written by the supervisor of the position in question. In this meeting the dean (hiring authority) and the supervisor of the position lay out their expectations for the process. The job is then posted for 5-6 weeks before the priority deadline. The chair of the search committee is let into the HR system to be able to answer questions candidates may have about their applications throughout the process but the rest of the committee is only let into the talent acquisition portal after the priority deadline. Ideally every committee member reviews all applications, but if there are too many the chair will segment the applications so at least two people review each. Based on a rubric in which the candidates are rated y/n on the minimum qualifications and on a 1-5 scale for the preferred qualifications 10 or so candidates are selected for a “phone screener.” This is actually over Teams or HireVue. Based on those interviews, the committee convenes again to choose 3-4 people to invite to campus for in-person interviews. These usually go for about a day and include meetings with the department the position is in, the dean, other relevant stakeholders, and a job talk. The committee convenes after these on-campus interviews to rank the finalists and deliver pros and cons for each to the dean who makes the final hiring decision. I have been a search committee member in this process and am currently a search committee chair.

Titles hired: Electronic Resources Acquisitions Professional, Associate Dean, Online Learning Librarian, Instructional Assessment Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Other: EDI statement, portfolio if relevant

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

They told their story really well in their cover letter. They addressed each element of the required and preferred qualifications clearly so we didn’t have to read between the lines and they narrated their experience rather than regurgitating their cv.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not respecting patron privacy/generally not adhering to professional ethics.

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

n/a

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?

I think the most common mistake the hiring body makes is not sending the questions for a phone interview in advance. I think the mistake that candidates make most frequently is not pausing to consider their answers when they need to. It’s 100% ok to say “I need a moment to think about that” and then answer and to ask any clarifying, follow up questions.

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

We conduct virtual first round interviews. I don’t think I have anything to add beyond basic advice: watch your lighting (it’s good to be able to see your whole face and not have any campfire shadows) and sit comfortably. Sitting comfortably will help you present your best self.

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 clear statements about how your paraprofessional, non-volunteer, and non-library work reflects the qualifications listed in the job description. Don’t make reviewers read between the lines.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

Colorado requires salary transparency by state law.

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

We use a rubric to ensure we are all using the same language and standards to evaluate candidates. We also explicitly discuss common ways for bias to enter the hiring conversation like “cultural fit.” In the search committee I’m currently chairing, we’ll be introducing a new, uniform mechanism for gathering feedback from non-committee members during the on-campus interview.

In my experience, we do a good job of mitigating bias, but there are still structural issues and I think I would have to have a fully external perspective to identify all of them. In the search I’m currently involved in I was able to eliminate most of the physical requirements listed in the job description but unfortunately couldn’t fully eliminate the category. As this is my first time chairing, something I’m being especially proactive about looking for are ways we might make assumptions about candidate needs especially around accessibility.  

At the system level, I went through training to join the Search Advocate Program which aims to enhance equity and inclusion in the search process. This is still a nascent program for us so I have yet to see how that will be put into practice on my campus, but I gather that the intention at the very least is to have a trained search advocate on every search committee to promote better, more inclusive, less biased searches.

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

What was the most controversial thing to happen on campus or in the community recently? What is your organization’s strategy for retaining diverse talent? How did this position come open?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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, 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southwestern US, Suburban area

You’d be surprised at how many candidates arrive for an on-site interview underprepared

John is currently the Head of Information Technology and Collections at Coastal Carolina University.  He has worked in academic library technology for over 30 years and is a former patent holder and co-founder of Journal Finder, the first OpenURL Resolver and knowledge base to go into production in the United States.  

Throughout his career, John has focused on identifying and implementing innovative uses of technology in the provision of library services, online user privacy protection, and improving the user experience for accessing online resources.  He is an active member of the Coalition for Seamless Access.

You may remember his answers to the survey What Should Candidates Learn in Library School and to the Further Questions feature. I appreciate his contributions!

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

We post the job ad, the committee reviews applicants and conducts on-site interviews.  We then make a final recommendation to the University Librarian, who then approves (typically pro forma).  If the position is in my department, I typically serve as the Chair of the Search Committee, but I sometimes serve as a search committee member on other searches.  

Titles hired include: Collection Strategies Librarian, Electronic Resources Librarian, Library Systems Administrator, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Web Development and Emerging Technologies Librarian, Head of Collection Management, etc.

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

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ A whole day of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Yes but only for yes/no minimum requirement questions; e.g., “do you have an MLIS,” or “do you have two years experience.  We don’t use this for other questions to avoid having qualified candidates unknowingly excluded from our applicant pool due to a wrong answer or system error.  

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

They obviously knew their stuff and didn’t inflate their knowledge and experience. As importantly, they were able to communicate this in a way that was specific to the position for which they were applying.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Doesn’t meet minimum requirements or has obviously written a boilerplate cover letter.  [Note:  any librarian with search committee experience can easily identify a generic cover letter that has obviously been written and submitted for numerous positions.  If an applicant doesn’t have the time to write a letter that speaks to their experience and knowledge for the advertised job and how the library would benefit from hiring them, then the search committee certainly isn’t interested in considering the application.  

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

How they’ll interact with their colleagues after 6-12 months on the job – after the honeymoon period is over.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this

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

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

Overstating their knowledge or experience in their application package that they clearly can’t support in the phone or on-site interview. Also, you’d be surprised at how many candidates arrive for an on-site interview underprepared, have a negative attitude, and complain about their current place of employment and the people with whom they work.  Projecting a positive, solutions-based attitude goes a long way in impressing potential employers. 

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

Yes. I’d recommend dressing as if you were on-campus interviewing, and be just as animated and engaging. Virtual interviewees sometimes show up overly comfortable or just flat/disinterested.

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?

For all candidates, take any knowledge and experience you’ve  learned along the way and translate its appropriateness to the job for which you’re applying in the cover letter. Simply listing a list of jobs you’ve held (in or outside the industry) w/o articulating how it speaks to the current position is of little benefit to the candidate.  For paraprofessionals, it’s important to get as much experience in as many operational areas of the library as possible.  Opportunities typically abound in their current places of employment to allow them to volunteer for time-limited projects in other departments, or to sit at the reference desk or teach one-shot library instruction classes.  Not only will that enhance one’s knowledge, but this strongly indicates a person who is motivated, takes initiative, and is willing to get outside of their comfort zone to make themselves a well-rounded librarian with a broad, marketable skill set.  

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?

DEI and EEO training.

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

Take the time to read a library’s strategic plan/mission statement, observe what library systems and platforms are in production, and what major initiatives are being undertaken.  This will enable the candidate to ask more intelligent, relevant questions about the job/library/university, and lets the search committee know that they took the time to prepare for the interview.  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southeastern US, Suburban area

Sometimes I fear they don’t know where we are located

Image: Bibliotecárias_nas_Biblioteca_Popular_de_Botafogo,_Rio_de_Janeiro,_1957 via Wikimedia Commons

This interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Assistant library director

Titles hired include:

Librarian. Library supervisors. Library aides. Library generalist. Lots of stuff.

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: Supervisor recommends, director has final approval.

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

√ Online application

√ 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:

Review job post and supplemental questions to make sure we are presenting job well/getting info we need. Post/promote. Review applications. Phone screen top 5-10. Interview with 2 people 3-5. Final interview with director, more casual meeting with more stuff 1 or maybe 2. Call references. Sent to HR for hire, background check, etc.

What are your instant dealbreakers?

1) Incomplete application. Blow off online application and say stuff like “see resume”.

2) Lots of errors. I once had a candidate spell their own name wrong (multiple spellings of their name in application process)

3) Application and resume don’t match. Say you have 5+ years of customer service, doesn’t translate to anything you listed.

4) People who say stuff like “I want to work in a quiet and calm library because I love to read.”

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

If you live far away, acknowledge that and say, “I want to relocate.” Sometimes I fear they don’t know where we are located. Or they just want any job, not this job. Or not this location. Do you WANT to live in this state?? Do you understand the cost of living here? Does this region of the country interest you? Why are you even applying?

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?

They don’t come with questions for us. They haven’t even looked at our website to find out about us. Challenge me- ask why I like working here. Ask how we responded to COVID. Ask about our new building project. Ask about something that relates to the job. Ask to see your future work space. Ask me something!

Talking super negative about former employers. Think ahead about how you want to frame stuff. You know there will be some kind of questions that touches on your past work. If you don’t want to work for “a jerk”, try to ask questions that get to what matters to you. Ask what they do to try and help employees succeed. Ask what they do if an employee is struggling. Ask how they respect work /life balance. Interviewing is like dating. You don’t want to marry the wrong person as much as they don’t want to marry the wrong person.

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

We did for sure during COVID. And will for distance candidates for first round of interviews. They should still put in effort. Don’t wear a baseball cap and T-shirt (real example). I know it is not ideal or fair, but try to get a neutral background. Seeing a closed door right behind you is better than a messy kitchen. If we want a second interview we expect you to come in person. And I expect that you will be able to make an in person interview happen within a 2 week(ish) period. (See long distance applications issues above)

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?

Work on tech skills. You don’t have to have a degree. You can learn excel from online stuff. Customer service experience is highly valued. If you have worked waiting tables you for sure can deal with someone fighting about a $0.10 fine. Don’t be afraid to lean in on those past experiences. I value those experiences. So should 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?

Working on this. Have really been pushing staff about how they view (for example) education. If job calls for high school diploma or equivalent- that is either met or not met. You don’t get “extra points” for a college degree or masters. Very much trying to figure out how to get our job ads out to our diverse community. Would love article about this!

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

I address this above.

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?

√ 11-50

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

If no one is calling you, your application is probably boring or generic. You can set yourself apart by valuing your past experience and bragging on it. The only person who is there to tell me how awesome you are is YOU! You didn’t work as a waiter from 2015-2019 at Denny’s. You worked in the 15th busiest Denny’s in the state. You were promoted to shift manager. You talked your boss into getting a second soda machine. You regularly juggled up to 8 tables. You have a customer satisfaction rating of 4.4, which was the highest at that branch. Tell me how awesome you are!!

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Public, Suburban area

What do you expect from an organization that hires you?

Jimmie Epling is a native of Eastern Kentucky with 40 years of experience in Kentucky, Ohio, and South Carolina public libraries. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education in History and Economics from the University of Kentucky and a Master’s degree in Library Science from the University of South Carolina. 

Currently, he is in his tenth year as the Director of the Darlington County (SC) Public Library and serves as an officer in the South Carolina Library Association (SCLA). 

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

Facilitator/moderator. Review applications, selection of candidates, in-person interview, task portion of the interview (if required), review of interviews, call references (if required). 

Titles hired: Youth services librarian, circulation clerk, reference assistant, branch manager

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization: 

√ A Committee or panel, with the final approval of the Director 

Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates? √ Online application 

√ References 

√ In-person, structured interview 

√ Demonstration/task (teaching, storytime, etc) 

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? 

Formal training and experience related to the job on paper. Passion, articulation of ideas, and examples of work offered during the in-person interview. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers? 

No 

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

The candidate’s true personality and work ethic. 

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? 

Indecisiveness. Reflection before answering (for a moment) is acceptable. Lack of a strong, well conceived, or decisive answer. 

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

Appearance counts. This includes the background and setting. Also, extraneous noises or interruptions can be a problem. 

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? 

Decisiveness in their answer. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information? 

√ It’s in the job posting and 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? 

We standardize questions. The information collected for Federal statistical purposes is not shared with the interview panel. An upfront acknowledgement and commitment to diversity by the interviewers. 

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

If the candidate doesn’t ask, we ask “what do you expect from an organization that hires you?”

Additional Demographics 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like? 

√ Suburban 

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual? 

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization? 

√ 11-50 

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Public, Rural area, Southeastern US, Suburban area

Ability to get along with coworkers

Katharine Clark is the Head of Programming and Community Engagement at Beloit Public Library and recently accepted a new position as Deputy Director of Middleton Public Library, both libraries are located in Wisconsin.

She is a leader with the Wisconsin Library Association most recently serving on their Board as Treasurer. A graduate of UW-Madison iSchool, she has been working in libraries for over twenty years.

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

We use NeoGov to screen and score applications and then interview top 3 or 4

Titles hired include: Library service specialist; youth service librarians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

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?

included a thoughtful cover letter

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

use a generic letter and forget to change library name to right one

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

reliability and job attendance record

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?

not brag about themselves enough

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

We did during COVID…dress to impress

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?

Stress ability to get along with coworkers

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?

take out names in NeoGov screening process

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 some of the challenges your organization is facing?

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?

√ 11-50

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Urban area