Category Archives: Midwestern US

I place a lot of weight on retail experience that teaches you how to think on your feet and manage difficult situations.

Amy is the Head of Adult Services for a public library serving diverse suburban and rural communities. Ordering books and managing the reference staff are probably the most visible parts of her job, but she especially enjoys mentoring future librarians and helping her library’s users navigate the complicated world of technology. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and finds that training transfers well to her work in public libraries. She lives in the Metro Detroit area with her husband, toddler son, tween stepchildren, and two very hungry cats. (Seriously. They’re starving.) 

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

We create a job posting, and distribute it through various channels: our consortium’s website, job seeking sites, Facebook, etc. If I’m the hiring manager, job applicants direct their application materials to me via email: application, resume, and cover letter. Sometimes I’m the only eyes on their materials before the interview, but if other senior staff members have time, or it’s an especially important position, I’ll ask for other opinions. I invite the candidates I feel are qualified to an interview with myself and another senior member of staff: typically a director or department head, but occasionally a senior librarian. 

Titles hired include: Librarian, Reference Assistant, Circulation Assistant

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

The last candidate to really wow me had just an incredible job history – she’d switched from archaeology to library science. She had incredible stories that highlighted relevant skills she would bring to the position. In general, that’s what I appreciate most in a good candidate: not necessarily that their stories are interesting or exciting, but that they show the candidate’s best abilities and demonstrate their mastery of the exact skills I’m asking about.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

I can’t say there’s any one thing that will always be a dealbreaker, but what comes the closest is zero work history. It’s difficult to evaluate candidates whose entire experience is either academic (as a student) or volunteer.

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

For my part-time candidates, how their availability will change after they’re hired! (Because it will! It always does!)

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?

Not giving themselves the time and space to think and answer a question fully. If I ask for an example and something doesn’t immediately spring to mind, tell me that, and ask for a minute to think. If you can come up with the example I’m looking for, I’d rather hear that after a moment’s awkward silence than have a quick, general answer that dances around the question!

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

Not typically, no.

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

When we’re hiring assistants for the public service desks – reference and circulation – it’s all about customer service! There are a wide variety of experiences that fit into that category, and I place a lot of weight on retail experience that teaches you how to think on your feet and manage difficult situations. 

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?

Unfortunately, we don’t do anything formal to reduce bias. 

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

Everyone should ask what a typical day on the job looks like. If you’re considering a position to “get your foot in the door” or gain experience for another position, you should ask 1. what the potential for promotion is and then 2. what opportunities the job provides for you to practice new skills and gain the experience you’re looking for.

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?

√ Other: 40+ 

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, Midwestern US, Public, Rural area, Suburban area

I like to hire servers and retail staff who have had a few Christmas seasons under their belt.

Portrait de François Lesure (1923-2001). Photographie anonyme, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling hiring practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.  

This person hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Branch Manager

Titles hired: Branch associates, maintenance

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Other: Director

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

√ Resume

√ References

√ Written Exam

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Phone interview after vetting paper applications, 1st interview with writing assignment, second interview.

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

we’re rural so not too much “wow”.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Forgetting their resume or asking me to print it off for them before the interview.

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

That they’d get along with the rest of my staff.

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?

Assuming they need to read a lot to work here.

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

I haven’t.

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 ask what outside skills/experience they might have to bring to the library. I like to hire servers and retail staff who have had a few Christmas seasons under their belt.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

The director is currently working on this.

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

what a day in the life of is like.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Midwestern US, Public, Rural area

I love applicants who have a strong background in customer service and can show it.

Nora Beust, from a 1925 newspaper. No photographer credited, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Please note: this is an anonymous response to an online survey; I do not have any way of contacting the respondent or verifying responses. Their answers may reflect good, bad, or middling hiring practices. I invite you to take what’s useful and leave the rest.  

This person hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Branch Manager

Titles hired: Shelver, Branch Assistant, Children’s Librarian, Assistant Manager, Floater

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

√ Resume

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Other: It depends on the position

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes

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

First we write up a justification as to why the position needs filled, then the position is posted, as applications are submitted HR pushes them through so that they are available for viewing by the manager and asst manager, we begin reviewing the applicants at this time to speed up the process. Once the position closes we narrow it down to 3-5 candidates, selecting them in the software. HR calls to setup interviews. Interviews happen with manager, asst manager, and an HR rep. We discuss the candidates after each interview and rank them using the Lever software. Candidate is chosen with a day (or two), HR writes up a hiring proposal with proposed hourly rate/salary (based on experience), calls the candidate and offers the job. Once candidate accepts the other interviewees are personally called and told that they did not receive the position.

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

I love applicants who have a strong background in customer service and can show it.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Inability to be flexible

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

Personality flaws that can be hidden, passive aggressive nature and the like

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! Two

Resume: √ Only One!

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Not taking the time to properly answer the question

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

Rarely

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

Just tell me how your current work relates to the position.

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?

Nothing that I’m aware of. It might be best to have names hidden from the application reviewers.

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

How did we handle the pandemic? How does the community support the library?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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?

√ 201+

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

Once I applied for a job and heard back about scheduling an interview 13 minutes after my initial email!

Jenna Courtade is a current MS/LIS student at the University of Illinois. 

She is looking for positions in digital imaging labs or archives as she is passionate about preserving, and making accessible, important cultural and historical material. Jenna loves spending her free time baking, working on crafts, or developing the film she uses to photograph friends. 

Your Demographics and Search Parameters

How long have you been job hunting?

√ Less than six months 

Why are you job hunting?  

√ This is the next step after finishing library/archives/other LIS graduate degree 

√ My current job is temporary 

Where do you look for open positions?  

ArchivesGig, MuseWeekly newsletter, USA Jobs, other job boards.

What position level are you looking for?  

√ Entry level

√ Requiring at least two years of experience

√ Supervisory 

What type(s) of organization are you looking in? 

√ Academic library

√ Archives 

√ Special library 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like? 

√ Rural area 

Are you willing/able to move for employment? 

√ Yes, to a specific list of places 

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

Good fit for my career goals; Good pay; location I don’t mind.

How many jobs have you applied to during your current search? (Please indicate if it’s an estimate or exact)

Approximately 35

What steps, actions, or attributes are most important for employers to take to sell you on the job?  

√ Pay well

√ Having (and describing) excellent benefits

√ Introducing me to staff 

√ Prioritizing work-life balance 

Do you expect to see the salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Yes, and it’s a red flag when it’s not 

Other than not listing a salary range, are there other “red flags” that would prevent you from applying to a job?

A job title that has a “/” or other indication that it is probably two jobs squished into one.

The Process

How much time do you spend preparing an application packet?

It depends. On a job that I am not overly interested in, maybe 30 minutes. For a job that I am really interested in, I could spend a few hours.

What are the steps you follow to prepare an application packet?

I use my standard resume/CV, then tailor my standard cover letter. I have different standard cover letters depending on the type of position. If I really like the job, I will spend a longer time to add more to the standard cover letter. I also have a portfolio of my work that I include with some applications. Finally, I have a pre-assembled list of references incase the application asks for it.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Email 

When would you like potential employers to contact you? 

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if the search is at the interview stage, even if I have not been selected

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me 

How long do you expect an organization’s application process to take, from the point you submit your documents to the point of either an offer or rejection?

I expect it to take a few months, ideally no more than 2 months.

How do you prepare for interviews?

I write myself questions based on the job requirements and qualifications. Then I practice with family and friends.

What are your most hated interview questions, and why?

What is your biggest weakness. I don’t like the negative aspect of it.

During your current search, have you had any of the following experiences:

  • Submitted an application and got no response  √ Happened the majority of the time or always 
  • Had an interview and never heard back  √ I don’t know
  • Interviewed for a job where an internal candidate was eventually chosen  √ I don’t know
  • Asked for an accommodation for a disability √ Not Applicable
  • Withdrawn an application before the offer stage √ Not Applicable
  • Turned down an offer √ Not Applicable

If you want to share a great, inspirational, funny,  horrific or other story about an experience you have had at any stage in the hiring process, please do so here:

Once I applied for a job and heard back about scheduling an interview 13 minutes after my initial email! That was so exciting.

What should employers do to make the hiring process better for job hunters?

Provide as much information on salary range as possible and always let people know if they were accepted or rejected. 

You and Your Well-Being

How are you doing, generally?

√ I’m optimistic

√ I’m maintaining 

What are your job search self-care strategies?

I have not really established any. This makes me think that maybe I should. 

Do you have any comments for Emily (the survey author) or are there any other questions you think we should add to this survey?

Thank you for putting this together!

Job Hunting Post Graduate School 

If you have an MLIS or other graduate level degree in a LIS field, what year did you graduate? (Or what year do you anticipate graduating?)

May 2023

When did you start your first job search for a “professional” position (or other position that utilized your degree)?

√ More than six months before graduating with my MLIS/other LIS degree 

In relation to your graduation, when did you find your first “professional” position?

√ Hasn’t happened yet – I’m still looking 

What kind of work was your first post-graduation professional position? 

√ N/A – hasn’t happened yet 

Did you get support from your library school for your first job hunt (and/or any subsequent ones)?

Yes, there are resources I have used and could use if I wanted.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about searching for or finding your first post-graduation position?

I think it has been useful to start early, for practice, but I think that I have not heard back from many employers since I would not be able to start until many months out. 

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Filed under 2023 Job Hunter's Survey, Academic, Archives, Midwestern US, Rural area, Special

I was a person very much in this position- the catch22 of library workers

A woman in a black dress sits on the stairs reading a book
Reader, Reading Room, Mitchell Building, State Library of New South Wales. By Flickr user State Library of New South Wales

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Director of Central Services

Titles hired include: Manager of Genealogy; Entertainment, Literature, and Biography Librarian; 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application  

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: We use ADP; I’m uncertain which of the hiring tools within it our HR department uses. 

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

Depending on the position, I might help write the job description and job ad and send it to HR to post on our library website as well as external job boards (depending on seniority of the position). We have a paper application, but I can’t remember the last time we actually had to review any of those as most people apply directly through the ADP software. Depending on the level of the position (youth services or librarian or supervisory), candidates will typically be asked to submit a cover letter and resume as well. HR reviews the applications and forwards eligible candidates and their application information back to me and the other members of the hiring panel. From there, the group of us (2 to 4 people) determine who we would most like to meet and send those names back to HR who coordinates scheduling the interviews. Each position has a certain set of predetermined questions we ask during the interview. Once the panel thinks we have a viable candidate, we submit that name to HR to make the offer which they do once they have checked references.

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

The person we recently offered a librarian position was an internal candidate who even though we all thought we knew him pretty well, had some very impressive extracurriculars listed on his resume that helped him to stand out. For example, the position maintains our library’s zine collection, and he has been working on various zine initiatives around town for several years. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

People who in the interview talk more about what the position would mean for them vs what they could bring to the position. 

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

Their enneagram number! 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more 

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

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

Not answering the questions asked. 

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

Yes. And I think we have seen a lot of great interviews in this format; the only one that felt weird was someone interviewing from their current office / library. I understand they were likely doing it during a lunch break or something, and we don’t compensate for interview time, so I get it! It just was sort of off putting. 

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 was a person very much in this position- the catch22 of library workers. My advice would be similar to the advice given to me – figure out SOME way to get library experience whether it’s volunteering or a practicum or asking a friend to allow them to job shadow. Ultimately, I’m hiring for professionalism and customer service skills, but what that means in the library setting is different.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

The overall whiteness of those with advanced degrees means we still see hiring bias when trying to fill “librarian” positions. There are fewer such positions, but it still presents a problem. Even when we list “equivalent experience” we find that people (esp those who don’t work at libraries) don’t always know what sorts of things would qualify them. 

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

How much autonomy will they have to do their job.The library is a bureaucracy, so I know it can sometimes be frustrating for folks with the levels of permission that are in place.

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?

√ 201+  

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

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

Everything we do, every step, is to create a good patron experience

	
Newspaper clipping from Thursday, April 26, 1979, from page 17 of the Whitman County Gazette, published in Colfax, Washington. The clipping shows a group photograph of librarians from the Whitman County Library, gathered for a workshop presented by consultants from the Washington State Library. Librarians present were from Albion, Colfax, Colton, Endicott, Garfield, Oakesdale, Palouse, Rosalia, Tekoa, and Uniontown. Note: names read left to right, seated subjects named first, followed by standing subjects. Names: Kuder, Martha; Clow, Margaret; Hawkins, Andrea; Jamison, Barbara; Doyle, Dorothy; Elwood, Win; Zinke, Elaine; Dahmen, Ernestine; Burkhart, Sally; Helt, Esther; Maloy, Edna; St. John, Shirley; Shoemaker, Vida; Robinson, Alice; Delzer, Mary
Whitman County Library branch librarians, Colfax, Washington, 1979. Whitman County Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Public Library Director

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

We have no HR, city application comes to me, the group interviewing reviews and we choose who to interview

Titles hired: page, clerk, children’s librarian, assistant director, programming assistant, cataloger, circ supervisor

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

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ Other: totally depends on position…

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 really wanted that position, not to work in a library, but to do the actual work and able to connect their experience even if it wasn’t obvious

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

saying you’re a detail person but fail to fill out the basic application correctly, failing to complete each portion of the application, cold call before the job closes, having been a problem patron before

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

intent

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Only One!

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

rambling answers that aren’t answers, not preparing for potential questions, knowing nothing about the library/looking at the website and social media

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

We don’t, but I’ve done them. good connection, plain background, knowing where to look

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?

Is it customer service? it applies, make sure to say that. The basic tenets of customer service apply to all library jobs, even behind the scenes – everything we do, every step, is to create a good patron experience

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

TBH we have very little diversity in our community, but we do seek diverse candidates as much as possible. We are openly working on training with all staff. Acknowledging you have bias is a huge step. systemic racism and bias permeate everything, so it exists in every context.

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

what does a typical day look like, will on-going training/CE be available, what are short term goals for the library as a whole, what challenges does the library face

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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?

we need to be better about articulating what matters – your love of fiction or belief in the mission are great, but that doesn’t mean you are able to do the work, and the steep learning curve employees can expect.

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

We wouldn’t be interviewing them if we didn’t think they could do the job.

Helsinki School of Economics, library. Photo by Flickr user Aalto University Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Supervisor: Adult & Teen Services

Titles hired include: Librarian, Library Associate 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

HR sends me and the interviewing committee (IC) all application packets. IC makes suggestions, but the decisions on who to interview ultimately rest with the department supervisor. After interviews, the interviews are scored, references are called, IC again converses about who to hire, but the decision ultimately rests with Supervisor. 

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

Their genuine enthusiasm. They asked questions about what we do and how they would fit into that. Asked if we would be open to trying new programs we haven’t tried before, and just generally were really excited about what we have to offer and how it would fit with what they have to offer. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Answering phones, interrupting, Saying they wouldn’t help find information they might find objectionable 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Only One!  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Dial back their enthusiasm

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

We aren’t currently, but we have. I think that just letting their enthusiasm shine through is so important. They have the interview because we already are convinced of their qualifications. We wouldn’t be interviewing them if we didn’t think they could do the job.  

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

Customer service, both internal and external, is the most important skill in this job. Be thoughtful about the answers to those questions. 

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?

I *think* the scoring of the interview might possibly do something for this, but I wonder if it really is biased toward folks with more privileged educational opportunities. 

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 we doing to help underserved populations in our communities? This is a thing I am always looking for. I wish they would ask what the job is like day-to-day. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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 

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, Midwestern US, Public, Suburban area

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

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

This interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Public Library Reference manager

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

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

Titles hired: Reference Associate

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Unsure

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

They had a good attitude about library service.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No customer service experience. Talking badly about underprivileged people.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Acting disinterested, not asking good questions

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

I have not

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

What are the patrons like.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100

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

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

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

Your questions for the committee should show that you’ve done research into the institution and that you want more detail than you can glean from the website.

Returning Books to their Places. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Instruction Librarian

Titles hired include: Instruction Librarian

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

√ 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:

For our instruction librarian positions, we have a hiring committee with usually 5-6 people, including the head of the dept, 1-2 other dept members, 1-2 faculty members from the position’s liaison depts across the college, and 1-2 library staff from other depts. We conduct as many first-round Zoom interviews as we have well-qualified applicants (anywhere from 3-10 or so), before inviting 2-3 finalists for day-long campus interviews.

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

They could speak about IDE work they had done/wanted to do AND tied this back to the ACRL Framework. It showed a clear understanding of critical pedagogy within a library setting, which we’re always looking for.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Candidates who make comments disparaging students (implying that they’re all lazy, want to get away with plagiarism, etc) are an instant no. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

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

Not having substantial, institution-specific questions for the hiring committee. It seems like this should be “interviewing 101,” but I’ve interviewed many candidates who ask a generic question (such as “what do you like about working here?”), and then  don’t have any additional questions prepared. Your questions for the committee should show that you’ve done research into the institution and that you want more detail than you can glean from the website.

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

Our first-round interviews are on Zoom. As with any interview, my main advice would be to limit distractions as much as possible — no noisy kids/pets interrupting if you can help it, make sure your Zoom background (either a virtual background or whatever is actually behind you) is clean and not visually busy, etc. If you’re not familiar with Zoom (or whatever virtual interview tech your institution is using), see if you can get any software downloaded and practice with a friend ahead of time!

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?

In the positions I’ve hired for, we look for teaching experience above all else. If you have experience with classroom teaching of ANY sort, emphasize it.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: It’s a separate phone call with HR that occurs between the first and second round interviews — I hate this system, but we don’t have any say in it.

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

Required anti-bias training for search committee members.

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

Librarians at my institution are regular staff — no special “academic” or faculty status. You should ask questions to make sure you have a sense of what this means.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

√ Other: 11-50 *library* staff, but many more staff within the university as a whole.

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

For academic positions, I think it would be helpful to include a question about librarian status within the institution — TT faculty, NTT faculty, staff, something else? — as well as the implications of that status as it relates to research/service expectations, job security, etc.

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, Academic, Midwestern US, Rural area

We send the interview questions in advance. If a candidate doesn’t have their answers prepared, I am very unimpressed.

Returning Books to their Places. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Department Director

Titles hired include: Liaison librarian (multiple), scholarly communications librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References 

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

We have two rounds (a phone screening then the full day interview). We usually bring 3 people in for full interviews, but it can be anywhere from 2 to 5. The search committee doesn’t include the position’s supervisor. The committee writes a report summarizing the pros and cons of each candidate. This is submitted to Admin as the hiring authority. Admin checks references, chooses the candidate and negotiates the offer. Search committee chair is responsible for all other communication with candidates.

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

They were well prepared and confident in their public presentation, and able to respond effectively to the audience’s questions. They were able to address multiple aspects of the role, and draw on their own experience.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lack of preparation for the parts of the interview day we give advance notice of. We send the interview questions in advance. If a candidate doesn’t have their answers prepared, I am very unimpressed.

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

Our required qualifications are absolutely requirements. If you don’t show that you meet them, we can’t interview you. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more 

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this  

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?

Make sure you’ve shared your screen/slides before you start presenting, check in that the volume is okay. If possible, try to share a phone number or alternative contact method in case the internet drops.

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?

Don’t rely on the committee to make the connections. Draw out the relevant stories and aspects of any previous work. Paraprofessional to professional roles can be hard in a single organization (which is stupid). You might need to leave and return in order to make that transition

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: We just started providing ranges or minimums in ads this year

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

Honestly, we do very little. We have HR telling us our targets for diverse hires, but that’s about the only formalized process

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

Why is this position available? How are decisions made in your organization? What internal communication channels exist? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

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