Category Archives: Rural area

Speaking about past experience is important, but it’s even more important to address the job you’re applying for.

Photograph of James B. Rhoads and Pavel Podlesnyy, USSR (The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) Embassy Librarian Presenting Vol. 15 USSR Foreign Policy to NARS, 7/31/1970. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: University Archivist

Titles hired include: Librarian, Library clerk, student employee

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

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

For open librarian positions the position information is sent to Academic Affairs and then approved by the Board of Governors to be filled. Then a hiring committee of two librarians and an outside faculty member is formed. This hiring committee reviews applicants and selects at least two to interview. Initial interviews are completed online. Second/third interviews are usually conducted over a full day, with separate interviews with the hiring committee, HR, Academic Affairs and potential colleagues in the library. This process includes a meal with the hiring committee and a tour of the library and parts of campus. The hiring committee then reviews the applicants with recommendations from HR and Academic Affairs. An applicant is selected and an offer is made.

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

They studied the library and our unique needs in advance! They also explained their job in their current library very well, so that the non-library faculty member understood by the end.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not addressing the activities of the job they applied for with any competence. 

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

How knowledgeable they are about the job they applied for.

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?

They forget to ask questions about the job or about the people interviewing them.

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

Yes, I’ve done a few. Be sure you’re in a quiet location with a good background. Be passionate about the job you’re applying for.

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?

Research well in advance of your interview so that you are able to competently explain what you bring to the job you’re applying for. Speaking about past experience is important, but it’s even more important to address the job you’re applying for. With public academic libraries applicants can often get an idea of what salaries are like through the state. Researching the organization you’re applying for, is important, as is researching the library/library job you’re applying for.

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?

Only the names of applicants are known until they are called for interviews. This doesn’t help with possible name discrimination, or work history discrimination.

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 most in an applicant for this job? How does the work in the library overlap? 

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?

√ 11-50 

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

if a routine social media scan or other screening reveals a belief in conspiracy theories or misinformation, a library is not an appropriate workplace for that person.

Isabel Miller and Barbara Gittings hugging librarians. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Program Coordinator, Library Assistant, Summer Reading Program Coordinator

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:

Post a job, schedule an interview, make a preliminary decision, check references, make an offer. I am involved at all levels.

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

Able to anticipate needs–either from a customer service perspective or a library perspective. And a strong service orientation–patrons are not “interrupting” your work they ARE your work.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

We do request a criminal record check. Also if a routine social media scan or other screening reveals a belief in conspiracy theories or misinformation, a library is not an appropriate workplace for that person.

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

How they’ll mesh with the team. Whether they’re someone who has good work follow-through or skates by on charm and personality.

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?

Honestly, not prepping at all. No evidence that they’ve looked at the library’s website, know about its services, or have opinions on how things might be done or what the library is doing well/poorly.

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

Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions. Interest in the institution and the particular place of employment goes a long way.

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

It really depends what skills I’m looking for. Library Assistant skills can be taught. Library values and knowledge about the library ecosystem are valuable for more senior positions since we have a small team without a lot of time/budget for getting people up to speed. In general though strong service orientation, strong technology skills, and willingness to jump into anything right away (flexibility and enthusiasm) are things that I consider to be important.

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?

We try to hire to reflect our community and specifically for more diversity on staff. In terms of actual mechanisms, we have an equity statement on job ads and sometimes we post the positions with organizations that have connections in various communities, but that’s really about it. Put like that, it sounds like we should be doing more.

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

Something that makes it clear that they understand the position, know something about the library in relation to that position and that they’re interested in learning more about the library, the community, the work and have something to contribute.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Canada, Public, Rural area

I am always impressed when someone asks about disaster preparedness

Stuart Strachan, Senior Archivist, National Archives, examines files from the Prime Minister’s Department (1980). Archives New Zealand on Flickr.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Other: Museum

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Assistant Archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

The HR manager posts the Assistant Archivist position, the Archivist does an initial pass on the applicants’ resume and cover letter. The Archivist and Curator pick the top 6 candidates for phone interviews with both. Following the phone interviews, the top 3 candidates are invited for an interview via Zoom or in-person. The Curator and Archivist evaluate the final candidates with the Archivist making the final decision on who to hire

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

They worked with multiple types of collections, i.e. paper, photos, and oral histories. They showed a willingness and excitement to learn more skills and apply them.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

A disorganized resume. If the resume is not uniform and organized, it shows a lack of attention to detail that is required in this job.

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

How willing they are to speak up to say something isn’t working or if their concentration is wavering during long-term monotonous tasks. Things can always be adjusted even if it’s picking up a small task to “jump start” their concentration, but if they don’t/won’t speak up, I can’t help them.

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?

They didn’t do research on the organization or the area that they might live in.

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

Yes. They should be comfortable but not lounging. I can tell if they’re comfortable because those interviewees tend to be more engaged.

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?

Highlight applicable skills. We do a lot of cataloguing and research, tell me what you’ve done similarly. Look into remote volunteering situations to bolster your resume if you are unable to volunteer or intern in an archive.

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 don’t have anything in place. I try not to look at names, graduating and/or working dates, or addresses of former workplaces until after the initial pass. In our organization, local hires are always prioritized because management requests early start dates. This could rule out most candidates for the archives as there is not a large pool of local applicants.

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

For us, copyright is key, as I work in a single artist museum. Asking questions about projects coming up is always good to show planning for the future. I am always impressed when someone asks about disaster preparedness, because it shows me they have looked into the area and are looking at the protection of the collection 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western 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?

√ 11-50

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Archives, Rural area, Special, Suburban area, Urban area, Western US

I want to see problem-solving, communication skills, ability to facilitate meetings or host programs, and enough technology skills to make the job go smoothly.

Front of the Harry S. Truman Library. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Other: State Library

Title: Library Development Director

Titles hired include: Youth Services Consultant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

The agency director, with input from the department head, writes a job description for the desired position. (If it’s an existing position, the department head may just need to edit/review.) The HR manager posts it to various sites and monitors applications. Once the deadline is past and a sufficient number of candidates have applied, the department head reviews them with the help of HR and the agency director. First round interviews are sometimes online, due to COVID or if the candidate is too far to travel. They usually include the department head and HR manager. They frequently involve a short presentation related to the job, as well as some scenario based questions. Second round interviews are in person, with the agency director involved, and may also include a demonstration. HR then extends an offer to the desired candidate.

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

Good presentation skills, ability to problem-solve, obvious knowledge of their field of expertise and our agency’s role

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Pushy or rude, glaring errors in the writing sample questions, hasn’t reviewed our agency website and info to see what we do; bad references

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

It’s sometimes hard to see their judgment/diplomacy when dealing with difficult situations. We need candidates who have good judgment and can be trusted to represent the agency when not under direct supervision.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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?

Too vague with answers, not specific enough examples of relevant work; not reading the job description (our work isn’t directly with library patrons)

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

Yes – know your technology and also don’t be flustered if something goes wrong, have a backup plan. Have a nice background and no distractions. 

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?

Emphasize skill sets related to your knowledge base. I may not need someone who can catalog materials, but could use someone who can work with databases and sort or categorize data. If you can put together a storytime or manage a summer reading program, those are project management and program development skills. I want to see problem-solving, communication skills, ability to facilitate meetings or host programs, and enough technology skills to make the job go smoothly.

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?

Our HR tries to promote job openings to HBCUs and other diverse audiences, but we primarily hire degreed librarians and the degree is still out of reach for many. 

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

Ask what we hope to accomplish in the position. What major projects are coming up or in progress, or what aspects we want to develop. They need to know that our patrons are the library staff and that we don’t work directly with patrons. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: statewide; a lot of rural with some suburban and urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: working on work-from-home options 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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

Don’t check notifications during the interview

Several people look at books and documents at tables in an archives
Reading Room, National Archives, Air New Zealand Building (1985). Archives New Zealand on Flickr.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

Title: Reference Services Manager

Titles hired include: Reference Archivist, processing Archivist, outreach archivist, research analyst, archives tech 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Online applications are reviewed by the supervisor and director to select the interviewees. Interviews are held with HR present. Supervisory positions will often have a second interview with the administration. Background checks are done before references are checked. 

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

The biggest wows are usually the people who don’t look as impressive on paper but interview really well. They have generally reviewed our website and general collections so were prepared to tie their experience to our situation- even things that don’t seem like they would be related. 

Cover letters are the best way to point out how your experience is relevant (especially when it isn’t traditional) and is often what puts someone ahead of another person with similar levels of experience. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If they ask for way more money than is posted for the position (we are government and salaries are pretty set to that range)

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

Not sure. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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 being familiar with the job description or the basic information about the Institution

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

Yes – try not to have obvious distractions and mute your phone (and don’t check notifications during the interview). 

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

Directly relate it to lines in the job description or to functions you notice on their website (collections, databases, outreach etc)

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

I’m not sure we do anything beyond state mandated rules. We don’t have any features that eliminate anyone before they are seen by the supervisor.  Current staff are very conscious about not discriminating (in various areas) and HR might have other ways/procedures that I am not aware of. 

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

Any question that shows that they have thought about the actual position or working for the specific institution. 

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?

√ 11-50

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

Include a cv and relate your experience to the job description 

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, Archives, Midwestern US, Rural area, Suburban area

With the political pressure libraries are facing these days, it would be great to know where potential hires stand politically, but that runs the risk of being accused of discrimination

A white man with glasses shows off a large illustrated book
Plymouth City Librarian Bill Best Harris, pictured here in 1976, who researched the Mayflower’s link to Newlyn CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Director

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Clerk and Substitute

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel 

√ Other: I just wanted to specify that directors are hired by the library board’s personnel committee and the directors hire the rest of their staff.

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ 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:

List the position on our website, relevant listservs and Facebook. In the past, I have taken applications directly on FB, but in the future I will probably do online applications through our website. I review applications as I receive them and depending on the amount of good candidates, either schedule phone/virtual interviews first or skip directly to in-person. After all the in person interviews are completed, I review references for my top choices and make a final decision. Even if I have an internal candidate in mind, I do list the job and interview any other strong candidates in case they may want to be put into our substitute pool. 

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

She was a recent college graduate who had work study in the college library. During that placement, she effectively replaced a full time librarian who went on leave and worked on digitizing an oral history project the college had started in the 1970s. It was a really useful experience that had led her to decide she wanted to be a librarian, and I could see how much she would add to our library. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

People who have a lot of complaints about their past jobs (especially customer service complaints), people who want a quiet job with lots of sitting and people who gush about how much they love reading.

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

With the political pressure libraries are facing these days, it would be great to know where potential hires stand politically, but that runs the risk of being accused of discrimination.

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?

Revealing personal information that I don’t want to know because even if I can’t consider it, just knowing it all makes it difficult for me.

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

I have. Test your equipment beforehand, but know that it will probably fail when you need it the most. Try not to show frustration and stay calm when that happens. 

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

My library doesn’t require an MLIS for any positions so I don’t ever expect candidates to be librarians, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do the work. To me, library work is customer service work, so any customer service experience is helpful. I also like candidates with experience in educational settings and with IT work. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: I always list it when I hire, but the library board usually lists none or a range when hiring a director.

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

I don’t know if we are doing this work, honestly. I always try to think about increasing the diversity in my library, but I know there are some changes that need to be made to our job descriptions to avoid discrimination. I know that we (yes, I’ve been guilty of it myself) often think too much about age and gender when hiring, and I’m not sure how to fix that.

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

Anything and everything about the work they will be doing! But I get really excited when they ask philosophical questions about libraries and library work. That shows me they are really engaged and interested, and not just looking for any old job. I do think it is important that they know the pay, benefits and other things that are required of them; I don’t ever want to discourage someone with these things, but I do know that they won’t be good enough for everyone, and I don’t want people to sacrifice their financial wellbeing to work at my library.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern 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

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

Please don’t follow up with calls and emails unless you haven’t heard a single peep and the job application window is closed. We are busy and understaffed, so following up feels like nagging because it takes away time I could actually be using to try to fill the position. That said, I will always, always, always reply to all applicants, even if just to say we haven’t selected them for an interview, because I believe that basic courtesy is so important to keep from making the job hunt even more demoralizing than it already is.

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

Nobody cares how long you sit at your desk, you are judged by what you accomplish

An older white man with an interesting striped coat sits in front of a book. A picture of a woman and vase of flowers are behind him.
Joseph C. Rowell, retired librarian of University of California. From UC Berkeley Library Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Professor

Titles hired include: Subject specialist librarian (assistant prof rank)

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: the committee may include a faculty member from the area the librarian will be supporting

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

√ Other: Prior to a formal job offer, the proof of degree is just a copy of unofficial (free) transcripts. Official transcripts are only required from the person who gets the job offer. We also require a presentation, but not in the form of a demonstration

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: We use an online system, but we haven’t been approved to hire since we got it. I think that’s an option not a requirement.

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

My role depends on the committee, which depends on the position we’re hiring for. We also haven’t had a position approved since the pandemic started. If we get approved, we will explore virtual options to replace the on-campus interviews.  

A committee is formed, generally consisting of 5 people, including 2-4 people from the department the position is in, one staff member, and maybe one faculty member from another discipline, as appropriate for the role. The hiring committee drafts the job ad, including requirements, and gets approval from the dean. And then the ad is posted to various job sites and email lists. After the deadline, we review applications and select 6-9 candidates for a round of phone interviews. Of those, we select 3 candidates to invite for on-campus interviews, which are full day interviews. The candidate usually flies in the day before and rents a car to drive to the area (1 hour from the airport), which gives them more freedom to explore the area. The interview day was grueling for all of us, starting around 8 or 8:30am, and ending with dinner around 5:30 or 6 – how that conversation went determined how late it would be when the candidate would be dropped off back at their hotel. And then the candidate traveled home the following day. 

After all interviews, the committee would discuss the candidates and agree on who to make the offer to and how to proceed if that person turned the offer down (would we be happy with another candidate as the second choice or would it become a failed search?). If the supervisor is NOT on the committee, then the committee outlines its decision to the supervisor. The supervisor conveys the committee decision to the dean, who then gets whatever higher approvals are needed. And then the supervisor calls the candidate to make an offer. 

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

In the last search I chaired, there was one candidate who really wowed us on paper and on the phone. Honestly, I don’t remember why, though. There was another candidate who looked good on paper, but seemed a bit awkward in the phone interview – timing was off since nobody could see body language. Both were invited to on-campus interviews. The first candidate was good with the short answers and small talk, but the second candidate stood out as really thoughtful, asking questions that showed they were really listening to what we said and putting pieces together, and thinking strategically about things. We made the offer to that second candidate. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

poor understanding of how structural oppression works; poor treatment of anyone “below” the rank they’ll be hired into; microaggressive behaviors

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

I can’t think of anything now

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 

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

Failing to interview us as well

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

We haven’t, but we plan to explore this in the future

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?

The complaint I hear most about people transitioning from parapro work to faculty positions is that they don’t really understand the difference between the two. It may not be as significant in academic libraries where librarians are staff, but here we are tenure track faculty, which entails a lot more self-motivated work on your own schedule. Nobody cares how long you sit at your desk, you are judged by what you accomplish, including publications and conference presentations, serving on committees at all levels (university, system, prof org), in addition to core functions within the library. 

For a position as a subject librarian in my department, experience as a school teacher is more visibly relevant than work at a circulation desk. So what did you do at that circulation desk that connects with what we do? Did you answer reference questions? Did you take initiative to build your knowledge of resources available to support students in particular subject areas? How did that prepare you to build relationships as an equal (not providing a service to them but collaborating as a peer) with faculty across campus? 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

I’ve written too much and am running out of time! We attend conference presentations and keep up on current literature on best practices to reduce bias as much as possible. 

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

Read up on suggestions for questions to learn about the climate (is this a toxic workspace?). And think about all the info you get thru the day in order to ask questions that show you’re thinking strategically about how you fit and how you could succeed in this role. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

√ Other: About an hour from a good sized city, many faculty commute, but the uni is in a small town.

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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

Facility with language

New Dorp, Seated librarian with costumed children at story hour. From the New York Public Library

This interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Senior Librarian

Titles hired: Librarian, Clerk, Specialist, Supervisor, Page

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

I participate in panels as SME in children’s services.

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

Facility with language.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Yes

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

Attitude

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?

Assume they can do things alone, not ask for help.

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

Yes.

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

Make connections with experience to new 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?

Reach out to national library associations

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

What teams are like

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US

What’s your region like?

√ Other: Half rural half suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

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

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library 

Title: Regional Manager, Library Services

Titles hired include: Library Technician, Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer 

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ Other: 7000 (special library inside larger organization)

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

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

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

Someone with expertise in an area we don’t have is usually attractive – something like e-resource management, coding and technical skills, archives, etc.

Rose Bush. From the UC Berkeley Library Digital Collection

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Reference and Instruction Librarian, Circulation Assistant, Circulation Staff, ILL Staff

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

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

The library staff write the position description for approval by HR.  We create a selection committee of 3-5 people (usually supervisor, a coworker, and someone from outside the library).  We have access to applications and review candidates, and choose 5-8 for interviews.  For most positions, after interviews, we choose a candidate and do reference checks (our HR requires two, one of which must be supervisory), then HR approves the hire and calls to make the offer.  For any MLS required position, there may be a second interview with administration above the library director.

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

Candidates that are attractive have specific experience that fills a hole in my library.  We are a staff of 5, so someone with expertise in an area we don’t have is usually attractive – something like e-resource management, coding and technical skills, archives, etc.  It’s also impressive when candidates are able to answer interview questions with relevant examples that demonstrate their experience – many candidates try to do this, but are often too vague.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If someone didn’t follow the directions in the posting, they usually don’t make my interview list, unless there aren’t many candidates.

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

As a very small community college in a rural area in the midwest, I’m always curious why people from out of state are applying, or why people very over qualified for the position are applying.  Answering those questions in a cover letter could be helpful.

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?

In situational questions, saying “I don’t know how I would handle that” or “I’ve never been in that situation before” without speculating about how they would handle it.  In general, just being short with answers and not providing details or not connecting their experience to the question.

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

Yes we do.  Make sure you’re in a quiet location with a generally not-distracting background, with a functional camera and mic.  Make eye contact with the camera, and be as engaging as you would be in person.

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

Focus on skills – someone with k-12 education experience knows a lot about curriculum and organization and deadlines.  Someone with retail experience has skills in dealing with patrons and answering phones, and potentially social media and marketing or inventory management.  Those are all things we’re looking for, so just make sure to take the time to explain the tasks that you have done and how they are similar to what we do in libraries.  With my small staff, I’m often looking for someone comfortable making decisions on their own and responsible enough to work alone sometimes – highlight those kinds of skills, it doesn’t matter what the decision was about.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: We list a range in the job ad, and that’s all I can speak to at the interview.  HR determines their salary based on education and experience, and discusses specifics in the offer.

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

We have required EDI training before being placed on a selection committee.  All committees have a person of color serving on them, and ideally a mix of genders as well.  HR also reviews interview selections, and sometimes adds additional candidates to ensure diversity.  Because of the size of our institution, the same people keep getting asked to be on interview committees, which is not a fair ask.  

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 want them to ask something.  I don’t mind if they ask about salary or benefits, but like it when they ask something about the library or the job too.  Questions about management style, daily work and responsibilities, interaction with other departments, the college or library in general – all of that is good.

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 

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