Category Archives: 100-200 staff members

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

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Manager

Titles hired include: Public Services Assistant, Youth Services Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

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

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this 

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

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

Nothing, as far as I know. 

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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

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

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Branch Manager

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Written Exam

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Not sure

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

Receive and review applications, conduct interview and make selection.

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

DOB

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more 

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Disinterest.

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

This year alone we have conducted virtual interviews.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

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

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

Dress code and possibilities for promotion.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual? 

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

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

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

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

Title: Processing Archivist

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise)

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

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

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

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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

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

Not thinking about EDI even though it is in the job description. (Or having too narrow a view of diversity)

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

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

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

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

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

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

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

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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

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

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

Not researching the library/university. We put all our strategic plans, mission, values, online. Read them!  

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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

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

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

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

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Branch Manager

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise)

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

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

√ Online application

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US  

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Only remote for most meetings and interviews

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not try commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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

Search committee reviews all applicants using a matrix

Three tables each with people studying special collections
Image: Researchers at MSU Special Collections Library via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Head of Special Collections

Titles hired include: University archivist, archivist, processing archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: Search committee makes recommendation to dean

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Search committee reviews all applicants using a matrix, selects first round phone interviews (8-10 people usually), selects 2-3 people for on campus interview (full day), makes hiring recommendation to dean

 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 doing any research on the hiring institution, not having any questions for interviewers

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?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

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

I’ve had very good correlation between successful hires and composers of excellent cover letters

Black and white photo librarian sits at desk in an alcove under a vine, woman stands speaking to her
Image: Great Kills, Librarian and patron at desk From The New York Public Library

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Branch Manager

Titles hired: Library Assistant, Library Assistant Specialist, Youth Services Specialist, Adult Services Specialist, Branch Supervisor

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: The online application system does a very minor amount of screening, but still lets a lot of people through who don’t meet the minimum qualifications.

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

Applicants must apply online. Positions are open until filled. Interviews are scheduled after a sufficient number of promising applicants have accumulated. During COVID, Interviews were by Zoom. We are starting to move back to more in-person interviews. Interviews are with the manager (myself), the supervisor (equivalent of an asst. manager), and the HR director. The same questions are used with all interviewees for a position. Those applying for positions requiring programming are required to do a presentation. The manager makes the final selection with HR input.

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

We always ask for cover letters, but very few people actually write them. If a candidate writes a thoughtful cover letter, assuming they meet the minimum job requirements, they almost always end up at the top of my list of people to interview. I’ve had very good correlation between successful hires and composers of excellent cover letters. I’m also impressed by people who come to interviews obviously very well prepared. For example, they previously visited the library and researched our services. I had an entry level candidate who had no library experience. While interviewing, I noticed he had a notebook with the Dewey Decimal System written out in detail. He never referenced it, but I noticed his preparation and it did influence my decision to hire him.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

People who don’t use proper capitalization, punctuation or grammar in their applications. People who can’t work the required hours or meet the minimum job requirements. People who give problematic sounding reasons for leaving their previous jobs, particularly when that same reason is listed multiple times. People who are out of school, yet still have tons of job turnover (particularly yearly turnover).

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

How well they’ll work with the rest of the team. There are indicators, but in the end, its always a gamble.

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?

Revealing personal information that isn’t relevant and reflects poorly. Poorly handling questions like “What are you working to improve?”

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

More so than in the past. If you are asked to do a presentation, be prepared to screenshare. Nothing you try to hold up to the camera will look good.

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?

Give solid examples of how your current skill set relates to the position you want. If the position you’re after is a stretch, say it requires programming skills and you’ve never programmed, make it clear to me that you’ve researched the topic and learned about professional resources that will help you grow and succeed in the position. I had a para-professional who wanted to become a youth programmer. She made an effort to get involved in anything she could that was remotely youth related. She sought advice from coworkers who were programmers. She practiced doing storytimes at home and filmed herself so she could self critique. Despite limited programming experience, she was the clear choice for the job. If a candidate keeps getting shot down for promotions, they should talk to HR and get advice. If there’s a clear problem area, they need to work on it. I’ve dealt with a person who applied for tons of jobs, but interviewed terribly. The fact that they never changed their style or seemed to learn from their experiences, made me concerned about how teachable they would be if given a promotion.

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 use a numerical metric to score responses to questions. I would like to see us advertise our positions more widely.

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

Asking questions is good. It’s fine to ask about things like schedule and benefits, but also ask some thoughtful things about the job. Examples: library goals, training process, management style, etc.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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?

√ 101-200

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

I build opportunities to discuss failure into all of our interviews

Headshot of Christian Zabriskie. A kid sits on his shoulders reading a book

Christian Zabriskie is the Executive Director of the Onondaga County Public library that serves the City of Syracuse and supports 22 independent member libraries in Central NY. 

He is also the Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite which he founded with business partner Lauren Comito in 2010. He and Lauren were Library Journal’s 2020 Librarians of the Year. 

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

We use Civil Service Lists to determine reachable candidates then interview based on resume from the list of candidates we are given.

Titles hired: Director of Communication, Programming Coordinator, Director of Operations

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

We use Civil Service Lists to determine reachable candidates then interview based on resume from the list of candidates we are given.

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

They exuded energy, were confident yet self-deprecating, and had a deep knowledge in the area that they wanted to use on a larger canvas…and had good ideas for what that looks like.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Finding fault in colleagues, I build opportunities to discuss failure into all of our interviews. If the applicant cannot see themselves in a failure but pushes it off onto teammates out of the block then they are not a good fit for our organization.

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

Their emotional intelligence

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?

Oversharing and not seeing space for personal growth.

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

No, but I am not opposed to them. Do NOT judge people on their backgrounds! I run a large multi-million dollar library, my background through most of the crisis was a mess of reports, papers, printouts, and maps. If you looked at it without knowing my background or work habits then it would look like I was a disorganized hoarder.

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?

Speak to the work of the library at a level above the work they are doing now. Get past transactional definitions of the 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?

We work with the local office of diversity. We actively recruit as diverse a pool as is possible.

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 you looking for to move your organization forward? Referencing any 1-3 specific programs, locations, or collections that we have. I don’t care about the questions, I care about them doing the work to research our organization.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

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

Bring your brightest energy and passion to the interview. I look for “the bright spark”. I can train staff to do pretty much whatever they need to know to be successful but intellectual curiosity and an agile mind are the essential starting point. Probation is important, give us an idea of what it would be like to work with you not just in this moment but a decade from now.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Rural area, Suburban area, Urban area

Our process generally follows the ACRL Guidelines for Recruiting Academic Librarians

Image of Mollie Huston Lee in the stacks of the Richard B. Harrison Library, 1968
Image: Mollie Huston Lee, Richard B. Harrison Library, 1968, Flickr user North Carolina Digital Heritage Center via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for an:

√ Academic Library

Title: Associate Dean

Titles hired include: Records Manager, Clinical Librarian, STEM Librarian, Assessment & Analytics Librarian, Social Sciences Liaison, Business Liaison, Hospital Library Manager, Metadata Librarian, Technical Services Librarian, 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

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

√ Other: Meetings with non-library stakeholders

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

I serve ex-officio on all librarian search committees to oversee process integrity. Our process generally follows the ACRL Guidelines for Recruiting Academic Librarians

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

Someone who has clearly done their homework about the institution and the clarity of responses to our questions. I prefer and brief but direct response to a question than a lot of rambling. Someone who has concrete examples for each of the qualifications in the job announcement.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not meeting the minimum qualifications; a cover letter that is not written for our job and does not attempt to match experiences and background with our requirements

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

I think we do a very good job of learning about the experience and interpersonal skills of the candidates during our interview process. We spend a lot of time designing the interview experience for the purpose. A challenge sometimes for committees is figuring out how to weigh experience against someone who has strong interpersonal skills and may have the potential to be exceptional in the position. A well-prepared candidate can overcome this with having examples of how they demonstrated such things as collaboration or project management even if they don’t have much actual library or other work experience. On occasion, I have been surprised at how differently someone behaves on the job compared to how they responded during the interview, but fortunately this doesn’t often happen.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ 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?

Lack of preparation; not doing homework about the institution; vague responses to questions; bad-mouthing current employer

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

That is all we have been doing for the past few years. Candidates should prepare exactly as they would for an in-person experience. Also, make the effort to make sure the technology will work and you have a private space for the interview. I always offer to do a trial run but not many people take me up on the offer. Someone who is not prepared to share a document for example using our platform will perform less well than someone who knows how to make it work.

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 you can connect the dots between your experiences in a paraprofessional role and the requirements of the position. If your job has not allowed you to have certain experiences, e.g. project management or supervision, at least be prepared to describe best practices you have observed.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: The minimum is posted in the job ad (not a range) but is not discussed in detail until an offer is made.

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

Committee members are required to complete an implicit bias training and the university has created some best practice guidelines and oversight to ensure committee are following best practices. My role on the committee is also to help the group mitigate biases. Although each committee is constructed to have at least one member who is a person of color, the norms for the process and candidate screening are still pretty centered on whiteness and could introduce discrimination at any point. The goal at this time is awareness and mitigation.

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

About priorities for the job; how will success be measured; questions about working environment; really anything that conveys an interest in our job, not just a job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not trying commenting or sharing? Or are you somebody who hires Library, Archives or other LIS workers? Please consider giving your own opinion by filling out the survey here.

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

Candidates have more leverage now than previously

Photograph of Pack Horse Librarian Packing Saddle Bag
Image: Photograph of Pack Horse Librarian Packing Saddle Bag National Archives Catalog

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Director

Titles hired: various flavors of Archivist and Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ Other: upon the recommendation of search committee

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

For academic searches, a committee that includes peers is appointed. They oversee the search process and select finalists. Final recommendations go to the unit administrator and dean.

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

Extensive hands-on experience and practiced at interviewing. Early-career.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Rudeness. Failure to research the institution or express interest in the city.

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

N/A academic library interviews are about as in-depth as it gets. It’s up to the hiring manager and committee to ask the right questions.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more √ 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 taking the opportunity to ask questions of us. This isn’t a dealbreaker or really factors in to how I evaluate candidates, but it is a big opportunity for a candidate to learn about the organization and unearth red flags.

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

Yes. Practice basic Zoom if it isn’t a big part of your life. Switching to screenshare, looking at settings, etc. Practice interview questions with a friend or colleague so that you feel 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?

Explain why it is relevant, and describe the connections. Don’t make the interviewers do all the work. Some will have made the jump and can readily see the connections, but others won’t and you need to spell it out for them. If you have primarily worked in a para setting, don’t just describe the tasks you did, describe the broader initiative and function (context for your role) to demonstrate that you are thinking on a macro level.

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?

Anti-bias training for search committee members, preliminary discussions about interpreting criteria and how to apply it more inclusively

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

Mission, short/long term priorities, how retention is prioritized, EDI/DEI

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?

√ 101-200

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?

LIS/archives searches are still very competitive, but candidates have more leverage now than previously. Use that leverage to ask questions and to negotiate a better offer.

Author’s note: Hey, thanks for reading! If you like reading, why not trying 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 100-200 staff members, Academic, Archives, Midwestern US, Urban area