Category Archives: Rural area

Ask about a typical day, ask what opportunities exist for advancement

Ryan McCrory is a historian of European Intellectual History with over 20 years of library experience in academic and public libraries, as far-flung as the University of Washington Libraries, Seattle Public Library, and Lititz Public Library.  

He is active in a variety of library organizations, and also serves on the Board of Directors of Hosting Solutions and Library Consulting.

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

Post job ad, receive and read applications, contact prospective candidates for interviews, interview and evaluate, make job offer. I do or assign each of these steps.

Titles hired include: Circulation Supervisor, Circulation Clerk, Maintenance

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: Executive Director

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

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?

Clearly articulated why they were interested in this particular job and had a clear understanding of what the job actually was.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No

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

Does their work match their words

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?

Try to say what they think is wanted, instead of just speaking honestly.

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

We could, but we haven’t had the need. Make sure they test out the audio before the interview. If I can’t hear them effectively, I’m not going to remain engaged well enough to give them a proper interview

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

Make me understand that they have people skills, can work with many types of people, are adaptable when necessary, and can think on their feet effectively.

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 are in a pretty homogenous area, so we don’t attract a lot of diversity. I think even prospective employees would have a hard time seeing themselves as working for us – we probably don’t appear as inclusive as we are. I don’t have an easy answer to fix that, but do try and make sure that our programming and collections give the sense that we are open to all.

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

Ask about a typical day, ask what opportunities exist for advancement. Ask how we would view someone not looking for advancement. Ask questions that would let them know what they are in for.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Not really. There may be occasions for it, but very few

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 10-50 staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Rural area, Suburban area

You have to know yourself before you know what you’re looking for

A graduate of Kenyon College and Case Western Reserve University, Joan Baldwin is Curator of Special Collections for The Hotchkiss School where she works under the umbrella of the School’s Library. In 2020/21 she served as its Interim Director, serving as point person during the search for a new director. 

The co-author of Leadership Matters: Leading Museums in the Age of Discord, and Women and Museums: Lessons from the Workplace, she has spent her career in the museums,museum service organizations and libraries. 

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

Either as lead or as a team member craft job description, develop questions, participate in interviews. 

Titles hired include: Director, cataloguer, Circulation desk

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Paper can be deceptive. Interviewing is a dialogue and sometimes what seems like perfection on paper falls apart in conversation. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Someone who says they won’t or can’t do tasks everyone is asked to do. 

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?

They are too buttoned up and give pat answers or they don’t ask the kind of questions that make you think they care about your organization. 

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

Only during Covid. Make sure your IT works. Don’t carry your phone around the room. Your interviewers will feel dizzy.

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?

Concentrate on skills learned and qualities developed. Demonstrate some humility. The fact that you love books isn’t enough. Are you a good team player? Do you like people, college students or teens or whoever the organization defines as its audience? Enough to deal with them on their worst day?

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?

Names are removed in first reading so resumes are read blind. They pronouns used. DEI program part of every interview and much more.

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

Too often candidates either ask questions based on minutiae on our website rather than questions about how things actually happen—like how ideas develop.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

Note: although as an academic library we are part of a faculty/staff of 500+

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

You have to know yourself before you know what you’re looking for.

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 0-10 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, Rural area

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Coming to an interview and asking no substantive questions.

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

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

Leave a comment

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

It’s important that candidates know we are part of active unions governed by collective bargaining agreements, and that we are state workers.

Headshot of Jamie Taylor in front of a white board, wearing a bike cap

Jaime Taylor is the Discovery and Resource Management Systems Coordinator at UMass Amherst. Her professional interests include the racialized and gendered nature of librarianship, rethinking librarian education, flattening institutional structures beyond what is currently fashionable, and providing library services in unconventional settings.  Her non-professional interests include bicycles, cats, and old houses. 

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

I have chaired two search committees at my current organization. At my library, hiring is done via committees, which work with library admin to conduct the search & interview process, then make recommendations to the hiring authority (that is, the Dean of Libraries) about which candidate to offer the position to. Committees have 3-5 members, and include both librarians and paraprofessional staff, per our union contracts. For librarian positions, we usually have a phone interview round & then a finalist round of on-campus, full-day interviews, including a presentation by the candidate to library staff. We have recently begun revamping our processes with a DEI/justice lens, and so this process is under renovation. 

Titles hired include: ILS/LSP administrator; collections analysis librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel 

Note: The committee makes recommendations, but the Dean of Libraries has the final decision.

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

They had thorough answers to questions about soft skills — the why & how questions; questions about justice, inclusion & equity; and demonstrated through their answers introspection about their work. They showed a growth mindset, through the research & other professional development they do, as well as through their interests inside & outside the library. They showed interest in cross-departmental connections & shared library/university governance. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Since I work for the state & hire other state workers, if a candidate does not meet the minimum requirements listed in the job description I *cannot* hire them, even if they make a very compelling argument that would be convincing in another setting.

Displays of subtle or overt bias or discrimination, especially against existing library staff. I have hired a young trans woman, for example, and we have workers of color and queer workers thorughout the library. I will not endanger my coworkers through my hiring decisions.

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

I wish I had better ways of sussing out which candidates will actually be able to quickly grow into a role that is a step up the career ladder or involves a new skillset. I’ve had libraries take that chance on me, and I think it worked out well for both me and the institution, so I’d like to be able to extend the same when I’m doing the hiring. Anyone can say that they are lifelong learners & relish a challenge, but it’s harder to concretely prove that someone will be successful at something they don’t yet know how to do.

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

Note: Two pages max each for resume/CV & cover letter is probably the sweet spot for early to mid-career positions. In a digital environment, keeping each to only one page isn’t important.

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

Not answering the questions I am actually asking! Please find a way to give a substantive answer to my actual question, even if you don’t have the particular qualification I am asking about. I want to hear specificity and details to know that you know what you are talking about.

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

We are actively trying to make this as equitable and stress-free as possible! As long as we can hear each other, it’s all good.

Virtual or phone interviews make it much easier to have notes on hand to refer to as you speak — take advantage of that!

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 a convincing argument that your skills & experience translate. Tell me why it makes sense. Be confident in them and sell it to me. Customer service experience is always relevant, for example, even if you are only communicating with coworkers.

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 have rewritten job descriptions to allow for more kinds of experience to be applicable. We actively advertise in places that are relevant to wider, more diverse audiences. I personally cultivate a diverse professional network & use it when hiring. We have an orientation session for the search committee at the beginning of the process to reinforce methods of bias reduction & have checklists & exemplars to refer to. 

But, since the library is largely staffed by white people, the collective networks of staff are mostly also white. We see names & other possible ethnic identifiers on applications. We are currently understaffed & in a rush to hire, so we may not think we have the time to slow down a process enough to give it proper attention with an anti-bias lens.

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

Please ask something, anything! It looks bad if a candidate has zero questions. Ask us about the culture and supervision style of the unit the position is in. Ask us about what kind of professional development opportunities there are. Ask us why we chose to work at this library. Ask us what exciting projects or changes are on the horizon. Use your questions to show us that you are curious & forward thinking & are aware of trends in the library world.

It’s important that candidates know we are part of active unions governed by collective bargaining agreements, and that we are state workers. These two facts govern the choices a candidate has once they’ve been offered a position – negotiation, selection of benefits. Candidates should also know that unions are only as strong as their members, so expect to be involved in making our institution the best workplace it can be. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Note: New England rural, not flyover state rural, though.

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? 

Don’t apply for positions that aren’t a good match to your experience & skills. It’s a waste of your time & ours. Instead, spend more time honing your application materials & interview skills for positions that are a close fit.

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, Academic, Northeastern US, Rural area

What do you expect from an organization that hires you?

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

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

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

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

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

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization: 

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

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

√ References 

√ In-person, structured interview 

√ Demonstration/task (teaching, storytime, etc) 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers? 

No 

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

The candidate’s true personality and work ethic. 

How many pages should each of these documents be? 

Cover Letter: √ Only one! 

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

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

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

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

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

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

Decisiveness in their answer. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information? 

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics 

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like? 

√ Suburban 

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual? 

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization? 

√ 11-50 

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

Leave a comment

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

I build opportunities to discuss failure into all of our interviews

Headshot of Christian Zabriskie. A kid sits on his shoulders reading a book

Christian Zabriskie is the Executive Director of the Onondaga County Public library that serves the City of Syracuse and supports 22 independent member libraries in Central NY. 

He is also the Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite which he founded with business partner Lauren Comito in 2010. He and Lauren were Library Journal’s 2020 Librarians of the Year. 

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

We use Civil Service Lists to determine reachable candidates then interview based on resume from the list of candidates we are given.

Titles hired: Director of Communication, Programming Coordinator, Director of Operations

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

We use Civil Service Lists to determine reachable candidates then interview based on resume from the list of candidates we are given.

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

They exuded energy, were confident yet self-deprecating, and had a deep knowledge in the area that they wanted to use on a larger canvas…and had good ideas for what that looks like.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Finding fault in colleagues, I build opportunities to discuss failure into all of our interviews. If the applicant cannot see themselves in a failure but pushes it off onto teammates out of the block then they are not a good fit for our organization.

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

Their emotional intelligence

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?

Oversharing and not seeing space for personal growth.

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

No, but I am not opposed to them. Do NOT judge people on their backgrounds! I run a large multi-million dollar library, my background through most of the crisis was a mess of reports, papers, printouts, and maps. If you looked at it without knowing my background or work habits then it would look like I was a disorganized hoarder.

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?

Speak to the work of the library at a level above the work they are doing now. Get past transactional definitions of the work.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

We work with the local office of diversity. We actively recruit as diverse a pool as is possible.

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

What are you looking for to move your organization forward? Referencing any 1-3 specific programs, locations, or collections that we have. I don’t care about the questions, I care about them doing the work to research our organization.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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?

√ 101-200

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

Bring your brightest energy and passion to the interview. I look for “the bright spark”. I can train staff to do pretty much whatever they need to know to be successful but intellectual curiosity and an agile mind are the essential starting point. Probation is important, give us an idea of what it would be like to work with you not just in this moment but a decade from now.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under 100-200 staff members, Northeastern US, Public, Rural area, Suburban area, Urban area

I like to be surprised by intelligent questions.

A woman shelves books from a cart
Image: Mildred C. Crabtree, a civilian librarian, selects books in the library for distribution to the wards at Kenner Army Hospital. National Archives Catalog.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

Title: Public Services Librarian

Titles hired: Supervisors, Student Library Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ 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

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

If I’m hiring for the library, then I do interviews with the candidate. I have a supervisor with me to ask/answer questions as the perspective worker would either share the role with a supervisor or would be reporting directly to a supervisor.

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

I could tell if they put a lot of thought into their resume compared to most student employees.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Unwilling attitude.

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

Whether they really do have a strong work ethic and are willing to do the things that are listed on the job description.

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 being able to come up with more than just “I don’t know”. I don’t mind uncertainty, but I at least want a “in this situation, I might, or I would probably . . . “

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

Yes. Nothing specific .

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 look for talent in those who work for me and try to give them opportunities to progress when they open.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

I look at resumes and experience and try to look for unique characteristics, actions, or experiences.

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

I don’t have a definite answer. I like to be surprised by intelligent questions. I like them to know that they are being paid to work but that we like to create a fun and friendly atmosphere for employees, as well as library clients.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western 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

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

Leave a comment

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

You could accidentally have a pet arrive in your interview, which will always be a bonus for me

Headshot of Ben Van Gorp

Ben Van Gorp still feels like a fairly new Librarian, but has spent the last 4 years on various hiring panels and committees for his suburban/rural public library system. Currently a Manager, IT & Digital Experience his portfolio includes managing early career librarians through his library’s internship programs and ideally transitioning them to full-time and meaningful work in public libraries. 

Dad of two kids under three and two cats, he is a firm proponent of flexible work and supporting those early in their careers to improve our profession.

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

A hiring manager creates and sends posting for approval and selects a second management/admin to sit on interviews. The hiring manager vets resumes alongside the second manager/admin and selects candidates to interview. Interview guide created/updated by hiring manager and collaboratively approved by second. Several questions sent to candidates in advance. Interview questions scored, alongside items like fit. Once the first choice for the position is selected, references are requested, then assuming no issues arise an offer letter is given.

Titles hired include: Library intern, IT Intern, Digital Literacy Specialist,

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Other: Program outlines/pitch

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?

Cover letters and CVs are good to get in the door, and efforts to research what the library is doing, adding some design elements (especially if the position involves marketing), are also good, but I think the most impressive candidates wow with their prep. They know their good examples from their work history and don’t overuse them. They have their plan going in and the confidence is visible. This is particularly evident during things like program pitches where even a bit of extra research can elevate your work. Similarly, asking follow up questions, or even asking questions in advance, show you are interested in learning whether the position makes sense for you. If you are happy with the role, you are more likely to perform the role better for us.  

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lack of awareness of what the position entails, particularly if connected to the phrase “oh I’m not really interested in that.” Lack of experience in an area isn’t always a problem especially if there is a willingness to learn, but an off handed dismissal is usually a red flag.

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

Possibly career expectations in more of a long term view. Sometimes a job is a stepping stone or a way to pay the bills and that is perfectly valid, but knowing if say a person wants to eventually be an admin, or a community librarian, or a collections manager can really give me a better idea of what they identify as interests. Knowing their long term interests match our interests in the position is a huge plus.

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?

Being afraid to ask clarifying questions or making clarifying statements. I do not expect every manager to have the same priorities as I do, and clarifying questions can sometimes provide insight into what the committee is looking for. As an example, I personally think expecting policy knowledge from applicants is unrealistic, but I’ve been on hiring committees where referring to policy was scored much higher. Candidates who asked about policies in place fared better in these cases, because they were showing a deeper interest in the question. It also has the benefit of giving you time to respond and ensure you are responding to the question in your best way.

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

We do, and I will always support it as well. However, you are missing out on in person body language, so clarity and amped up responses are sometimes required. Also you have to be comfortable and confident in asking clarifying questions, as connections fail, lag happens, and your hiring committee may have as bad a connection as we do in rural Ontario. Personally I don’t think cameras are absolutely required, but being on camera does help with communicating. Also it means you could accidentally have a pet arrive in your interview, which will always be a bonus for me as an interviewer.

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?

Disclaimer: I have not been on a hiring committee for a manager level or Librarian level position, so I will be answering for people relying on non-library work. 

I am process driven, so showing areas where processes were improved will always be valuable experience in my mind. Particularly for my system, demonstrations of initiative, like a successful idea pitch are always good experiences. Finally, for people entering public libraries any customer experience is valuable experience. More important to me is having an awareness of the duties of the chosen role and then connecting your work history. Best advice is to reach out, using mentoring programs or resources like alimb.ca to get a better idea of the expectations for this kind of position outside of just divining from the posting.

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 are a smaller library system, so there are many areas for improvement. Our biggest development here is providing some questions in advance. This really helps remove nerves and lets people plan and prepare their best response, and I will continue to push for all questions to be sent to prospective candidates. We also do rely on  seconds vet resumes with the hiring manager and having seconds score with the manager to ensure different viewpoints, but I am fully aware that still allows for institutional biases. That said, we are showing improvement in this area in the past 5 years, and hopefully we will soon see anonymizing and randomizing of candidate information. 

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

Day in the life questions are always good, as are favourite parts of the system or library, but asking about library initiatives and plans tend to be the most productive. Most of my hiring is in programming roles, so asking about upcoming programs and initiatives not only lets us brag (we do all love to brag), but gives you a window into our priorities.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural

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?

In Canada the library world is small, so making connections, even cold emails using resources like alimb.ca are incredibly valuable. More often than not people will go out of their way to support/promote you, and having your name being recognized as someone seriously looking at roles in your system will always give you a leg up.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Canada, Public, Rural area, Suburban area

Candidates who can tie any previous work experience to aspects of the job available should be given serious consideration

Photo of Celia finishing first in her age group at a half marathon

This interview is with Celia Rabinowitz, who has been Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College (NH) since 2014. She also manages general education, digital learning, faculty enrichment, and undergraduate research. Celia has a MLS from Rutgers University and a PhD (in Theology) from Fordham University. Prior to Keene State, Celia worked in the Hilda Landers Library at St. Mary’s College in Maryland from 1992-2014.

You may remember Celia from her contributions to the Further Questions weekly feature. I am very grateful for her willingness to share her insight and expertise.

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

Permission to fill the position is approved by senior administrator. For library faculty a search committee is formed (the dean is not a member). The committee meets with HR to review guidelines and write a job ad (with dean approval). The search committee reviews applications using an online system to submit ratings linked to job requirements. Phone interviews for a first round. On campus interviews for finalists including meetings with the dean and provost. References are checked. Search committee makes a recommendation to the dean. The dean consults with the provost before an offer is made.

Titles hired include: Collections Strategies & Services, ILL coordinator, Access Services Manager

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Other: Provost or other principal administrator

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

√ Other: Not all items are required at the time of application

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?

In addition to having good qualifications, the person used the cover letter to talk about why they were interested in this job at our library and institution.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Candidates who don’t acknowledge the type of institution we are (public, liberal arts), whose cover letters appear very generic, have an uphill climb to convince me we should consider them.

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

I wish there was a way for candidates to feel secure asking about concerns they have regarding a position – about their qualifications, about campus climate, etc.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

CV: √ As many as it takes, I love reading

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

Being afraid to ask provocative or probing questions.

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

Our last hire was before the pandemic and we did everything in person. I’m not sure if we’ll return to that. We are unlikely to be able to do any hiring for the next several years.

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?

Candidates who can tie any previous work experience to aspects of the job available should be given serious consideration, particularly for entry-level positions. My advice is to own the change you want to make, don’t apologize for it.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: It’s usually part of the online job description. Faculty are members of a bargaining unit so starting salaries are set in the CBA, but can also be negotiated.

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

The search committee is required to talk with the Associate VP for Equity and Inclusions who will also review pools of candidates. Efforts are made to advertise in places that will reach wide audiences. The biggest challenge is our geographical location.

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

Candidates for library faculty positions could ask about expectations for tenure and promotion, about mentoring opportunities, about professional development support. They should know about the impact of staff and budget reductions over the past few years on the campus in general and the library particularly.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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

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

Leave a comment

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

Please wear all your clothes (pants, too!)

Librarian Marie Bracey and another woman look at a book at a circulation desk
Image: Librarian,_Marie_Bracey,_1952, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Director

Titles hired include: All of them from Page to Associate Director

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ 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

√ 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:

I place an ad in the local paper and on indeed. From applications a pool of applicants is selected. The Manager who will be supervising the new hire and I as director meet and discuss. Interviews are set. The same questions are asked of each interviewee. Depending on the position, a second interview may be set. All candidates receive an interview or letter letting them know the status of the position. Those who were interviewed always get a call in addition whether they were hired or not.

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

They seemed together and organized, not desperate. They asked questions when they did not understand something. That is not to say they were not nervous. I have had extremely nervous candidates do very well in interviews.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

People who are not really interested in the job they are interviewing for.

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

Actually, part of the reason I usually have two or more people in on the interview is staff sees things I don’t or confirms what I notice. And when a manager makes a call, I let them try someone out–unless I feel very strongly to the contrary. I have a few new managers here, and they need to make supported mistakes.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this

Resume: √ We don’t ask for this

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Being late or talking too much–rambling.

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

Yes. I’m horribly not judgmental about this. However, try and look as groomed as you would in a regular face to face, please wear all your clothes (pants, too!) and have a plain wall, a potted plant, books, or something behind you. Keep the tv or radio off–housemates (and pets) out of the room. I only say thins because these are my mistakes. I have interviewed people who have rolled out of bed (literally–in their bedroom) and hired them after a second interview because we saw something valuable to the community there.

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?

Know your computer experience–what systems did you work with. What did they do? Did you train people on them. Did you work in retail or customer service? How did you interact with the public? Are you organized. How? Are you familiar with any filing systems? Do you use your library? How? Are you familiar with its shelving system, online catalog, e-materials, anything else it offers? Other work translates well to the library, and we need people from the public sector who understand accounting, marketing, computers, and the like. Be willing to continue your education. I have worked with pages who are now MLS YA librarians, programmers, IT specialists. Managers who have come from marketing and admin assistant positions. All very capable. Several who began as shelvers. I try and cover some of their schooling if I can. Many of them are the next library generation. I need them to be successful here, and go on if necessary to spread the good word.

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 interview anyone qualified. My biggest issues in staffing are people who are retired and looking for part time work (which unfortunately has not worked out in the recent past) and those who think that a rural city is like any other, and do not enjoy living here. I’ll take all comers, they have to accept the place for what it is.

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

What’s the best thing about working here? What is the work environment like? Other than specific duties and hours which are frequently discussed during the interview.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Northern Great Lakes (which sometimes feels like the end of everywhere)

What’s your region like? (Check all that apply)

√ Other: It is a Rural City. 90 miles from the next rural city, but the biggest place with a variety of big box stores (other than Walmart)

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.

2 Comments

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