Tag Archives: library interview

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 

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

Leave a comment

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

Reminder: Interview Questions Repository & Salary Info

Have you been on a library interview recently? Or are you prepping for one?

Sounds like you could use The Interview Questions Repository!

This resource holds questions that people were asked in interviews from more than 500 respondents over nearly a decade.

Click on the upside down triangle to the right of the question in the header row to sort by things like interview type, position, etc.

Please help this resource grow! Share the link widely with your friends and colleagues and if you’ve had a library interview recently, report the questions you were asked.


Interested in viewing Salary Info from more than 270 LIS workers? The second page of the Interview Questions Repository shares that data. If you are interested in adding your own salary info, please use this form.

If you have feedback, I’d love to hear it. Please feel free to email me or use the contact form.

Please note: The links should give you everything you need – please use and share those rather than requesting access through Google Drive. You can always find these links in the toolbar to the right —> and in the static pages listed in the tabs up top (Interview Questions and Salary Info)

yellow compact shelving
A View of the Yellow Repository. The National Archives (UK), CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Leave a comment

Filed under Interview Questions Repository

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.

Leave a comment

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

Always share that you speak another language

headshot of Rachel Schmidt

Rachel Schmidt loves all the facets of being a librarian. In her current role, she serves as the Supervising Youth Services Librarian for the Santa Clara City Library. Growing school and local education partnerships, leading story times and providing access to learning opportunities for ages 0-18 are her main priorities. 

Rachel also loves to collaborate with other librarians. Feel free to reach out!

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

1. Application submissions

2. Oral Board (Outside Panel)

3. Interview (Library Staff Panel)

4. Ref check

5. Possible 3rd Interview

Titles hired: Librarian I, Librarian II, Library Assistant, Intern Consultant

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?

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

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?

1. Passion and love of serving community

2. Demonstrated Problem solving and leadership

3. Excited to learn and demonstrate flexibility

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

1. Bad story time demo

2. Not friendly

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

Their compassion for all walks of life.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

CV: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

Not preparing. Not studying the organization. A little nod to the organiztion goes a long way. Like “ I really love how your Library uses social media to connect with your community” or “One of the main reasons that I applied for this position is that I found that EDI Is deeply embedded into the organiztions strategic plan”. 

Practicing general interview strategies beforehand can really help a candidate warm up for the interview. I suggest revisiting LinkedIn for Learning or any other basic interview courses to get a reminder on the basics. When I am gearing up for an interview, I tend to practice answering questions in my car during my commute so that I can make my answers sound more succinct and I can avoid too much repetition in my experiences/statements. 

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

You need to have a strong internet connection and be able to show friendliness and professionalism. Zoom interviews are very difficult. Also, make sure to take notes and ask a few thoughtful questions after the interview to get more engagement with the panel. 

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?

Great customer service is great customer service and we can learn that anywhere. Demonstrate how they go above and beyond and serve with equity. Being welcoming. Skills and job processes can be learned.

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?

Use a rubric and have multiple interviews

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

Work culture. What is a regular work day like? What are your organizational goals? Strategic plan? What would you like to see accomplished in 5 years? How does your Library support professional development? How do staff have fun and bond at work? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

You need to show a confident version of yourself! Show passion. And it’s always great to demonstrate how you have built relationships in your work with partner organizations. Always SHARE THAT YOU SPEAK ANOTHER LANGUAGE…this always gets overlooked.

Leave a comment

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

Further Questions: What are your tough interview questions?

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 from someone who hires library workers:

Are there one or two questions you have routinely asked in interviews that few if any applicants seem to answer successfully? And – of those you identify as “seldom successful” – why aren’t they successful? What’s missing?

There was an outpouring of anti “tough question” sentiment when I asked this on Twitter – particularly in the quote Tweets.

Please join in the conversation – from either side of the interviewing table – there or in the comments.


Laurie Phillips, Interim Dean of Libraries, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans: I would say probably not, at this point. We have had interview questions, over the years, that were not successful, so we took those questions out and found different ways to get at what we wanted to know. We used to ask people about their most rewarding experience as a teacher or trainer and people who didn’t have direct experience found it difficult to extrapolate to informal teaching or training that they had done. We also used to ask how a person would handle giving feedback to another employee doing work for them who was not a direct report. Many people didn’t understand what we were trying to get at with this question, which was mainly what you would do if you supervised the Learning Commons Desk and someone from another department was staffing the desk.


Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: I like to ask a question that provides the opportunity for a candidate to explore a project or idea that did not conclude as planned. It could something the person labels a “failure,” or just something that went in an unexpected direction. I don’t always even feel the need to include a request to explain how they might do it differently because I think there is a great likelihood that they would follow the same path regardless (depending on how terrible the outcome actually was).

My experience is that this type of question really takes some thought and that is time that we don’t always make room for in an interview. I don’t think candidates are always being disingenuous when they say they can’t think of anything, particularly because they know we are not looking for a specific incidence of a mistake, but something a bit more complex. I think what I am usually interested in is the reflection and in the conversation a candidate can have with search committee members. So I am always considering how to include a question like that without feeling as if we are putting the candidate on the spot.

Another question I like but I think is a bit tough because people tend to be very careful when talking about their jobs is to ask people what they especially like and don’t like about their work. I’m pretty sure no one likes every single aspect of their work. But describing what you don’t like to do to a group of relative strangers you are trying to convince to hire you is tough. So sometimes I think it’s better just to stick with asking people what they like. This question is more revealing than you might think. Some candidates are really very thoughtful with their responses.


Kathryn Levenson, Librarian, Piedmont High School: We give them a scenario involving student discipline but because they haven’t worked in our school environment and community, they have trouble answering it. My successful candidate had been a para in our elementary schools for 16 years. He is super interacting with the kids.


Alan Smith, Director, Florence County, SC Library System: To me, a successful interview question is one that gives me useful information about a candidate, and gives the candidate useful information about our library — not a question that always gets the “right answer.” I especially dislike “gotcha” questions that seem designed to stump the candidate and often don’t have any connection to the work itself. Even if they come up with a clever answer, it makes the interview adversarial instead of collaborative. So with that in mind, if I had a question that was seldom answered correctly, I would rephrase it, add context, or otherwise ask differently until it started giving me useful information. 

That said, there are questions that do have right and wrong answers, and I’m sometimes surprised which ones trip people up. We often ask some variation of, “What do you tell a patron who objects to a certain book in the collection?” A lot of people describe how they would try to explain that the library is for everyone, so they should just ignore it, or even try to debate the merits of the book with the patron in hopes of changing their mind. Someone who has never worked in a library may not know about libraries’ established procedures for reconsideration of materials, but a Librarian or internal candidate definitely should, yet a lot of them still miss this component of the answer. 

Finally, there are positions where technical knowledge is an important factor in hiring: IT, cataloging, etc. Those interviews will involve more specific, detailed questions with definite right and wrong answers (or at least right and wrong approaches). But even in those cases, a question that everyone “gets wrong” would make me re-evaluate some things — Is the job description and job posting accurate? Am I choosing the right people to interview? Am I expecting people to have knowledge of internal procedures that they can only gain on the job? etc.


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: Interestingly, we have three questions that continue to be very hard for candidates. Two questions we ask of all candidates and one we typically ask only librarians at this time. 
1. The first that could be for anyone is “What is the mission of community colleges?” (Note: in essence this should be thought of as “why work here?) This – of the difficult questions – is the one that DOES have more success with many candidates – and often more classified and professional technical are more successful and talk about their own education, friendliness, atmosphere, if the organization is smaller – the opportunity to be closer to students and that they love to be part of a service that might actually make a difference in people’s lives. 
For librarian searches, we ask this first question slightly differently by adding – for example – how do community college libraries or should community college libraries differ from other libraries in higher ed? or in other educational settings such as public libraries or school libraries?” While many of the classified or professional technical provide experiences and possibly very authentic answers, librarians may certainly articulate the mission of libraries – the challenge for librarians seems to lie in the differences between or among library settings. 

Luckily, this is easily solved for librarians.

  • Spending time on community college websites reviewing their mission and then comparing not only mission statements but vision and values statements to other mission, vision and values statements. 
  • Visit the college’s library website/pages and if they have a separate mission, vision and values compare those as well. 
  • Visit state or national association division and section web content where differences and similarities are often covered.
  • Review agendas of conferences to note current programming by type of library. Clearly these are NOT all the same and offerings and differences are telling.

and obviously 

  • Explore research and opinion in the professional literature on differences and similarities. Interestingly – inserting “change” and “changing” into the research process such as “what is the changing role of community colleges” yields much research and opinion. 

Applicants should also consider including similarities and differences between students and faculty, ‘

student support’ and ‘student success,’ ‘information literacy,’ or ‘evidence-based research’ or ‘digital fluency research’ skills – taking the opportunity to bring in basic vs. advanced skills sets, diverse assignments, etc. 

2. The second harder question for librarians is “What is the difference between management and leadership? and “Please provide examples of your education or experience with each.” And while we certainly ask this when interviewing for management positions, it is important for non-managerial librarians to know about their preferences or how they might prefer to be managed. As to asking non-managerial librarians about leadership – we find leadership at all levels in the organization including leading teams, projects, leading in the community and the community of users, etc. 
3. The third question includes content focused on an applicants’ attitudes toward equity, diversity and inclusion and – more importantly – knowledge of its value and role in work life and most important of all – application of techniques to ensure integration into the business of the institution – not only for staff but for all users. Answers to questions that are very open-ended are telling, of course – but more successful ones are:

  • Give two examples of how you have integrated EDI into user education, information literacy or teaching and learning. 
  • What three techniques might be integrated into the reference interview to ensure equitable customer service for this critical service?
  • Have you assessed a library (or other setting) for how welcoming it is to diverse patrons?  If you haven’t, what do you think is important when welcoming diverse users to a library?

Why can’t applicants answer these questions?

These questions aren’t easy if someone has not prepared, but they are easily researched and it is logical that they would be part of an interview. Also, if they are difficult it isn’t because the candidates don’t value missions, styles and techniques or EDI. Rather it is often hard to articulate specific examples – in simple discussions – much less interviews! 
So in thinking about these three areas:
1. All applicants should expect that organizations want to make sure applicants understand the general purpose of the organization and while overall missions are easy to articulate in general, distinguishing among or between mission statements and identifying what those differences are IS difficult for any type of library applicant. But now more than ever, institutions are building in values to mission and vision statements. In addition, position roles and responsibilities should reflect the institution’s mission statements and it is important that employees need to be aware of expectations of the organization. 
2. In looking at human resources research and statistics on why people leave jobs or move more quickly than expected from one job to another – performance is an issue as well as like or dislike of work – but often the primary reason is that people do not like or get along with their supervisor. The management vs. leadership question attempts to determine if applicants have thought about what is important to them in working for a specific style or type of manager and practiced self-reflection on how they might fit into the organization. Also the leadership addition provides an opportunity to discuss opportunities within the organization for people to experience what might be more than their primary job as well as competency building opportunities. Organizations may be looking for not only existing managers or leaders as well as future and potential managers and leaders – and at the very least are seeking people who have sincerely thought about what makes them choose one environment over another.
3. Clearly not only is concern for and commitment to EDI present in society today, it is critical that awareness of the importance of and willingness to integrate into the workplace is a part of performance expectations. Interview questions set expectations but answers seek knowledge of application of techniques to focus on true integration. In addition, applicants need to know that expectations translate to measurement and assessment of requirements for the position as well as roles and responsibilities. This question provides the opportunity for interviewers to point out revised mission, vision and value statements, organizational and individual outcomes as well as the organization’s  changes to content such as advertising focus for openings, revised position descriptions, job evaluations and overall development and training required. Finally, this question allows an organization to talk about not only the importance of EDI but the PRACTICE of EDI.


We’re looking for more people who hire LIS workers! If you’d like a no-commitment opportunity to reflect on your hiring practices, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail. You’ll get a weekly email which you can ignore or answer (anonymously even). You’ll get to help LIS job seekers & people who hire in LIS fields understand the process better. And I’ll be your best friend!

Leave a comment

Filed under Further Questions

In the many years that I have interviewed and selected a new employee, I tend to select on the person’s attitude, staying on point to the questions asked, experience.

Nederlands: Collectie Fotoburo de Boer. Houts, Nils van (UP de Boer), CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Library Branch Manager

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, Library Services Supervisor, and Library Information Services Specialist.

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

√ References

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Written Exam

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Other: Not sure

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

Receive and review applications, conduct interview and make selection.

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

Even though the position is mostly a paraprofessional, the amount of experience in a library setting was very good such as working at a bookstore, volunteer at a library and/or past public library experience. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If the person does not show much interest in the interview and or is expecting to be selected because of a family member working with our organization.

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

DOB

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?

Disinterest.

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

This year alone we have conducted virtual interviews.

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?

In the many years that I have interviewed and selected a new employee, I tend to select on the person’s attitude, staying on point to the questions asked, experience.

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

Dress code and possibilities for promotion.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual? 

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 101-200

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

Leave a comment

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

Job Hunter’s Web Guide: Library Jobline (Revisited)

In 2013, as part of the Job Hunter’s Web Guide series, I ran a profile of Library Jobline, the job board run by the Colorado State Library (funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services). They still provide listings, and have in fact grown! But of course some things have changed. Below are some updates (and a new question). 

Who Runs It?

It is now run by Network and Resource Sharing, a unit of the Colorado State Library.

What’s changed about your site since the 2013 profile?

The site has grown significantly since 2013 in terms of the number of employers and job seekers that have signed up and the frequency of job postings. In 2020 we partnered with the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services and incorporated their job board into LibraryJobline. This has been a great relationship and we hope that it might serve as a model for partnering with other state/regional job boards in the future. More generally we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of employers outside of Colorado to the point that jobs for libraries within the state are now about half of all new posts.

Regarding the website itself, there have been few changes in functionality since 2013. Our focus remains the same: make it easy as possible for employers and job seekers to connect, while providing a platform that encourages collecting, analyzing, and reporting data for library (and related) employment. To that end we’ve stripped away some of the burdensome posting requirements for employers, and we’ve continually refined our email notifications so that job seekers more reliably and accurately receive notifications of new posts.

The *NEW* Question: What are your standards for job listings (e.g. must include salary)?

We require a few basic pieces of data about the job such as title, employer, location, and a job description. Additionally, employers can have their jobs “featured” by providing additional data for hours, compensation, and benefits. We don’t edit people’s ads but we do occasionally reject ads for jobs which are not within or closely related to the field of librarianship.

What’s the job hunting landscape like for your target audience?

It’s probably not unlike the general economic landscape as a whole: beginning in late 2020 we saw a significant increase in the number of jobs posted, but that has not been accompanied by a change in the number of new job seeker accounts or traffic to the site. For example, we had twice as many jobs posted in 2021 compared to 2020, but just about the same number of new user accounts for both years. It’s early yet, but that trend has continued up to this point in 2022.

We recently published an infographic for 2021 and you can see that here: https://www.lrs.org/fast-facts-reports/2021-library-jobline-fast-facts/

Thank you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Job Hunters Web Guide

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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