Category Archives: Archives

Please read the Required section of the job ad. Take it seriously.

Archivist with Damaged Negative of Abraham Lincoln. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives 

Title: Assoc director 

Titles hired include: Librarian, processing archivist, reference assistance, archivist 

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?

√ Cover letter

√ CV

√ References

√ More than one round of interviews

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?

Skill, willing to adapt to organizational needs and culture

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lack of knowledge about field

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

How well organized they are. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

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

Yes, make sure you aren’t interrupted during the interview. Keep your dog in another room. 

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?

They can show extra training or reading they’ve done to understand professional work

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?

Training

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

Work culture 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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?

√ 51-100 

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

Please read the Required section of the job ad. Take it seriously. Respond to each requirement in your cover letter. Don’t make the selection committee guess whether you meet them.  Make sure claims in your cover letter are backed up in your resume. 

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, Academic, Archives, Northeastern US, Suburban area

If you’re stuck though, ask people what they like about working there. Long hesitation is telling.

Photograph of Society of American Archivists Study Tour, Vatican, Rome. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives 

Titles hired include: Collections archivist, archives director, librarian

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

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ 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:

Committee crafts job description, admin approves, committee reviews all applications (resume, cover letter) and culls to 6-9 phone interviews, then 3-4 full-day interviews (usually in person but have been via Zoom recently). 

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

They made a good case for their ability to contribute to a team and they understood why they worked, not just how to follow instructions. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Too much reliance on a manager telling you what to do, lack of curiosity

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

How they handle disagreement or adversity.

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?

Answering questions with a yes or no. This is your chance to tell us about your work and ideas!

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

It’s hard not to talk over people in a Zoom meeting. Take a brief pause before speaking if you can. Don’t worry about avoiding awkwardness. Everyone feels a little weird!

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?

Never apologize for your experience or try to hide it! Lots of people have the degree, but very few have other experience and make a great case for how it makes them a better, more well-rounded candidate. Explain yourself as a whole person with a unique perspective, because you are! 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Pushing to put it in the ad, but it’s not always done

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

There is an HR training and we try to anonymize a bit in the first round. Improvements certainly possible.

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

Your questions are always best if you do a bit of research first. If you’re stuck though, ask people what they like about working there. Long hesitation is telling.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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, Academic, Archives, Midwestern US, Urban area

Nothing is more frustrating than finding an amazing candidate, and then they realize moving is not feasible once we’ve made the offer.

Archivist Joseph B. Howerton. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library 

Title: Executive Director

Titles hired include: Assistant Director, Archives Librarian, Cultural Engagement Coordinator, Library Assistant, Programming & Outreach Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ 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:

Applications are submitted via online application, with resume’s and cover letters being emailed to myself, Executive Director.  Hiring panel comprised of myself, positions supervisors, and sometimes peers review and rate applicants.  Hiring Panel conducts interviews, often via zoom.  Top candidates have references checked, before offer is made.  

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

Excellent hiring packet, including application, cover letter and resume.  Good communication throughout process, but not overburdening.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

incomplete application, too informal cover letter (like less than a paragraph total), with no greeting or closing.

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

why they want to move to our community, we usually ask, but few if any have an answer. The ones that do stand out.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

not knowing anything about the community they applied to work in.  

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

We do almost all supervisory level via virtual platform.  Have a non-distracting background, and expect a few hiccups, despite good internet connections, sometimes we miss things and may ask you to repeat, it’s ok to ask us to repeat as well.

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

Focus on transferrable skills, if you are good at working with people, in a variety of settings, tell us!  We need people who are adaptable and willing to learn!

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

I like it when they ask questions related to research they’ve done about our organization, or what the immediate need it for the position.  Those come off better than immediately asking about benefits, which are listed in the job ad.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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

Please consider whether you are willing/able to move before you apply.  Nothing is more frustrating than finding an amazing candidate, and then they realize moving is not feasible once we’ve made the offer.

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

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

Job postings and position descriptions are a major problem

[Librarian Belle da Costa Greene, three-quarter length portrait, standing, facing slightly left] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

√ Special Library 

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Archivist, project archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ 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? 

√ Yes 

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

Online applications go to HR who conduct an initial screening, they send applications onto the hiring committee which is almost always chaired by the supervisor for the open position.  The hiring committee always includes multiple staff from across departments with some knowledge of the work the incumbent will be performing (supervisor, curator, someone in a parallel or very similar position within the unit, someone with a tangentially related job in another unit). The committee goes through bias awareness training with HR.  The committee reviews all the applications and discusses them. In the searches I’ve been involved with, we go around the table and discuss each candidate and generally rate them as a yes, maybe, or no, though there is no formal rubric for this.  We go through the yes’s and maybe’s and narrow down to a few people we want to bring for a phone screening.  After the phone screening we narrow the finalists who will be invited for a full day interview.  The full day interview includes interviews and lunches/events with various configurations of staff from various units.  The committee collects feedback from staff on the candidate.  The committee meets to make a decision.  It’s generally after the full-day interview when we check references for the candidate we want to make the offer to.  HR reaches out to make the offer and handles the salary negotiations, sharing info about benefits, etc. 

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

Their cover letter was exceptionally well-written and told a compelling story about their career and why they were a great fit for the position.  It was truly impeccably written and the entire application package included a good mix of quantitative info (# of collections worked on, quantifying budget and workflow efficiencies) and more qualitative information about what they enjoyed about the work, their working style, and what it’s like to have them as a colleague.  One thing that really impressed me was that the cover letter included tidbits of how their colleagues would describe them and their accomplishments.  “I’m well-known within the department for my XYZ skills.  My colleagues have asked me to review documentation because of my expertise, and I am frequently asked to liaise with XYZ committees and units.  One colleague described me as “our resident XYZ expert.”  That kind of thing. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If it’s clear from the CV and/or cover letter that they do not understand the job they’re applying for.  Something like applying for a cataloging position and spending the entire cover letter talking about how much they want to focus on exhibits and instruction. 

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

Honest assessment of their working style – not in terms of productivity but things like preference for oral vs. written communication, their preferred management style, the type of training they need and how they would like it delivered.  In my experience people are so eager to please that you can’t get a good sense of this from the questions we ask.  There are lots of vague answers which makes it difficult to gauge the type of training and onboarding they would actually need and whether it’s realistic for us to provide that in the way that would make them most likely to succeed. 

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 enough research about basic subject knowledge and core competencies for the position.  Not anticipating or being prepared for behavioral type questions “tell us about a time when…” “Tell us how you would hypothetically handle this situation…” 

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

Yes, we do Zoom interviews.  It can be hard to get the same degree of connection, so it can feel a little awkward.  Not much specific advice but don’t be afraid to ask for questions or clarifications.  

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?

This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I honestly don’t have much advice for paraprofessionals or folks in this situation because I think the problem is absolutely on employers and hiring managers, not on the applicants themselves.  If you’re switching between library types you can definitely emphasize the functions which are the same and the skills that are transferrable.  If you’re a paraprofessional you can emphasize the degree to which you worked independently, and perhaps any areas where you have leadership or were asked to consult or offer your advice on workflows, documentation, etc.  Those are both indications of professional growth and expertise and ability to move into a professional 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?

HR does a training about this but in my opinion it is inadequate. 

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

I love when candidates have done a bit of research and ask about specific initiatives going on at the library, if they have a sense of recent projects we’ve done or know what our standards and workflows are, at least at a very surface level.  I also like questions about training and onboarding and the possibilities for cross-training and professional development.  It’s good when someone shows initiative and interest in a particular area, a willingness to be more involved professionally, or even offers feedback or suggestions if we’ve mentioned a particular challenge or ongoing issue.  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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

Job postings and position descriptions are a major problem.  They need to be clearer, more specific, and more transparent about a lot of things. I’ve personally applied for jobs where the job description listed every possible archives/library function under the sun, it seemed like a generalist job with “additional duties as assigned” thrown in for good measure, only to get to the interview and realize that the employer had a very specific focus for the job (95% one function or task) and they use a boilerplate job desc or just include all those other things so you can’t make the case that you’re being given tasks outside your scope.  Also, be transparent about salary, benefits, hours, and onsite vs remote work time from the get go.  

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

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

I want to hear criticality from candidates, it’s a form of problem solving, but I do not want constant, unproductive negativity.

This former salesgirl, librarian, and sixth-grade school teacher has been repairing and servicing cars which used to be only open jobs for men. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

Title: Curator of Special Collections and Archives

Titles hired: Processing Archivist, Dance Archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

For staff, there is a posting that is reviewed prior to posting by supervisor and HR director, then posted to a variety of library and state job boards. The committee reviews all applicants for qualifications (req or preferred) and decides on a pool to interview virtually. The committee does virtual interviews with candidates, and decides on the candidate they would like to make an offer to, after checking references of the top candidate/s. They make a verbal offer contingent on a background check. The candidate, supervisor, and hr director discuss salary and a pay rate in the posted range is decided upon and if the candidate accepts, a formal offer letter with a start date is created and signed. The faculty process is similar but far more involved, and has 2 rounds of final interviews, one that is short, and a final that is the equivalent of half a day (and still virtual). The committee brings the final candidates to campus after the offer has been made, and the candidate decides after the visit.

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

Framing challenges positively, actually speaking to the position in the application materials.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Indicators that someone is overly critical in unproductive ways. I want to hear criticality from candidates, it’s a form of problem solving, but I do not want constant, unproductive negativity.

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

How they treat people who are more vulnerable than they are.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

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

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

Not speaking to the position announcement, being too general.

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

The usual. Make sure we can hear 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?

All leadership in all roles is relevant. A LOT of people who have never directly supervised people have leadership experience, from school, from life. Writing documentation, training, being a ‘team lead.’ Use it. Play it up.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

We don’t de-identify application materials, and should.

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

What kind of support they can/should expect.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

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

Benefits. They vary a lot and may not be a good fit for you

Photograph of Dr. Wayne C. Grover, Archivist of the United States, and Dr. Luther Evans, Librarian of Congress, Unveiling the Shrine. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ (Corporate) Archives

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Associate archivist, information architect

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 

√ References 

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

After applying online, candidates are narrowed down by recruitment and the supervisor of the role. Depending on the role, there’s the recruitment interview, supervisor interview, and the team interview. A selection is made and the offer stands for a few weeks

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

They had a detailed plan, as if they already had the job.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Rudeness or disrespectful of team mates 

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

How they will communicate when stressful personal matters are affecting their work and how we can support them

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Not preparing their own questions

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

Yes, to not stress out about your background environment if you couldn’t find a peaceful place. Sometimes, homes are chaotic

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?

Apply it to the role. There’s always transferable skills

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Only brought up when there’s an offer or is asked during the interview.  

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

Recruitment goes through training and we’re audited by a 3rd party

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

Benefits. They vary a lot and may not be a good fit for you

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western 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, Archives, Urban area, Western US

Confident, energetic, focused, poised

Photograph of Dr. Hermann Robinton, Assistant to the State Librarian, Albany, New York, Turning over to Dr. Wayne C. Grover, Archivist of the United States, Some of New York’s Most Treasured Documents to be Preserved and Rehabilitated for Display on New York’s Freedom Train. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library

Title: Head of Special Collections

Titles hired include: Archivist (I-III), Lead Archivist, Librarian (I-IV), Senior Library Specialist

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 

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ 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:

Referred applications from (non-library) HR sent to hiring manager. Revise/update job posting and interview questions. Select applicants for interview. Interview with a panel. Score and select candidates for either an offer or second round interviews (dependent on position). Reference check, including request for copies of transcripts. HR completes background check and offer.

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

Confident, energetic, focused, poised, had clearly done their research about the organization and the position.

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

Workplace preferences and current work/professional priorities

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

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

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

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

Not researching the organization, not being  familiar with the job posting

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

Yes. Test out your setup ahead of time. Just like with in-person presentations, have a back up plan.

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?

Involvement in the library professional associations, volunteer work in the areas of interest, educational training and development (from full degree program to one-time workshops)

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?

Required training and completion of acknowledgment form before joining a hiring panel

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 a typical workday for this position? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore  

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, Archives, Public, Southwestern US, Urban area

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

We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible

Archivist Sara Jackson. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library 

Title: library trustee and retired special librarian

Titles hired include: YA, PT and FT Children’s, Tech Services, Adult Services, Admin

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

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

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Job description (usually Union affiliated) must be approved by City as well as Union, job is advertised locally and on regional boards, resumes are reviewed by Lib Director and Head of HR to decide on interviews; interviews take place with Director, and relevant team members, sometimes reviewed by Trustees depending on level

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

Articulate, asked good questions, expressed genuine interest in position and also in growth in the organization, good skill set beyond just MLS skills

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Either on Zoom or in person, shows up in unprofessional dress, difficult expressing themselves when asked questions (not including nervousness), stumped to describe strengths and weaknesses or an important accomplishment or learning experience at previous job

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

Are they actually a good teammate; are they a responsible/reliable individual

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

Showing up without having done basic homework about the organization

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

Yes, same reasons as in question 8 (Think about the last candidate who really wowed you, on paper, in an interview, or otherwise. Why were they so impressive?) and question 9 (What are your instant dealbreakers?). We don’t expect people to be able to isolate themselves at home for a Zoom call depending on their personal situation so we are prepared to be flexible.  

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?

There are lots of relevant skills learned in non-library related jobs so it is important for a candidate to describe these and do their best to relate them to the job on offer.  Often parapro or pre-pro experience is like an entry level professional so I don’t look down on people who don’t have the degree.  An expressed desire to get a credential is important though it depends on the job.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

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

As a govt. organization and personally we are committed to a diverse workforce that mirrors the demographics of our city and we value the differing points of view that employees can bring to the table.  Given the lack of diversity in many MLS programs and libraries of all types, there is still a lot of discrimination in hiring, conscious or otherwise.

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

Questions about expectations not explicit in job description; also probing about how team dynamics work, any political or other issues that are involved that could impact the library, opportunities for growth if contribution is proven so how regular are performance reviews and who does them. Perhaps even typical frustrations experienced on the job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

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, Archives, Northeastern US, Public, Urban area

I am always impressed when someone asks about disaster preparedness

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

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Other: Museum

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Assistant Archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

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

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

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