Category Archives: Instruction

Having Multiple Views on Each Candidate Helps Weed People Who Are Inappropriate for Our Culture

Last days of the Old Library in the Old Building, London School of Economics, 1978This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at a library with 0-10 staff members.
 

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

1. Strong customer service skills –we are very small, so we don’t have the division of labor that larger libraries do.  Everyone does  reference and everyone does circ, so they absolutely must be capable of maintaining a positive relationship with patrons.
2. Strong technical skills, including library software, troubleshooting, and even a little cataloging.
3. The interest in developing teaching/training programs, and the ability to perform them.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

Lack of interest or bad attitude about working with the public. We’ve had staffers in the past who see public-facing work as beneath them, and that absolutely does not work for us. Our library Dean works hands on with patrons, and so does everyone else.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

General statements that you are a “hard worker” or “good teacher.” I like to see concrete projects, accomplishments, statistics, etc.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ As many as it takes, but shorter is better

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ No

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ I don’t care

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

I like people to be honest and open. You can easily tell if someone is simply parroting their prepared notes for an interview; preparation is good, but I want to see you think on your feet as well. Reference specific accomplishments and specific scenarios you’ve experienced.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

I’ve been really turned off by over-aggressive candidates (those who call multiple times after applying or after an interview, when they’ve been given a clear schedule for the next steps).

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

We’ve become much better at vetting candidates by having them interview with multiple people (not necessarily several interviews, but having, for example, two people sit on the phone screen and two different people sit in an in-person). Having multiple views on each candidate helps weed people who are inappropriate for our culture.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Cataloging/Technical Services, Circulation, Instruction, Original Survey, Public Services/Reference

We’re Hiring a Person, Not a Robot

Brian Hunter, 1984, Asst Librarian, Slavonic Collections, London School of EconomicsThis anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee at a library with 0-10 staff members.



What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

1. Do their skills match what we’re looking for?
2. Will they fit into our culture?  Do they play well with others?
3. Do they appear smart enough to learn what they don’t know?

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

Application packet: poor grammar or spelling, not matching the cover letter/resume to the position.  To be honest, most cover letters are boring – they all sound the same.  Add some personality, use some humor.  We’re hiring a person, not a robot.

Interview process: nervous gestures/laughter/habits.  We just disregarded a candidate because she began the answers to every question during the phone interview with a squeaky “sure.” Dressing inappropriately.  We’re located in a northern climate with lots of snow – don’t wear high heels.  I know you want to impress but practicality is the best image to put forth.  Investigate where you’re going – is it hot?  Cold?  Windy?  Plan ahead; it proves you’re paying attention.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

The same old boilerplate language: “I look forward to hearing from you;” “I believe I would be a good candidate because . . .” etc.  Be a real person.  Stand out.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

Not resumes but I wish cover letters addressed why someone chose this profession in general and this position in specific.  Everyone “just wants a job,” but why should we give you this job?

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ As many as it takes, but shorter is better

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ No preference, as long as I can open it.

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care.

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ I don’t care.

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

Be articulate, intelligent, funny.  Demonstrate you can fit into a small library, be a team player.  Be honest.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

Being surprised at basic questions.  If the position is Public Services in an academic library expect to be asked about information literacy assessment, teaching approaches, etc.
Being unprepared.  If you’re doing a presentation using your own technology make sure it works beforehand.

How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

It hasn’t.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

We’ve hired many times since I’ve been at my institution and the one thing every person who landed the job had in common is that they had personality.  Don’t be afraid to laugh, make a joke, ask a stupid question.  As I said above, we’re hiring a person, not a robot.  Let us know who you are.  That’s just as important as what you can do.

One thing I forgot to add – another piece of advice: be assertive.  Don’t say “I think I’d be a good fit” or “I believe I can do the job” etc.  Say “I can” and “I know.”  Show confidence even if you don’t completely believe it.  It’s a tired old saying but still true – if you think you can you will.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Academic, Instruction, Original Survey, Public Services/Reference