Category Archives: Southeastern US

It can be easily faked in an interview

Archivist Awards. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Librarian, Outreach & Instruction

Titles hired include: Instruction librarian, archivist, library specialist, circulation 

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 

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ 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:

Hiring manager or committee member on hiring committee 

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

Hit all points in the ad, articulate and evidence of helping students 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Incorrect cover letter and resume- for the wrong job

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

Self starter that wants to learn. It can be easily faked in an interview 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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

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

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

Not researching the library 

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

Yes, if possible, no distractions such as barking dogs or other loud noises 

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

If looking for a job that has a large part of desk duty, customer service experience is valuable 

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?

Diverse hiring committee. 

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

In-person hours for all positions. Evenings and weekends for most

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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

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

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.

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

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

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

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

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

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

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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

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

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

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 

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, Rural area, Southeastern US

Salary discussion is handled by the recruiter

Two men and a women use a machine with large sheets of paper
[Librarians feeding large sheets of paper through a machine at the Card Section of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.] From the Library of Congress

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for:

√ Other: Graduate Medical Education

Title: Director, Knowledge Management & Scholarly Communications 

Titles hired include: Research Publications Coordinator, Education & Digital Initiatives Specialist, Medical Writer, Medicare Editor

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ CV

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Create job description, send to compensation, send to recruiter, review applicants meeting requirements, interview applicants, extend offer to prefer candidate via recruiter

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

So very knowledgeable about information systems and architecture

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No energy, doesn’t ask questions

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

How they got along with co-workers

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ Only One! 

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

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

Not asking questions

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

Yes.  It is really no different than an in-person meeting

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?

Provide examples of happy clients and successful projects.  Have a good answer to “Why should I hire you”?

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Salary discussion is handled by the recruiter

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

Lots of training, practice interviews

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

Leadership/management style,  culture, team and individual expectations

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

 Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 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, Other Organization or Library Type, Southeastern US, Urban area

It’s a good process, no complaints

Robert Stanley Dollar, Jr., Robert Stanley Dollar, Sr., and Jeanne Nichols, Librarian at Capt. Robert Dollar World Trade Library. From UC Berkeley Library Digital Collections.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Campus Librarian

Titles hired include: Reference & Instruction Librarian, Campus Librarian, Dean of Library Services

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)

√ Other: VP of Academics & President of College

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

√ Online application

√ CV

√ 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? 

√ No

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

Hiring committee of peers & Dean of Libraries

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

They were confident, knowledgeable, and direct/professional with their answers

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If they’re confused easily, stress out over simple questions, or say something racist/sexist in the interview

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

it’s a good process, no complaints

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?

underestimating the job responsibilities

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

Yes. Speak clearly, repeat the question to make sure you’re answering correctly, other than that… good luck. Virtual interviews all suck.

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

If you sound like you don’t have any idea what we do, you’re not getting the job. If you sound like you understand what you’re in for, any application of your personal experience can help you.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

HR reviews the first round of on-paper candidates and requires certain protected-status candidates to get an initial interview in the 2nd round.

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

Relevant questions that are unexpected are always good. Asking about the working relationships & culture is good too

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 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, Academic, Southeastern US, Suburban area

We’d rather wait a few seconds and get a well-thought out answer!

Headshot of Alan Smith. He wears glasses, a white shirt and tie.

Alan Smith is Director of the Florence County, SC Library System and holds a Master of Library and Information Science degree from the University of South Carolina. 

Over the past 20 years he has worked in rural, urban, and suburban public libraries, in a wide variety of roles.

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

I send all applications to the position’s direct supervisor and let them choose who to interview (I will sometimes add in a name too). We interview with a 3-person panel consisting of me, the position’s direct supervisor, and another manager. We rotate other managers in and out and always keep the panel as diverse as possible. After interviewing we score individually and discuss. I defer to the direct supervisor if our opinions differ.

After all this they go through our county’s background check and drug test.  

Titles hired include: Everything! From Branch Library Managers, Information Services Manager, Youth Services Coordinator, Training and Outreach Coordinator, to Pages, Library Assistants, Custodian, Maintenance, Courier…

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

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

She had a wide variety of experience, none of it in libraries, but really convincingly demonstrated how those skills and experiences would translate to our mission and values. 

Interviews are limited in what they can tell you — and I’ve hired folks with great interviews who turned out not to be great employees — but someone who gives a pleasant interview with thoughtful answers is at least demonstrating that they can do well in a stressful personal interaction, which is a pretty good indicator of customer service skills.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Sounds obvious, but people who don’t show up for an interview and don’t call. We’ve had people do a complete no-show and then continue applying for other positions?! 

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

What kind of coworker are they? Will they help resolve conflicts among other employees or will they just enjoy watching drama unfold? Will they add to or strain social cohesion on the team?

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! 

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

 CV: √ We don’t ask for this  

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

Feeling like they have to answer immediately and not giving themselves a second to think about their answers. We’d rather wait a few seconds and get a well-thought out answer! And, people who are clearly reluctant to talk about their own accomplishments and virtues. This is where you toot your own horn! 

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

Occasionally. Number one is site preparation – interview from a quiet, distraction free environment (as much as is within your control). 

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’m more concerned whether candidates have done work aligned around a mission or set of values, and whether they have experience building good community relationships and/or working with customers, than whether they have done those things in a library setting. 

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 always use a 3-person panel with members of different races and genders. That doesn’t eliminate individual unconscious bias, of course, but we try to acknowledge it in our discussions about candidates. I do worry about discrimination baked into the process itself, i.e., which candidates’ applications do we never even receive because we didn’t advertise where they would see it, didn’t convince them we were the type of place they would be welcome, etc. 

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

Asking any kind of questions shows a level of interest and critical thinking that we’re really looking for. I like to hear questions about culture and environment (“What’s a typical day like here?” “What do you like most or least about the job?”), and questions about the overall organization’s direction (“What are the library’s top priorities?” “What would a successful person in this position be doing a year from now?”)

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Very limited remote options during early phases of COVID; our County required all-onsite after May 2020.

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? 

I’m always interested in hearing feedback on specific interview questions — questions that are especially illuminating, or well-known questions that are useless. Maybe beyond the scope of this survey though.

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

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

Smoking while with members of the search committee

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for an:

√ Academic Library

Title: Head of Content Curation

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

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

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

Skills are transferable, so I would rather see a candidate understand their capabilities rather than have exact experience.

Headshot of Beth Walker

Beth Walker (she/her) is a Senior Librarian at the Haymarket Gainesville Library in Prince William County Virginia. She received her MLS from UNC-Chapel Hill and her undergraduate degree from St. John’s College, which is known for its distinctive Great Books program. 

She lives in Haymarket with her spouse and two cats.

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

The supervisor of the position creates a hiring profile, laying out the main duties of the position and desired qualifications/experience. An ad is created and posted. HR uses an automatic screening system for minimum qualifications. Then an HR subject matter expert additionally screens the remaining applications to verify qualifications. All remaining applicants are interviewed. The interviews are scored based on responses demonstrating skills and experience. The top scorer is sent a “ban the box” question via email, and then references are called. References must be current and/or former supervisors. If the references check out, the top candidate is offered the position. Alternates may be selected by the hiring manager, so if the top candidate does not accept the position or leaves within 6 months, then the alternate may be considered.

Titles hired include: Librarian, Library Assistant, Library Technician, Library Page

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

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes

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

Provided good, clear examples in the interview of their skills, even if they did not have direct experience for the proposed questions. Skills are transferable, so I would rather see a candidate understand their capabilities rather than have exact experience.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One! Note: We accept cover letters and resumes, but mainly focus on the electronic application submitted

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Not providing enough details to answer the question. Also, repeating the same examples or going into too much detail about one aspect and then neglecting other areas (saying “I don’t have an answer for that” after spending 10 minutes on the previous question). It also helps to show enthusiasm for something other than “loving books”. Don’t rely only on your resume to demonstrate your skills. 

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

Have a good internet/audio setup. Otherwise I don’t really factor in setting (to the extent that I don’t even care about how a person dresses, or what the background looks like). I prefer not to have interruptions (animals, people), but you can always let me know if you are in a space that might not afford the same level of privacy as an in-person 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?

Again, skills are transferable, so try to give examples of what you have done that are similar to what the hiring manager is looking for. You may want to think outside of the box and maybe write out in advance some examples to refer to. I also accept personal life experiences as examples, even though it can’t necessarily be verified via references. Anything related to volunteer work, involvement in community organizations or church activities, or even jobs you may have had previously that were not library-related. We are always looking for people who are good interacting with other people, are able to follow instructions and relate that to other people, and have some experience with technology. 

When does your organization *first* provide 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?

Managers in our organization are required to take an Equal Employment Opportunity training every year to identify the various kinds of discrimination and how to avoid it. Hiring managers don’t see the applications until they are screened through, then all qualified candidates are interviewed. We try to score candidates based on only their responses, but obviously this is where potential discrimination can occur. Like many libraries, ours trends heavily white and female, which can contribute to implicit bias. However, hiring panels always include at least two managers and the scores must agree within a certain range. We use a competency matrix to score, so if the scores are too far apart you have to justify why the candidate’s responses scored higher or lower. 

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

Ask about the team and growth opportunities. Also, ask any questions you really want to know, because you are also interviewing our organization for fit. Since our library is a part of the county government, there can be quite a bit of bureaucracy involved, so if you are unfamiliar with that type of work environment ask about it. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Certain positions can occasionally telework, but it is mostly in person

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ Note: Our system has 11 branches; the larger branches have about 20-30 staff, and the smaller branches around 5, supplemented by volunteers

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

Don’t underestimate your own worth! It can be uncomfortable to talk about yourself, especially if you are worried that you are not exactly qualified, but sell up everything you can think of that is relevant to the job description. Particularly in the paraprofessional positions, managers can see your potential if you give good examples of skills. If you are applying for a public-facing position, make sure to highlight any customer service experience you may have. Write down some examples of things you have accomplished and are proud of, and use it in the interview. If you are more experienced, don’t be afraid to show the full extent of your knowledge, but be willing to demonstrate that you still enjoy learning. 

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