Category Archives: Southeastern US

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

If I have an anatomy professor on the hiring committee, they may not be able to connect the dots between managing retail operations and providing front-line library services

Ruth Castillo is the Director of the Library at Emory & Henry College in Virginia. Prior to coming to Virginia, she was a library department head at another private university. 

In these roles, Ruth has chaired numerous librarian and library staff search committees and served on faculty and administrator search committees for positions outside of the library. 

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

I chair search committees for library positions at the college. For all types of positions, candidates must apply online with a resume/cv, cover letter, and references. For staff positions, the committee typically does in-person interviews with the top 2-3 candidates before making a decision. For librarian (faculty) positions, the committee does a video call first-round interview with the best 5-10 candidates then recommends 1-3 candidates for an on-campus interview day. The interview day involves 5-8 different interviews, meetings, and often a teaching demonstration and includes meetings with the Provost, the library staff, and the Faculty Hiring Committee. After the on-campus interviews, the search committee and the Faculty Hiring Committee make independent recommendations to the Provost who will make a final decision regarding offering the position.

Titles hired include: Technical Services Librarian, Technical Services Specialist, Technical Services Assistant, Health Sciences Librarian, Public Services Librarian, Circulation Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ 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

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

The most impressive candidates I have seen are all able to articulate why they want to join us and what they would bring to the library.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Coming to an interview and asking no substantive questions.

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

What the candidate needs to know to determine if this would be the job for them (salary, schedules, work/life balance, health care, moving to the community, etc).

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 doing their homework. If you don’t know where we’re located, what type of institution we are, and how big the library staff is before I talk to you, I assume you don’t have an interest in working here.

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

We do! The beginning of a virtual interview can be awkward, for everyone. A great way to overcome that is handling the basics, like making sure people can hear and see you okay.

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 reference the job posting in the context of your experience. I intentionally look for these connections, but if I have an anatomy professor on the hiring committee, they may not be able to connect the dots between managing retail operations and providing front-line library services. Utilize cover letters and interviews as opportunities to make these types of connections.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: My institution does not allow us to post salary information. For staff hires, I provide salary and work schedules at the interview. For librarian (faculty) positions, it can be awkward to have that conversation during the interview with the committee present. I typically do a follow-up to the first interview with candidates we’re interested in bringing to campus that opens the door to discuss salary 1-1 before moving forward as a candidate.

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

All search committees are required to do training at the beginning of the search. We also use the same questions for all candidate interviews within a search.

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

What is the first challenge you would ask me to tackle in this position? How does this position fit into the strategic goals/plans of the library? When you started here, what surprised you the most about working here? What does communication within the library look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ A whole day of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

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

DEI and EEO training.

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

What do you expect from an organization that hires you?

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

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

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

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

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization: 

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

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

√ References 

√ In-person, structured interview 

√ Demonstration/task (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers? 

No 

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

The candidate’s true personality and work ethic. 

How many pages should each of these documents be? 

Cover Letter: √ Only one! 

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

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

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

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

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

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

Decisiveness in their answer. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information? 

√ It’s in the job posting and part of the information provided at the interview 

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like? 

√ Suburban 

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual? 

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization? 

√ 11-50 

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

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

He gave one of the best untrained booktalks that I’ve ever seen

Jess is the Director of Adult Services at Spartanburg County Public Libraries, where she started as a page 13 years ago. Jess has planned and facilitated hundreds of programs including dozens of author events, offered reader’s advisory services to thousands of readers, and has even managed to squeeze reading a book or two into the process.

When she’s not at the library, Jess can be found riding her horse, Max, or rapidly downing a small bag of Cheez-Its.

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

Our process is usually a four step test for candidates: the application, pre-employment testing, a live interview, and credit/background/reference check. I am involved in the review of applications and one of the interviewers, along with my Assistant Director. The pre-employment testing is computerized and administered by HR; it’s required for all applicants before an interview as an equalizing test of knowledge. My AD and I are responsible for selecting a top applicant after interviews, but we can (and often do) request input from our hiring specialist, who sits in on all interviews with us.

Titles hired include: Assistant Director of Multimedia & Fiction, Media Assistant, Multimedia & Fiction Assistant

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

√ Proof of degree (if applying for an MLIS-required position)

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc) (my department usually requests a program idea)

√ Other: Paper application (we’re working on getting it online)

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?

One of our recent hires came into the interview a few minutes late, which had dropped him a few points for all of us. But once he was in the room, I was really struck by his personality and his ability to take things in stride: from the jump he explained how he navigated the unexpected traffic jam he was stuck in to get to the library more quickly, and he was open, honest and expansive with his responses to our questions. One of my favorite interview prompts is “tell us what you’re watching right now and why we should watch it too”, and he gave one of the best untrained booktalks that I’ve ever seen. His passion and enthusiasm for the show (Ozark) clearly came through, and that’s a standard that I now hold other applicants to. (He’s proven to be a great employee!)

This was before I was in a position that included hiring responsibilities, but one weekend I was working the desk and a patron came in and asked my coworker and I a ton of questions about what we did–the environment, what our responsibilities were, and so on. It turned out that she was interviewing that Monday for a job in our department. I was really impressed that she came in on a Saturday to talk face to face with possible future coworkers, and she asked really thoughtful questions. My coworker and I told our supervisor about it, and she was impressed too, and ultimately, this candidate ended up getting the job.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Total lack of personality, including sense of humor. It might seem weird, but it’s essential when working with patrons to have a sense of humor. Being late without warning or not showing up is a big dealbreaker. And although it isn’t INSTANT, it’s hard work for an applicant to overcome “I love to read” as an answer for why they want to work in my department.

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

Their true capacity for providing extensive customer service over a long period of time. That’s something we really only learn once someone is in the environment.

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?

Assuming that we read at work and that the environment is quiet! We also very often talk to candidates who have never been to a program as an adult or perhaps have never really even used the library. They know nothing about what we offer. Learn what we have available before you walk into the interview! If you work at a library, the patrons think you’re a librarian, no matter what degree you have, so show that you’re ready for that by researching the place where you want to work before you’re in the environment.

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

As needed, yes. Sometimes candidates live pretty far away or have a medical issue pop up at the last minute, and we try to accommodate that. It’s usually over Skype or Zoom, and of course the environment is subpar. I always, always recommend to anyone applying for any job, but especially via virtual means: let your personality shine through. We can teach you how to use the ILS and the difference between HDMI and XLR, but I cannot teach you to have a good personality and an ability to let things roll off your back. Be expansive with your answers, and try to make the interview into more of a conversation. That’s especially helpful virtually, where the back and forth can be painfully stilted.

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

Think really hard and really broad about how your experience CAN be relevant. For example, I majored in Latin (and my parents still hold that one over my head). I never thought that my knowledge of Latin would amount to anything in the public library setting, but I’ve been sent multiple patrons over the years for reader’s advisory help because no one else knows what to give someone who just read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. Similarly, I wanted to be an architect as a kid, and I ended up harnessing my drafting skills to design miniature houses that patrons could put together and decorate for the holidays, which came to be an immensely popular program.

I can’t speak for other library types, but in public libraries (or at least MY public library), we will really work with you to harness your passions and turn them into something for our patrons. Virtually anything you do that could be considered “project management” (like planning a wedding, a trip, or a big move), “data analysis” (tracking your personal budget, extensive healthcare paperwork, or tracking your car mileage), or “customer service” (helping your partner’s mother with a TV input issue, looking for a good book for a friend, or making cold calls for a local nonprofit) can all be spun into something relevant to library work.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

Well, we’re a southern library in a fairly conservative area, so we’re working uphill on this. But we are working on it.

Hiring staff have all gone through training regarding bias in the interview process, and that was helpful for me, especially when it comes to communicating about bias. My AD and I work very hard to reflect on our biases and openly call them out on ourselves and each other during the deliberation process. We are both operating through the lens of managing all of the past staff we’ve managed and we have to be V-E-R-Y careful about putting those biases into context.

I also try to show at least one of my tattoos in the interview setting and my AD has purple hair, so I’m hoping that is a signal that we are stylistically speaking a more open, accommodating and relaxed atmosphere.

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

Please, for the love of all things great and small: ask us SOMETHING. You’re interviewing us as much as we are interviewing you, and not asking any questions is a signal to me that you aren’t thinking analytically about the role, the organization, or your future supervisors.

I think it’s always a good idea to ask about our benefits package–we say on our postings that we have an excellent benefits package, but not what it entails, so that’s a gimme. I like when staff ask what a typical day looks like for the position, and what parameters are for success in the role. Asking questions about our strategic plan is nice too, because it means they know we have a strategic plan in the first place. A candidate of yore asked what the library’s ultimate relationship with the community was and how we worked toward that, which was a very smart question that showed that the candidate was thinking about how to make the library work within the larger scope of our county.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Other: Urban city and rural county

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ Other: Currently, 189, but on a fully-staffed day, we have 229. (One branch is closed for rebuilding, and we have a lot of open positions right now.)

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

For the job hunters: Don’t give up. The jobs are out here. You’re going to have to LOOK for them, though, and look beyond the typical places. There are a lot of libraries hiring right now, but not all the jobs end up on the ALA Joblist or other big sites (some of them require that libraries pay to post their positions, and we don’t all have the money for it). Do some digging, research libraries in multiple areas, and go to their actual websites. 

For the survey author: So glad you’re bringing HL back. I’m very happy to see this resource return in full force; it’s been helpful to me as an applicant time and time again, and I’m happy to return the favor by sharing info from my perspective as a hiring manager now that I’m in that part of my career.

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

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Public, Southeastern US

Our process generally follows the ACRL Guidelines for Recruiting Academic Librarians

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for an:

√ Academic Library

Title: Associate Dean

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

√ Other: Meetings with non-library stakeholders

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

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

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