Tag Archives: libraries

I wish I could know if the job was a stopgap or stepping stone, or if they really were ok with working for such low pay.

Antoinette Humphreys Hollabaugh, from a 1911 newspaper. No photographer credited., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Manager

Titles hired include: Public Services Assistant, Youth Services Assistant

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Other: The position’s supervisor and one other manager in the hiring department

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ 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 applicants based solely on their qualifications matching. Those that are qualified are passed on to the hiring manager who decides who to interview. I am the hiring manager at my branch. 

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

Before we opened, I saw him on the steps engaging in casual conversation with the homeless men who were waiting to come inside and warm up. It was a good indication that he had the right attitude for this library and its clientele. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Failing the alphabetization test. I let that slide once and regretted it. 

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

Honestly? I wish I could know if the job was a stopgap or stepping stone, or if they really were ok with working for such low pay. (I don’t control the pay rate.)

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this 

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?

I’m tired of hearing vague claims about how much candidates value the library. If they are really a library user or advocate, I want them to tell me something that demonstrates that. If they aren’t, that’s okay! Tell me something else that shows me that they’re a kind, helpful, socially aware, critically-thinking and/or tech savvy human that is interested in learning how awesome the library is. 

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

Yes. Candidates seem to grasp what’s needed virtual interviews. 

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?

Since I hire paraprofessionals rather than librarians, I can’t answer this. 

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?

Nothing, as far as I know. 

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

I just like questions that show they have given the position some thought. It’s important for them to know that they need patience and that not everybody is nice to you at the library. It’s a customer service job. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 100-200 staff members, Midwestern US, Public, Urban area

We ALL feel a lot, your level of maturity is reflected in the library-twitter world you inhabit.

Exterior of the University of Exeter Library, with students entering and exiting the building
The University of Exeter Main Library, Benjamin Evans, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Dean & Director

Titles hired include: All of the library faculty and staff in our university library

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ Other: DEI Statement

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Depends if it is faculty or staff. We have search committees, DEI expectations, training and meetings before the job description can be approved by HR. We have a very strong procedure to ensure that we are fair and accommodating to all applicants.  

Faculty run the faculty search, but the dean makes the final decision (provost must give approval)

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

They had a strong sense of self and understood the value they would bring to the workplace. An openness to experience and to joining an academic environment. An understanding of our student-centric campus ethos.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Yes! You can be the smartest person in the room but if you have a low EQ and can’t work with others the hire will not be successful.

One must come with a well formulated concept of self in regards to DEI work and evidence of support/knowledge for our campus population. As a majority under-represented campus, we require a DEI lens/mindset.

If your priority is to work 100% at home. We allow telecommuting, but we are a F2F campus and that requires equal focus on site.

Negative angry-twitter postings. We ALL feel a lot, your level of maturity is reflected in the library-twitter world you inhabit. You do not have to say everything you think. It is called being a grown up

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

what their career goals are. I consider growing people my responsibility and knowing what people want re: knowledge acquisition would be useful

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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

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

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

They don’t consider their fit with the campus. Do your homework. 

Sell what you bring to us. 

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

We have. Practice a solid presentation. Two years into COVID/online work there is NO EXCUSE for a lousy presentation. Make sure the lighting is good, sound, your entire face!  I just had an interview for an instruction position and one candidate only had 1/3 of her face visible.

Bring the energy – it is more difficult for us to get to know you. Show interest and excitement.

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?

Connect the dots. I hired a Home Depot manager who strongly connected her skills to running a service desk. She’s awesome

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: we finally got our campus to share. As a state institution, there is one solid number. But it is uneven.

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

So much. 

All search committees have training and overview by the Inclusive Excellence office. HR and the Dean looks to highlight and be aware of all diversities.

1) pre-search mtg

2) mid-way through mtg

3) post-work mtg

We have standard questions and a strong process that enforces an open mind and process

We have rubrics so that we are rating the same skills

We have changed our minimum standards of requirements

We try to present a diverse search committee, as much as 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 DEI work are we engaged in?

What is the strategic plan and how is it incorporated into regular work? It is great to have values and goals, but are they important enough to accomplish!

What new, exciting projects is the library involved in?

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100

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

Have hope, empower yourself, align your priorities/goals with the institution. There are many good jobs and some bad ones. Be picky even when it feels like you can’t be. 

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

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

We hired in person, even during the pandemic.

Group of Librarians in sits on bleachers
A_Group_of_Librarians_in_New_Ocean_House,_Swampscott,_Massachusetts. Creator: F. W. Faxon, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Discovery Librarian

Titles hired include: E-resources & Scholarly Communication Librarian, Library Associate III: Serials, Senior Project Manager (IT), Assistant ant Director for Education and Research Services

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Other: We take feedback from all staff members and have a coffee time where everyone can meet the candidates

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ 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:

We have a search committee that reviews resumes, works with HR to determine candidates, and spends either a half day (for Support Staff) or two days (for Librarians) with each candidate. Every staff member is invited to at least one meeting with each candidate, whether that be a presentation, a meal, or a coffee gathering (which is more like an open q&a session). I’ve served on several committees and as part of the general feedback group for numerous candidates.

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

They were prepared, calm, and confident.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Lying.

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

Their ability to work in teams.

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?

Divulging too much information.

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

No, we hired in person, even during the pandemic.

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?

Transferable skills need to be phrased in the language of the industry one is transferring to, rather than the industry of origin.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer 

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

Training with HR, lists of “do’s” and “don’ts” and conversations among committee members. However, many opinions (and therefore, much feedback) are based on impressions rather than job skills. We constantly need to refocus on what we’re hiring for, not who we want to hang out with.

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

Office culture, benefits, typical workdays, and “a day in the life.”

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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 

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

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

Further Questions: What technology proficiencies do you look for?

Each week (or thereabouts) I ask a question to a group of people who hire library and LIS workers. If you have a question to ask or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

This week’s question is:

Are there basic technology proficiencies you look for? How do you expect candidates to communicate these to you? I realize this may be different for different positions, so please feel free to speak generally or to specify what roles you are speaking to.


Laurie Phillips, Interim Dean of Libraries, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans: I would say that it totally depends on the position, but we usually want someone who is familiar with an ILS (of some kind) and understands what a discovery layer is. Otherwise, we run completely on Google Suite, so an understanding of Google Suite can be somewhat important, but not required. What’s more important, which we do ask, is how someone both learns and teaches a new technology. The approach to learning and the awareness is very important. It’s important that someone can quickly adapt to new technology and learn new skills, understanding that there won’t necessarily be a training course available, but that for so many things, Googling how to do something works really well! 


Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College:

This is a pretty broad question. These days it’s hard to think of a position that does not require at the very least some ability to use ubiquitous tools like email or word processing.  One strategy we use when we advertise for positions is to ask candidates to “show evidence of” how they are proficient with various forms of technology or even with skills like collaborative work. What we look for are examples of projects or other work rather than a candidate responding by just telling us they are proficient. Proficiency is a hazy term. The examples people provide (we are heading into good cover letter territory) are really helpful ways for a committee to evaluate candidates and it is possible to follow-up with questions if a candidate moves forward in the search process.

We have some positions, including ILL and acquisitions work, that do not require any prior library experience and so we don’t have requirements for experience or proficiency with specific technologies. For other positions we may ask for experience using a type of system (modules of an ILS, e.g.)  but we generally require proficiency with the specific technology products we use. We would be more interested in the candidate’s experience in learning new skills and using new technology.
This is a somewhat vague answer to a broad question. It did give me the opportunity to think about the challenges of trying to define what “proficient” means and how it is demonstrated.


Kathryn Levenson, Librarian, Piedmont High School: I look for comfort with Microsoft Office, Google sheets, docs. We have 3 more specialized systems but we can teach Follett, Schoology, & our accounting software. If they can create nice graphic signage, that is plus. Also, they ahould be able to trouble shoot problems with printers, photocopies, AV, Chromebooks, before we have to call the Tech Desk.


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: We have two questions this week, but for me, I have to take a longer look. The first question is: “Are there basic technology proficiencies you look for?” and the second is: “How do you expect candidates to communicate these to you?”

“Are there basic technology proficiencies you look for?”

When the internet first became popular for general support, professional networking, and training -“Who has and will share basic tech skills lists?” was a constant request on institutional lists, e-lists for associations, functional lists, and vendor lists as well as regional and type-of-library discussions. So besides “Are there basic technology proficiencies you look for?” the issue was much broader….so questions included:

  • What advanced technology competencies do we look for?
  • Is there any way other than hearing or reading on a resume or in HR questionnaires “I can do x and y” is there a way to test or assess any presence and levels of presence, and experience, etc.
  • Besides vendor training, are there any quality free or fee web resources where people CAN get basic training? advanced training? for self or staff training for their job or in preparation for another job or even a job interview?
  • What can we reasonably require of candidates? For any job? At the basic level? medium or advanced level? What certifications can we require or should we require?
  • How can we insert both preferred and required tech competencies as well as the expectation of keeping current into job descriptions, position advertisements? Interview questions?

Originally, there were MANY lists out there and were typically divided by type of library or at the very least were focused by functional areas such as circulation or office productivity. I should also say that organizations need to do three things:

1. Managers need to be honest and decide on their own levels of tech proficiencies so whatever tech competencies they do prefer or require they couple a competency with a proficiency level such as “awareness” of, “familiarity with” or “advanced.” And these level descriptors should be clear such as “working knowledge of” means different things to different people and instead managers could say “successful candidates should have at least x years of experience working at a circulation desk using an online circulation system,” etc.

2. Managers should question their need to require high proficiency levels or certifications with the salary they are providing. It might be possible to seek “awareness of ” with a statement saying “the expectation is that successful candidates will be willing to learn advanced software activities in x software package with the support of the organization.”

3. Managers must decide on basic tech skill sets for all employees and then parse out those required competencies for not only functional areas but employee levels. 

The second question is: “How do you expect candidates to communicate these to you?”

If the organization’s application does not ask the candidate for competency levels then candidates might add that information to either their resume or the organization’s forms. What I think this question is really asking though is “how can you tell if an applicant has what they say they have?”

  • First organizations should state the skill levels they want in advance. 
  • Second they should insert words such as “demonstrable” or “evidence of” signaling that the applicant may well be asked specific followup questions if not be expected to “test.” And while most organizations don’t “test,” questions can be inserted into interviews that are assist in providing information such as:
    • In using an excel spreadsheet program to x, which formula works best for sorting by x?
    • We are thinking of including training for SCANS tech requirements for our workforce information literacy (IL) training to match our state’s required student learning objectives. What tech areas are best to begin with when looking at the current IL standards and the federal SCANS tech competencies?
  • Thirdly organizations should consider asking for products or links to content such as online guides applicants have created, a summer reading manual that an applicant created or worked to create as part of a team.

A manager’s first step should always be – as we all know – to determine not only what tech they want – but what tech must be required given the 2022 organization as well as the tech that might well be needed in the next two years – to provide the tools and competencies to provide opportunities for the employee to be successful. 


We’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, on Twitter @HiringLib, or via Vulcan mind meld. If you have a question to ask people who hire library workers, or if you’d like to be part of the group that answers them, shoot me an email at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

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Filed under Further Questions

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.

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

We clearly invite all qualified candidates to bring their entire self to the process

Marilyn Carbonell is leading the project Nathan Lang, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Head of children’s services.

Titles hired: Librarian, clerk, substitute, associate.

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ 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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ 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:

Post job, accept applications, decide on candidates to interview, conduct interviews, rate candidates, hire.

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

They had written plans for what they would ideally do in the position.

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?

How they will connect with coworkers.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Only One!

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

Not taking a moment to collect thoughts and blurting out a negative answer.

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

No

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 clearly invite all qualified candidates to bring their entire self to the process.

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

We want to share our passion for literacy and serving our patrons.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

They don’t need to be just like us – it’s great if they’re not! – but I need them to not bring toxicity in.

portrait of Edwina Whitney, Librarian,
Edwina Whitney, Librarian, University of Connecticut, 1916. From Wikimedia Commons.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Department head (any more specificity there will be self dox!)

Titles hired include: Business librarian, science librarian, public health librarian, social sciences librarian, business manager, director of communications, HR officer, Research & Instruction Librarian, Department Head (for other departments)

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

√ Other: A search committee recommends to the dean, who makes the final decision in consultation with the supervisor where needed

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ Other: Skills test where appropriate for the position.(and not all these things are required for every position)

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Yes for staff positions, no for faculty positions

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

For faculty positions, a committee is formed and I both chaired those committees and been a member of them.  Positions posted, applications reviewed against a rubric, screening interviews done,  finalist candidates brought in, offer made.  For staff, the position is posted on the university site. For some positions (higher level staff positions) there’s a committee, but for most it’s the direct supervisor doing the interviewing/hiring with feedback from potential coworkers as available/appropriate

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

They looked into us, especially for the interview stage, and let us know they were interested in this position. The cover letter was about the position/university and what they could bring/why they were interested in it.   Especially at the campus interview point, it was clear that they had looked into the library and the university. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Application meant for another institution. A cover letter that is simply “I am applying for X position” that doesn’t address anything about the position.  Not submitting what we need at the point of application (which for us is literally the cover letter, resume/CV, and list of references

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

What they’re like as a colleague. We’re not a huge library and we work together. They don’t need to be just like us – it’s great if they’re not! – but I need them to not bring toxicity in. We’ve worked hard to improve the culture of the department and I don’t want it to slide back to where it was before I joined it. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

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

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

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

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

Not researching the library/university. We put all our strategic plans, mission, values, online. Read them!  

Also, if you have a presentation, pay attention to the topic.  If we ask you to address, say 2 of 4 items, that’s to help you focus your presentation. We know you can’t address all of them well, so please, really do pick 2 of them!

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

Yes for screening interviews, not currently for final interviews since we’ve returned to campus.  Honestly, I don’t know other than to test your connections, microphones, everything. If they’re using a system you’re not familiar with, ask if there’s someone who can do a pre-interview test with you. 

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

Tell me how it’s relevant.  Really!   Put it in your cover letter, clearly. Say “your posting asks for teaching experience. While I don’t have classroom instruction experience, I was the designated trainer for my shift when I worked at In-n-Out, where I trained groups of up to 10 employees at one time. I had to adjust training style to different employees, I had to check in with them for understanding a key points, and I had to follow up with them”

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: For most jobs it’s part of the ad, at least for the department I manage. There are some in the library who don’t want to include it, but I think it is an absolutely essential piece and I won’t post an ad for this department without one. 

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

1) HR removes identifying information from application materials for the initial review

2) For the screening interview, we ask candidates to keep their cameras off

3) Provide the screening interview questions ahead of time, and at the campus interviews, a  print of the questions that day

4) give clear explanations of each group/person they’ll be meeting with and why that’s relevant

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

This depends so much on what’s important to the candidate. Personally, I always ask about process – how things get done if someone has a new idea, because that’s important to me.  I also ask questions to dig into the culture of the department, library, and institution.

As important, ask the same questions of different groups/people that you meet with. Not everyone will have the same answer, but they shouldn’t be at odds with each other. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200 

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

Please have someone (or more than one someone) review your resume and cover letter – ESPECIALLY the cover letter. Resumes can be somewhat generic IMO, but the cover letter needs to be specific.  Having people look at it in relation to a job ad and tell you why they’re making the suggestions they are will help you as you apply for jobs. 

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

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

Libraries are about people so relevant customer service skills regardless of industry is highly important

African-American children line up outside of Albemarle Region bookmobile. Photographer not indicated., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Director

Titles hired: Childrens Librarian, Teen Librarian, Library Assistant, Custodian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Applications are accepted via email only. Must include resume and cover letter. Applicants receive a reply notifying them that their application has been received and if they are chosen for an interview they will be notified by a certain date. Candidates are interviewed. 2nd interviews are done if necessary. If there is a qualified candidate a job offer is made. Our interview process generally includes a panel of library staff that will work with the new hire but the ultimate decision is the library directors.

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

They brought examples of the work from prior positions and explained how they would implement those programs and procedures at our library

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If they don’t include an email address on I won’t interview because that is how I communicate with staff.

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

A bit more about their work ethic and and commitment to an organization and their need for support by administration

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?

Asking questions about time off scheduling et cetera before even having an offer. Or saying they like reading and that’s why they want to work at the library

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

We haven’t, but I would be open to doing so although in fairness to all candidates if one candidate needed a virtual interview I think we would virtually interview all

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?

Libraries are about people so relevant customer service skills regardless of industry is highly important to me when hiring. For desk staff I look for people with either library or retail experience.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

√ Other…

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

We try to solicit diverse candidates but find it difficult and are constantly looking for ways to improve the process.

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

I assume they have reviewed our website for as much information about our organization before the interview. I would hope they would ask questions about what they see there and how the position they are filling would would interact with those goals

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

DO NOT tell me “well, I’ve never been here before.”

Headshot of Michael Sauers

Michael Sauers is currently the Technology Manager for Do Space in Omaha, NE. 

Throughout his 25+ year career, he has been a technology trainer, library trustee, a bookstore manager for a library friends group, a reference librarian, a technology consultant, and a bookseller. He has also published more than 15 books on technology and other topics.

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

Positions are posted by our marketing manger to our Web site and various social media sites and online job positing services such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Applications all go to a single email inbox set up for this purpose and whichever manager is hiring a position is responsible for the rest of the process. For positions reporting to me I review all applications and choose which candidates to interview. Depending on the position, there may be a second interview with other staff included and/or a short meeting between the final candidate and the director. Final hiring decisions are made by the hiring manager unless there is a direct objection to a candidate from the director.

Titles hired include: Community Technologist, Membership Clerk

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ 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?

For most positions I’m looking for four specific things. Their commitment to customer service, a willingness to learn, the ability to work with little direction, and the willingness to ask for assistance/direction if needed. This is all because we’re a very small organization with high expectations when it comes to a member’s experience.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

My biggest issue is when an applicant has no clue as to who/what we are as an organization. We’re open to the public seven days a week totalling 90 open hours. If you’re not going to stop in at least once to look around at least research us online. But in your answer to my first question (“If someone asked you ‘what’s Do Space?’ how would you answer that?”)  DO NOT tell me “well, I’ve never been here before.” At least look us up online before the interview.

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

Nothing I can think of.

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?

Lacking knowledge of the organization and being unable to communicate about themselves clearly.

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

We did this a few times during the height of COVID but I’ve not done this enough to have any advice in this area.

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’m not sure I can point to anything specific however, we do collect anonymous demographic data separate from the application and do a semi-annual demographic survey of staff. In general we’re at least as diverse if not more than the population we serve.

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

Salary range is posted on the job description but we’re generally going to hire at the bottom of that range. Almost no one asks about salary when given the opportunity in the interview.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

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