Tag Archives: interviewers

You need to follow Strunk & White’s rules for parallel construction. FYI.

View of a Pine Crest School student reading in the library Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1966 or 1967This anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager, a member of a hiring committee, and a library director.  This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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

Ability to do the work, willingness to be a part of a team, and excellent rapport with the patrons we serve.

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

No, not really, but if an application is riddled with typos, grammatical errors and the like, I’m going to knock it out of th [response ends here].

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

I don’t know. I get kind of tired of seeing lists of classes that the applicant took in library school, but I can see where others would find that valuable.

I will say that if you’re using bullet points (and if it’s a resume, you are) then you need to follow Strunk & White’s rules for parallel construction. FYI.

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

If it’s an academic library gig, *everything* goes on the CV.

Library schools need to stop advising graduates to use 2-page resumes. Applicants should be more interesting than can be detailed in just two pages.

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, I want to look at every accomplishment

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ Other: I have no preference as a hiring agent, but I recommend PDF so the applicant can “lock down” the formatting to their tastes.

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?

I don’t know. I think this question assumes that there *is* such a thing as winning someone over, and I’m not sure that’s really true.

That said, acting like you have a big ol’ stick up your butt will almost certainly have the opposite effect, so there’s that.

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

In the past, the directors before me just hired whomever they wanted. I wanted more voices in on the decision, so I always charge a search committee to recruit some candidates, rank their capabilities, and give me some options in hiring. Making the process a collaborative one is the right way to go.

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

Interviews go both ways. It’s as much about finding the right fit for you as us finding the right applicant.

Be patient. The right job is very much worth every bit of your patience in finding it.

Do you hire librarians?  Share your perspective with job hunters by taking this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibsurvey

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

If you have applied to work at the library I know you like books

Interior of Townsville library, ca. 1948This anonymous interview is with a public librarian who has been a hiring manager  and a member of a hiring committee.  This librarian works at a library with 50-100 staff members.

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

1. Ability to do the job
2. Right organizational fit
3. Originality – what can you offer that no one else can?

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

Filling the application form out incorrectly or not signing the application form is a dealbreaker. In an interview, a lack of eye contact is a dealbreaker.

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

I am tired of seeing how much people like books and really want to work at the library. I’m looking for something unique. If you have applied to work at the library I know you like books and I know you want to work for the library.

Also, I’m tired of seeing the same opening sentence on cover letters – “I was excited to learn . . . ” or “I am interested in the . . . ” Find a way to stand out.

I could also do without “references available upon request.” We ask for references on our application form. Why would you then put this statement on a resume?

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

Any work and volunteer experience that is unrelated to the library profession.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

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?

√ As an attachment only

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

1. Be unique
2. Talk about what you are able to offer the library and the community
3. Be enthusiastic
4. Have a question or two to ask at the end of the interview
5. Provide succinct answers that clearly address the questions asked

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

1. Not answering the questions completely
2. Talking too much
3. Showing up late

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

I’ve reduced the number of questions we ask in each interview, gone to second interviews with almost every position we hire, called more references – those provided and those not provided, asked candidates to complete a task during the interview – presentation, project, pre-employment test.

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

Hiring decisions are not made based upon a resume or cover letter. The purpose of these documents is to get you an interview. Take your time and customize your resume and cover letter for the job you applying to. I can spot a resume that is being used for multiple applications from one that was customized. The extra effort almost always results in an interview. Highlight how you specifically meet the job requirements and what you can provide the organization you are applying to. Speak in terms of their interests not yours.

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Filed under 50-100 staff members, Original Survey

Less-competent human resources department, which means our department needs to take more initiative in advertising postings

Australian Institute of Librarians' inaugural meeting at Canberra, August 20, 1937. Photographer A. Collingridge, CanberraThis anonymous interview is with an Academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee.  This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members.

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

people skills, technology skills, intelligence

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

sloppy application, hostility toward patrons

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

links to personal websites/blogs

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

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?

√ As an attachment only

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

Be friendly

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

Be socially inept, show hostility toward people, be arrogant

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

More regimented, with human resources representative at interview, restrictive rules on what we should look at. Insistence upon asking exact same questions of every interviewee. Less-competent human resources department, which means our department needs to take more initiative in advertising postings.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

Love knowledge, love learning, don’t love the box they come in

Librarian's_Desk, Bancroft LibraryThis anonymous interview is with a librarian who works at a public library with 10-50 staff members. This librarian has been a member of a hiring committee.

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

1. Energy
2. Curiosity
3. Willingness to admit there are still things they don’t know about librarianship.

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

Poor grammar and spelling. Those are important parts of librarianship, so I expect people to be able to demonstrate them on a resume and cover letter.

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

“I love books”
I’m assuming you don’t hate books if you are applying for a job here, and “loving books” is about the worst reason to be a librarian I can think of. Love knowledge, love learning, don’t love the box they come in.
“I have clerical experience”
I’m glad you have previous work history, and we can probably use clerical skills, but for the most part this isn’t a clerical heavy job.

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

I wish more people were willing to put interests and hobbies on their resumes. Knowing special interests or areas of expertise can help to develop a strong and balanced team.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

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?

√ Yes

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

√ Both as an attachment and in the body of the email

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

Have a well balanced attitude. Don’t act manic, but don’t be a total reserved bunhead either. I want people who can be professional, but also have passion and enthusiasm for

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

Thinking that this job is just sitting behind a desk. It’s a physically and mentally demanding job.
Thinking that this job is a purely mental exercise in dealing with people who are genuinely interested in learning. You have to deal with a lot of very unpleasant people who don’t want to pay fines, or want to argue about what you have in the collection.

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

We hire many paraprofessionals, and we’ve gone from advertising in general forums (newspapers, job lines, town bulletin boards, etc.) to advertising in and hiring from library schools. We try to get people who are going to school or thinking about going to school for library science so that we can get them some practical work experience in the field.

 

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Original Survey, Public

There have been candidates that have been so dour that we have no interest in them

Hey hey, original survey!  This bad boy is still going, and coming up on two years of collecting responses!  If you are someone who hires librarians, and you want to take this, go here: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibsurvey

Librarian by Flickr user Super Furry LibrarianThis anonymous interview is with someone who works in a school library with 0-10 employees.  When asked, “are you a librarian?” this person responded, “it’s complicated.” This person has been a member of a hiring committee.

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

Someone who smiles and is willing to learn.
An honest resume (not overly inflated)
Someone who understands what the job he/she is applying for.

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

Typos!!!
Also, incomplete applications.
Sounds pretty basic, but people submit some pretty sketchy things.

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

cliches

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

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?

√ As an attachment only

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

Smile!!! There have been candidates that have been so dour that we have no interest in them. Let your personality shine through so that you are memorable. There are many people who can do the job and most people are trainable. We want to find the person who will be enthusiastic and fit in with others.

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

Answering the question with just one sentence. People need to elaborate or give an example of the skill we are looking for. They also need to be careful to not talk too much.
Don’t say, “I would like this part-time position to get my foot in the door.” The position you are applying for is the one you are applying for…not one three years down the road.

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

We cannot ask, but are often curious about lapses in employment. If you volunteer the information it shows that you are up front about things. There is no shame in taking time off to raise a family or take care of parents. We really like giving people a chance to start up again.

Photo: Librarian by Flickr user Super Furry Librarian via Creative Commons License

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Original Survey, School

Make Me Excited about What You Would Do for the Library

Ruth Wikoff, University of Houston's first professional librarian

Remember the original survey?  The one I ran to start this blog?  It’s still open, and a response has trickled in!  (If you hire librarians, and you’ve got something to say about it, the url is: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibsurvey )

This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. This person works at a public library with 100-200 staff members.

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

Enthusiasm for the profession/libraries
Knowledge and skills to perform the task
Creativity and innovation

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

Not completing the application or not addressing the questions.
Trying to give me the answers they think we want to hear or are the standard responses.
Assuming we know what they are refering to in their answers.

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

Resumes and letters that are generic and don’t really describe who they are.
Resumes and letters that don’t address the job applying.

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

What have you really done that you are proud of completing.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

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?

√ Both as an attachment and in the body of the email

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

Make me excited about what you would do for the library.

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

Assume they have the job.
Not give us their A game.
Assume we know the same jargon, information, etc.
Being too casual, especially when an internal canidate.
Not knowing what job you are interviewing for.

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

We have hired some great employees that are making significant changes to the way the library does collection development. All other hires have been internal promotions.

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

Good Luck!

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Original Survey, Public

Make Me Believe You Will Keep That Enthusiasm for at Least a Few Years

Cornelia Maria Clapp (1849-1934)

 

 

This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. This person works at an academic library with 10-50 staff members. 
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

Enthusiasm
Positive personality
Profesionalism

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

Sloppy application
Cockiness
Lethargy

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

…references available upon request…
…unique combination of my education and work experience…

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

Yes, the reason why they want the job they are applying for.

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?

Show me that you really want this job and make me believe you will keep that enthusiasm for at least a few years.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey

That MLS and Undergraduate Degree, Everyone Has One

Librarian's_grave_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1232991

This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. This person works at a public library with more than 200 staff members.

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

match of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the specific job
interpersonal skills
passion for people

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

 This depends on the job and on what the candidate says. For example, a cataloging job would cause me to look very closely at details of the application. A candidate who says “detail-oriented”, better be just that.

In the interview: more than 15 minutes late (though I can easily understand emergencies–in that case, the candidate should ask to re-schedule), obvious lack of knowledge about or interest in the employer and/or the specific position.

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

Objectives. Why? We all know you want a job.

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

Generally, librarians do a great job. What people should remember though is that *every single candidate* meets the minimum qualifications. So, that MLS and undergraduate degree, everyone has one. What makes you different? What do you bring that other candidates don’t? How might you be a better fit for the job? Once, a candidate neglected to mention on her resume that she had been the treasurer of a touring choir (based in her church, but acting as a 501(c)3) in an interview for a job that required budgeting skills. She did mention this in the interview, but almost didn’t get considered (she got the job, by the way).

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

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?

√  .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√  No

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

√  Both as an attachment and in the body of the email

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

Be prompt, know about the job, use humor appropriately, be yourself (not a plastic version of a librarian). Pay attention to the questions. Don’t be afraid to challenge the logic of the questions. Ask a few questions yourself.

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

 Generic answers.

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

In each organization where I’ve had a hiring role, I’ve moved to include more peers and immediate supervisors in the hiring process.

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Filed under 200+ staff members, Original Survey, Public

We Do Not Pay Enough to Have Someone Relocate

Librarian's_Desk, Bancroft Library

 

This anonymous interview is with a non-librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. This person works at a public library with 0-10 staff members. 

 

 

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

Personality
Experience
Communication skills

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

In the interview process, the inablility to answer a question or rather the inability to communicate well either the answer or to communicate any other response.
Distance from our library…we do not pay enough to have someone relocate.
Lack of experience

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

That they know something about the town, or the library itself…that they have done some home work so that they have some idea about population and some other issues.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ I don’t care

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

√ As an attachment only

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

Dress appropriately. Look the interviewers in the eye and respond directly to questions. Have some kind of portfolio of work or work experience to prove one’s claims.

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

For us, not knowing anything about the community….or the job…before hand. Thinking that because we are a small town, we are pushovers for claims of expertise that are clearly over the top. For instance, the person who says he or she was a head librarian at a prestigious university…tnen we have to ask ourselves…why come to a small town library. We also don’t appreciate being preached to….that the applicant can save us because as a small town we probably don’t know what we are doing.

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

We have a process now.

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

Honesty is important. It is better to say that you don’t know something…than lie..and it is better to say that while you don’t know a process, you are willing to be trained. Everyone on a new job has to be a learner, and every manager has to be willing to be a trainer or a teacher.

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, Original Survey, Public

The Bigger Problem is Too Much on the Resume That’s Unrelated to the Position

Main_Reading_Room,_State_Library_of_NSW,_Sydney_(NSW)_(7173836598)

 

This anonymous interview is with a librarian who has been a member of a hiring committee. This person works at an academic library with 10-50 staff members.

 

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

Intelligence
Enthusiasm
Sincerity

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

Poor grammar is always a deal breaker for me followed closely by short and uninformative cover letters.

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

Objectives are a waste of time. I know your objective is to get whatever job your taking the time to apply to. It’s just wasted space.

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

I don’t see this as too much of a problem, the bigger problem is too much on the resume that’s unrelated to the position.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Two is ok, but no more

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, I want to look at every accomplishment

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?

Be genuine, have a sense of humor, and show that you’ve done a little research about our organization. If you’ve explored our website at all you should be in good shape.

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

Yes, a day long interview is stressful but remember that you weren’t brought in unless we felt pretty confident that you could do the job. At this point it’s more about whether people can work with you. I’ve seen (more than once) where the candidate who was hired was not necessarily the strongest librarian of the group but was the most likeable and easygoing.

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

The only real change I’ve noticed is that postings close more quickly, particularly entry level positions. We just get so many applicants that we have to cut if off quickly or we’ll be overwhelmed.

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

READ the job description. I cannot emphasize this enough. Competition is fierce so you need to address every single part of the job description in your cover letter/CV to realistically land an interview. If something is listed as a requirement and you don’t have that skill/knowledge/certification/ don’t bother applying. You don’t need to have every preferred qualification but the more of them you can fulfill, the more likely you are to land an interview. There are just too many applicants who will meet all or most of the standards, you’re just wasting your time (and mine) if you don’t have a strong case.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Original Survey