Category Archives: Special

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.

2 Comments

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

lots of professional activities and a rich life outside of work

[Dorothy Porter, 6/2/70] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Sr Information Professional; training specialist 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ 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

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree 

√ More than one round of interviews 

√ Other: Complete background check 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Recruiter is assigned to various departments.  They screen applicants for their departments and send along CVs of interest.  We choose several and those chosen will meet with various library team members, either 1:1 or in a panel.

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

Understood our industry, was well prepared, had many mutual contacts in the field, lots of professional activities and a rich life outside of work

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No knowledge of our industry and no attempt made to ‘bone up’ prior to the industry 

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

How they handle conflict and uncertainty

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this 

CV: √ Two is ok, but no more 

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

Being unprepared

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

Yes.  Stand up during the interview.  You’ll appear much stronger 

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?

Explore my industry and come up with similarities or develop use cases pertinent to me.

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?

My small group within this huge organization is committed to diversity of all types.  Unfortunately, qualified candidates are often not as diverse as we would like 

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

How will I interact with each team member; what are my opportunities for professional growth; how does our group fit into the ‘big picture’ of the company; is this a new position or backfill

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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?

√ Other: 50,000 worldwide 

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.

2 Comments

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Northeastern US, Special, Urban area

Please be aware that job duties vary so much that it is not enough to say/write the titles of the positions held – convey the range, extent

Mrs. Joan Fertig, Hungarian-born librarian at the Westinghouse plant. LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

√ Other: Government Library – State Library

Title: Assistant Director

Titles hired include: Librarian, Senior Librarian, Research Program Specialist, Student Assistant, Intern

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Written Exam

√ 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:

If I have a current position vacancy in my unit, I craft a current job description with details on duties and responsibilities submit it to the director and then HR to review/approve before the recruitment plan is crafted with HR assistance – how long to keep it open, screening criteria grid  to apply for applicants, interview questions (with suggested responses, scoring grid), where to post position availability.

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

They were able to communicate their ideas and response to the questions in a way that highlighted their strengths, skills, experience – and even when they didn’t have specific experience or familiarity with the question or topic, were able to translate/bridge similar qualities and experiences

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Too shallow or glib responses that do not address the questions asked

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

How well they interact with colleagues, how they act under pressure and with multiple and often conflicting deadlines

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?

Fail to fully answer/address the question asked with sufficient details and information

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

Yes, all have been handled virtually since COVID first prevented us from working onsite, mid-March 2020. The first few were conducted in Teams and Zoom, with audio only enabled (cameras for applicant and panelist turned off). In this instance, vocal variety, enunciation, level, tone are big factors. Pre-COVID, we had done a couple of interviews virtually with cameras on – lighting, presentation, background noises will be playing a factor along with the others noted for interviews with the camera off. In both cases, it is important for candidates to present their best selves with thoughtful responses.

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?

Be able to communicate how and why their experience relates to the job duties and responsibilities of the position they are interviewing for. To connect the dots and map it out explicitly so that the interviewer(s) are able to understand  – if they have similar experiences or skills-set in other jobs even if the job titles or industries or settings are different – doing so helps put things into context and makes the roadmap much clearer.

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?

Audio only virtual interviews, review of interview questions to ensure all are objective and job-related, interview panel includes HR rep. The state civil service system can be mystifying and a bit of a challenge to navigate and time consuming process – it is not a discriminatory practice or process on its merits, yet those responsible for hiring are interviewing candidates, and how they judge/score their responses might be subject to prejudice, and they are faced with choosing among comparable candidates after the interviews and making decisions about which one would ‘fit’ in with the staff, and this is another area where bias and discrimination could take place (whether implicit or explicit).

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

Seems like it would vary by the candidate – whatever is important to them should be raised/asked. This is a two-way interview, and those on the hiring panel are/may be colleagues. At the very least, ask a question (or two) that shows the candidates have done a little homework – checked out the company and or unit website or conducted a search to see what is being talked about or shared (program news, updates) and plans for the future.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: My entire unit is working virtual; and it varies throughout based on work responsibilities

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 be aware that job duties vary so much that it is not enough to say/write the titles of the positions held – convey the range, extent. Also, do not dismiss/overlook experiences and skills obtained through volunteer work, either with a professional association (library or information pro) or personal association

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Special, Urban area, Western US

We are committed to the Mansfield Rule

[Library of Congress. Charge desk (Librarian Ainsworth Rand Spofford’s table)] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Manager, Information Resource Center

Titles hired include: Research specialist, assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application 

√ Resume 

√ References 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Hiring goes through HR, but they essentially send me all applicants to review. While I make all decisions, HR is also involved in the interviewing process, and handles things like background checks and references. The interviewing process is generally 1.5 hours, with the first half being myself and HR, and the second half being peers of the interviewee.

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

They were impressive because they had a deep knowledge and interest in the field. It was clear they weren’t just applying for every job that they could, but only those that really met what they were looking for.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

I have not yet had one.  

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 being prepared. Know the role you are interviewing for, and the organization. 

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

We have, but rarely.

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

We often hire librarians like this, as our field (legal) is very small in our community. Make it clear that you have an actual interest in the area.

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 are committed to the Mansfield Rule (guidelines for hiring in law firms), as well as posting jobs within various diversity groups within our region.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

Leave a comment

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

As of April 2022, it’s part of the job ad

[Librarian Putnam at Sesquicentennial reception, 4/24/1950] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Vice President

Titles hired include:Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Strategic Intelligence Data Analyst 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume 

√ References 

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Don’t know

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

I am at a large corporation. Our department writes a job description and gives it to HR, who advertises for the position and screens applicants. The position’s supervisor interviews candidates, and if she likes them I interview them as head of the department. Once we decide who we want to hire, we let HR know and they make the job offer and handle the rest.

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

She came to the interview very prepared. She prepared a few PPT slides to share a project she had handled at a previous position, and spoke to how that would support our position.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Imperiousness, indecisiveness 

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

How interested they are in the job; are they applying for lots of positions or were they selective about ours

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?

Come unprepared 

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

Have your video camera on if possible 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

 √ Other: As of April 2022, it’s part of the job ad 

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?

√ 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.

Leave a comment

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

Their ability to perform searches rather than talk about searching

Photograph of the Librarian’s Conference, July 1, 1950. LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Librarian

Titles hired include: Librarians (research), Library Technicians

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume 

√ References 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Develop position description for approval by senior company officer and by HR; ad posted; HR screens out resumes; library reviews remaining resumes; HR screens selected candidates; library interviews those who pass screening and makes selection; HR checks references for selected candidate; HR extends offer

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

Skill set; ability/interest in various library services; thoughtful responses; could help library grow services

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Long, rambling answers; not responding to question asked; unable to offer examples of how they performed/handled work in past positions; critical of past work environment; critical of junior employees; no research into the organization before the interview

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

Their ability to perform searches rather than talk about searching

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?

Focus on their past position rather than their fit for advertised position

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

Yes – treat as a regular in-person interview even though alone – there are others in the conversation.

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?

Demonstrate relevant experience such as present examples of transferable skills that illustrate they understand the position requirements

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Desired salary is a question in the HR screening interview and the HR rep can provide the salary range

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

Expands advertising sources to attract more diverse pool of applicants

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

What does success look like

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Mid-Atlantic 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: small-medium city

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: hybrid

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

To job hunters – explain skills and abilities with examples of actual work

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.

Leave a comment

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

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.

Leave a comment

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

Find a way to connect with the panel even in this situation during informal chat before formal interview starts

Mill Creek, Knott County, Kentucky. This young mountain wife shortly is to become the mother of his first child. The Work Projects Administration’s (WPA) Pack Horse Librarian has for months furnished her with literature on hygiene and the care of infants. She will probably go through her confinement without the aid of expert medical attention, but she will receive the attention of the WPA’s housekeeping aid, if she so desires. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Bibliometrician, Bioinformatician, Data Scientist, Informationist, E-learning Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

HR screens for qualifications and fit with job announcement.  Hiring manager identifies candidates from HR list and forms an interview panel.  Candidates interview virtually and give a 10 minute presentation related to the area for which they are being hired.  Panel gives numeric rating for key competencies covered during interview.  Regardless of panel numbers, hiring manager makes the final decision.

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

Impressive candidates are highly qualified, confident, excellent communicators, and interested in the organization.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Clear when the candidate hasn’t done any background on the organization or the position.

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

How the employee will fit with their colleagues.

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?

Talk too long and don’t read the room.

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

Yes.  Make sure technology is tested and set up for the virtual environment (sound, lighting, background, etc). Find a way to connect with the panel even in this situation during informal chat before formal interview starts.  Even remotely people want to get a sense of your personality.

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 your resume demonstrates impact and success doing what is required for the job being advertised.

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 has EEO rules in place.  Hiring panels are diverse.

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

Ask something that shows you know about the organization and demonstrates your interest in a particular position.  What does success look like in this position?  This gives you an idea of what the expectations and vision are for the group doing the hiring.

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?

√ 11-50 

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

More and more positions in libraries require specialized skills and there may be non-MLIS graduates filling these positions.  Certificates or continued education in specialized areas are increasingly being valued.

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.

Leave a comment

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

don’t look up stuff when answering

Elizabeth H. Bukowsky, a member of the National Archives’ Exhibits and Information staff, standing in front of a National Archives bulletin board exhibit prepared by EI [Exhibits and Information] and LI [Library] and displayed at the meeting of the Special Libraries Association at the Statler Hotel, Washington, DC, June 9-11, 1948. Photo by John Barnhill, NA photographer. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Manager, Facilities and Shared Services

Titles hired include: Senior Information Coordinator; Library Technician;

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Written Exam

√ More than one round of interviews

√ Other: Phone screen

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

I decide someone is needed

I get approval from my manager

I contact HR

I fill out FORMS and FORMS and FORMS with justification

I fill out more FORMS to get job pay range set

HR posts position on job boards, and uses HR software to manage

Resumes are sorted by software and HR (I always ask to see ALL, not just the ones that they think are qualified)

I pick who I want to interview

HR sets up interviews

I fill out more forms to justify my pick

HR offers them the job

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

Understood questions quickly

Easy to speak with

Understood the technology

Second language

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

spelling errors in resume or cover letter

Lack of spoken English

lying

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

not researching the company

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

be on time

don’t read a script

don’t look up stuff when answering

turn off your phone

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada 

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.

Leave a comment

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

I’ve also received resumes that list a spouse and children as accomplishments, and the person’s ability to crack jokes in the office

11/30/44 Librarian – Elizabeth Edwards. doe-oakridge, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Senior Reference Librarian 

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Visitor Services Assistant, Assistant Reference Librarian, Vice President of Development, Reproductions Coordinator 

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

√ 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:

Most hiring is done at the department level. In my department we typically circulate the job description internally, post externally on our website and relevant listservs and job aggregator sites, and accept applications by email/post. The hiring supervisor reviews the applications and shares a short list with the hiring committee. The hiring committee decides whom from that short list to invite for interviews. Interviews are typically about one hour and either happen in person or virtually (during the pandemic we switched to Zoom). Questions are offered in advance (in my department). We then follow up by calling references and finally selecting our top candidates to whom an offer is made.

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

I always appreciate specificity and the ability of a candidate to narrate how their resume experiences brought them to this point in their career and how these experiences connect to the job description. I like evidence that the person has done some homework on our organization and thought about reasons it would be a good fit beyond wages (obviously important). 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If a person fails to write a substantive cover letter I am unlikely to move their candidacy forward. I also dislike overly personal details on a resume, for example I received a resume recently where the applicant included details about their exercise routines and health. I’ve also received resumes that list a spouse and children as accomplishments, and the person’s ability to crack jokes in the office. These feel like inappropriate content for a resume. 

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

Because I am personally interested in hiring candidates who come from varying backgrounds and minoritized communities I often want to know things about personal identity that are not generally safe for candidates to share (chronic illness, queerness, religious background, socioeconomic status for example). I absolutely understand why people choose not to share these details; what I do try to do is be a little vulnerable in interviews about my own identities (mentioning my wife; referring to a chronic health issue) to make it more possible people will share some of those aspects of their own lives. 

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?

Speaking in vague generalities instead of concrete, specific responses. I also dislike over-use of industry specific jargon which can be a cover for simplistic or rote answers that don’t help me understand the candidate’s thinking. 

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

We have since the pandemic began. I don’t find these very different from in person interviews (perhaps since so many of my work meetings happen virtually now too). Being calm in the face of tech glitches and patient with small delays is helpful and demonstrates that the applicant is willing to roll with unexpected changes. 

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 appreciate hearing from these candidates how they see this previous experience building toward what they hope to do in their library career and/or at our specific institution. Hearing them crosswalk their learning helps me understand how they reflect on their work and make decisions about their skills, workplace culture, etc. as they look for compatible work. On some level, we do have t go back to the job description and assess whether a candidate meets required/preferred criteria, but we do try to be flexible and reflect on a person’s full range of experience. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Our department lists the salaries in the job ad. It is inconsistent across the institution. 

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

In our department we try to be transparent and consistent in the hiring process (not ghosting candidates) and we avoid doing outside research beyond the application (e.g. LinkedIn, Google search, etc.) We assess applicants based on their submitted materials in the first round. As we move through the hiring process the committee has active discussions about how to weigh various kinds of diversity of experience in our hiring, understanding how cultural “fit” can shape our priorities in unhelpful ways. 

We are a majority-white, majority straight, majority-abled, professional class staff and in the midst of reckoning with the way our institutional culture is not necessarily equitable or inclusive. We shouldn’t (in my opinion) hire candidates we cannot enable to thrive once in the door. A lot of our current work in this area has to do with making our workplace inclusive for existing as well as future staff. It is slow going. 

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

I am always happy to hear questions from candidates about labor conditions and workplace climate. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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.

Leave a comment

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