Tag Archives: lis career

Not showing up

Reception at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Librarians. Washington, DC. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Library Assistant, children’s librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

Municipality posts jobs, collects resumes, forwards them to me. I interview with another staff person, make hiring recommendation

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

Pleasant, answered every question thoughtfully, seemed like good personality fit

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Abrasive people, drama queens, evasive or inattentive answers

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

Personality fits

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?

Not showing up

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

Sometimes. We all have tech glitches, roll with them.

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?

Customer service, willingness to learn, don’t assume all last work transfers, please have some tech skills

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

Anything

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?

√ 0-10

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Northeastern US, Public, Suburban area

highlight previous customer service experience and really sell what you are going to bring to the library that they may not already have.

Ottendorfer, Librarian standing at desk, NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Librarian II

Titles hired include: Library Technician, Library Assistant, Librarian 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

We post the position for 2 weeks, review the applications, interview 3-6 candidates,  make the offer, send information to HR for background check, set start date, and let other candidates know the choose someone else. As a hiring manager, I do everything but the steps that HR completes.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Candidates that don’t have conflict management skills. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Only One! 

CV: √ Only One! 

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

Answering that they like quiet places and to read. That’s great but we do so much more than that. Make sure to really look at the library’s website and social media.

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

We have conducted virtual interviews in the past but are now back to in-person.

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

Make sure to highlight previous customer service experience and really sell what you are going to bring to the library that they may not already have. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

We have multiple people choose the candidates 

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

What duties are specific to this position? (We have the same job description for everyone with that title.) What will the first 6 months in this position look like?

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?

√ 51-100 

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

They asked excellent questions.

Fairleigh Dickinson College Library, Rutherford, New Jersey. Librarian room. LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Special Library

Title: Director – Library

Titles hired include: Associate Director, Digital Library;  Senior Specialist, Systems Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application 

√ Resume 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

HR filters the applications and send them on to the hiring manager

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

Excellent interviewing skills; they were well prepared and had taken time to learn about the company. They asked excellent questions.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No knowledge of the company they’re interviewing with.

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

Gaps in resume

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

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?

No eye contact

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

Yes, we did during COVID. Just need to be fully engaged in the conversation. I don’t see much difference really between in person and virtual.

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?

The job market is still tight so I’ll take a chance on people who do have a lot of experience in one particular aspect. 

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?

We try to have a diverse interviewing panel. We also have mandatory training on working on removing biases.  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern 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?

√ 0-10 

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Filed under 0-10 staff members, 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Northeastern US, Special, Suburban area

Folks looking to break in, you must know how the libraries really work.

Retirement of supervising librarian Leah Lewison of 115th Street Branch. Left to right: Regina Andrews, Carolyn Trumpass, Rosa Zubilaga Montera, Leah Lewison, an unidentified woman and Tiffany (?) NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Head of Childrens and Teens

Titles hired include: Library assistants, Children’s and teen librarians 

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ 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?

Personable, chatty, had good experience. Almost finished degree. Made you feel like they would be fun to work with.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Very short answers are not enough. Please take your time and elaborate. 

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

Their work ethic; how much energy and enthusiasm they have. Whether or not they initiate projects or just wait around until they are assigned something.

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?

When people are too brief. We want to hear you talk a bit with each response.

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

We do not conduct 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?

Folks looking to break in, you must know how the libraries really work. Study up on wherever you are applying. Have good follow up questions. Run a program, volunteer with any group of people. Find a way to relate normal activities to the library world. Talk about customer service from both viewpoints.

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?

Nothing that I am aware of.

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

Ask about the most important qualities for the candidate. Ask about library climate.

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

If you’re stuck though, ask people what they like about working there. Long hesitation is telling.

Photograph of Society of American Archivists Study Tour, Vatican, Rome. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives 

Titles hired include: Collections archivist, archives director, librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

Committee crafts job description, admin approves, committee reviews all applications (resume, cover letter) and culls to 6-9 phone interviews, then 3-4 full-day interviews (usually in person but have been via Zoom recently). 

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

They made a good case for their ability to contribute to a team and they understood why they worked, not just how to follow instructions. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Too much reliance on a manager telling you what to do, lack of curiosity

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

How they handle disagreement or adversity.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more 

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

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

Answering questions with a yes or no. This is your chance to tell us about your work and ideas!

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

It’s hard not to talk over people in a Zoom meeting. Take a brief pause before speaking if you can. Don’t worry about avoiding awkwardness. Everyone feels a little weird!

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?

Never apologize for your experience or try to hide it! Lots of people have the degree, but very few have other experience and make a great case for how it makes them a better, more well-rounded candidate. Explain yourself as a whole person with a unique perspective, because you are! 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Pushing to put it in the ad, but it’s not always done

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

There is an HR training and we try to anonymize a bit in the first round. Improvements certainly possible.

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

Your questions are always best if you do a bit of research first. If you’re stuck though, ask people what they like about working there. Long hesitation is telling.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Midwestern 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, Academic, Archives, Midwestern US, Urban area

some of my colleagues also ask “why do you want this job” and it irks me because we’re IN A SCENARIO.

Original caption: The Librarian Carefully Enters the Consignment Into Her Books, 12/1952. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library  

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration 

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter 

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ 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? 

√ No 

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

For librarians (faculty): search committee, of which I’ve been a member and a chair

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

Well thought-out, well-written cover letter that was exactly what we were looking for. It showed the candidate really, really understood the role and would be amazing in it.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Not understanding, in the foggiest, what the role entails. Things like talking about an aspect of library work that isn’t within the realm of the position. I understand that you can’t know what it is for sure, but if I’m hiring for an instruction librarian and all your examples/things you’re excited about are technical services, I’m a bit concerned.

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

How well they would actually fit the position. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ 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?

A personal pet peeve: if we give you a presentation topic and fake audience, pretend we are the fake audience. Do not talk librarian shop if we are supposed to be faculty in a different college. To be fair, some of my colleagues also ask “why do you want this job” and it irks me because we’re IN A SCENARIO. This is petty, I know. 

Getting basic facts (the name of the institution) wrong!

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

Yes! When I’m on the committee, I advocate for the first round to be a phone and/or no video meeting. That way candidates can look at their notes. Rehearse so you can highlight your strengths without reading. You got this – we contacted you because we think you could be the person we need. This is a conversation where either party can say “yes” or “no.” For video-on calls (portions of the all-day academic interview during covid), we planned breaks and the like. Turn your camera off, mute yourself, or leave the room during breaks. It’s awkward. Interviews are awkward, Zoom is awkward, together it’s really awkward. Try to make the best of it. We’re trying too. Remember that the committee wants you to be the answer to their open position. Have your examples ready in your mind, be yourself, and be curious about the folks talking to 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?

I had success couching it in librarian-type terms. I love when folks have been paraprofessionals or worked in tough customer service jobs, because that means they will handle the weirdness of an academic library likely quite well. 

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?

It depends on the search committee chair. We redact names & identifying information up until phone interviews, we require a good diversity statement (beyond “libraries are for everyone!” and more along the lines of “neutrality isn’t real and libraries can be racist so… here’s what I’ve done to get better”)

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

Whatever you want to know! Do you want to know things about living where we are? About the culture of the library? If there’s something that would be a dealbreaker for you, ask about it. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ 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, Suburban area, Urban area, Western US

Neurodiversity and physical ability aren’t even on people’s radars as indicators of diversity.

Photograph of the Visit of Mrs. Gladys Sheriff, Librarian of Fourah Bay College, University College, Freetown, Sierra Leone, to the National Archives, 7/23/1964. National Archives

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Department Head

Titles hired include: Most positions don’t have titles, just profiles

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ Other:  Department head (who is usually the supervisor for the position).

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

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ Other:  It depends. We usually have one round of interviews; two if there are 2+ good candidates. The second round will come with an assignment. 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

See comment under #5 (Which of the following does your organization regularly require of candidates?). The hiring process is somewhat simple and structured and governed by policy. The writing of the job description and getting approval from the director is a long, less structured process.

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

Having a good cover letter, honestly. And in the cover letter, demonstrating that they’ve done a close reading of the job description and have a clear understanding of what the job entails. So few applicants do that – it makes the ones who do really stand out. Also, this has meant, in the majority of cases, a smooth transition into the new function – not to mention a good interview with a concrete foundation. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Maybe this makes me a jerk, but at the application stage, poorly formatted or unusually formatted resumes/CVs can be deal breakers (and by ‘unusual’, I don’t mean like the amazing comic resume/CV one candidate submitted).

Reason 1: I want my team to have good teammates. My team specializes in information and data literacy, which includes presenting info and data clearly and with/within certain professional standards. So, to me, the format alone already gives some indication about whether the applicant is at the expected level – and in some cases, if they are tech or information literate themselves. 

Reason 2: We process, review and respond to every single application ‘by hand’ so anything that makes a resume or CV harder to read and get through (like dates in weird places, inconsistent or odd formatting or fonts, missing email addresses, etc.) means it can get overlooked in favor of those without issues. 

That said, a good cover letter and some enthusiasm will almost always win the day.

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

If they’re going to drop out after getting tenure and/or make things harder for the rest of the team.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!  

Resume: √ Only One!  

CV: √ Two is ok, but no more 

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

Being too nervous or putting too much pressure on themselves to do everything ‘right’. I’m just trying to have a conversation to get to know the candidate & I’m not trying to trick anyone or pull any gotcha moves. I want to know who the candidate is and how they think and what they want from the job. I want to see if there’s a connection and if we can work together.

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

Yes! I’m not sure, honestly. 

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?

There are at least two levels for me here. 

#1 is organizational awareness or sensitivity or understanding of working in a large or complex organization. One interviewee talked about her experience organizing a volunteer event with the city, but she forgot to inform an important party about something and ended up causing some hurt feelings and mistrust. She was able to resolve things but learned a lot of lessons about stakeholders and hierarchies. Her example was convincing and worked for me.

#2 is content knowledge. This is a little trickier, perhaps. I’d be convinced by someone demonstrating some research and/or asking good questions. For example, one fresh graduate from a non-library program asked which information literacy framework we followed and then drew upon her experiences as a student to connect to the job description and tasks. “After I saw the framework, I thought back on the library skills training we did as freshmen and I realized how well the training fit with the framework. I never knew!”

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

We are required by policy to have diverse interview teams (usually 3-4 people in any interview process). ‘Diverse’ has very little meaning here as 95% of the library staff are white and local to the region. A ‘diverse’ interview team generally means we have to have men + women, preferably from departments outside of our own. Neurodiversity and physical ability aren’t even on people’s radars as indicators of diversity. Strangely, LGBTQ+ people are so accepted as to be almost invisible, hence the return to man + woman as indicators.

Discrimination is still crazy. In one application round, we had a fantastic application from someone who grew up in Vietnam. He had an amazing cover letter, too. My former boss said, “Guess we’ll have to pass on this one.” I asked why. He said, “You know how they are. No respect for women. We already have enough turmoil in the department.” (The turmoil being me, the first new employee in 10+ years, and an immigrant to boot.) After picking apart his weak ‘argument’, I took the issue to HR. 

In what contexts does discrimination still exist? Well, that ^. Also in what I wrote above about semi-dismissing messy resumes/CVs. We could very well be rejecting good candidates who just don’t know how things work here (not that we get many applications from people from diverse or international backgrounds), even with lax language requirements.

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

Ask me anything! It’s important to know that we, like all other university libraries in the country, work with profiles and not with strict job/task descriptions. That means that in 3 years or 5 years or whenever, people can be asked to do different tasks that fit their profile. I see it as an overall positive, though it was very confusing when I started my own job.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Other: Mainland Europe

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? 

To you: good questions – good food for thought! Thanks for the opportunity to reflect!

To job hunters: I’d rather hire a person with potential who fits with the team and has a growth mindset than a stick in the mud with experience.

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, 100-200 staff members, Academic, Urban area

Job postings and position descriptions are a major problem

[Librarian Belle da Costa Greene, three-quarter length portrait, standing, facing slightly left] LOC.gov

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library

√ Archives

√ Special Library 

Title: Archivist

Titles hired include: Archivist, project archivist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Online applications go to HR who conduct an initial screening, they send applications onto the hiring committee which is almost always chaired by the supervisor for the open position.  The hiring committee always includes multiple staff from across departments with some knowledge of the work the incumbent will be performing (supervisor, curator, someone in a parallel or very similar position within the unit, someone with a tangentially related job in another unit). The committee goes through bias awareness training with HR.  The committee reviews all the applications and discusses them. In the searches I’ve been involved with, we go around the table and discuss each candidate and generally rate them as a yes, maybe, or no, though there is no formal rubric for this.  We go through the yes’s and maybe’s and narrow down to a few people we want to bring for a phone screening.  After the phone screening we narrow the finalists who will be invited for a full day interview.  The full day interview includes interviews and lunches/events with various configurations of staff from various units.  The committee collects feedback from staff on the candidate.  The committee meets to make a decision.  It’s generally after the full-day interview when we check references for the candidate we want to make the offer to.  HR reaches out to make the offer and handles the salary negotiations, sharing info about benefits, etc. 

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

Their cover letter was exceptionally well-written and told a compelling story about their career and why they were a great fit for the position.  It was truly impeccably written and the entire application package included a good mix of quantitative info (# of collections worked on, quantifying budget and workflow efficiencies) and more qualitative information about what they enjoyed about the work, their working style, and what it’s like to have them as a colleague.  One thing that really impressed me was that the cover letter included tidbits of how their colleagues would describe them and their accomplishments.  “I’m well-known within the department for my XYZ skills.  My colleagues have asked me to review documentation because of my expertise, and I am frequently asked to liaise with XYZ committees and units.  One colleague described me as “our resident XYZ expert.”  That kind of thing. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

If it’s clear from the CV and/or cover letter that they do not understand the job they’re applying for.  Something like applying for a cataloging position and spending the entire cover letter talking about how much they want to focus on exhibits and instruction. 

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

Honest assessment of their working style – not in terms of productivity but things like preference for oral vs. written communication, their preferred management style, the type of training they need and how they would like it delivered.  In my experience people are so eager to please that you can’t get a good sense of this from the questions we ask.  There are lots of vague answers which makes it difficult to gauge the type of training and onboarding they would actually need and whether it’s realistic for us to provide that in the way that would make them most likely to succeed. 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more 

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

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

Not doing enough research about basic subject knowledge and core competencies for the position.  Not anticipating or being prepared for behavioral type questions “tell us about a time when…” “Tell us how you would hypothetically handle this situation…” 

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

Yes, we do Zoom interviews.  It can be hard to get the same degree of connection, so it can feel a little awkward.  Not much specific advice but don’t be afraid to ask for questions or clarifications.  

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?

This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  I honestly don’t have much advice for paraprofessionals or folks in this situation because I think the problem is absolutely on employers and hiring managers, not on the applicants themselves.  If you’re switching between library types you can definitely emphasize the functions which are the same and the skills that are transferrable.  If you’re a paraprofessional you can emphasize the degree to which you worked independently, and perhaps any areas where you have leadership or were asked to consult or offer your advice on workflows, documentation, etc.  Those are both indications of professional growth and expertise and ability to move into a professional role. 

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?

HR does a training about this but in my opinion it is inadequate. 

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

I love when candidates have done a bit of research and ask about specific initiatives going on at the library, if they have a sense of recent projects we’ve done or know what our standards and workflows are, at least at a very surface level.  I also like questions about training and onboarding and the possibilities for cross-training and professional development.  It’s good when someone shows initiative and interest in a particular area, a willingness to be more involved professionally, or even offers feedback or suggestions if we’ve mentioned a particular challenge or ongoing issue.  

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

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? 

Job postings and position descriptions are a major problem.  They need to be clearer, more specific, and more transparent about a lot of things. I’ve personally applied for jobs where the job description listed every possible archives/library function under the sun, it seemed like a generalist job with “additional duties as assigned” thrown in for good measure, only to get to the interview and realize that the employer had a very specific focus for the job (95% one function or task) and they use a boilerplate job desc or just include all those other things so you can’t make the case that you’re being given tasks outside your scope.  Also, be transparent about salary, benefits, hours, and onsite vs remote work time from the get go.  

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, 100-200 staff members, Academic, Archives, Northeastern US, Special, Suburban area, Urban area

because we serve an online university, the ability to connect virtually is critically important

Port Richmond, Librarian at table with children. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Academic Library 

Title: Sr. Manager, Learning Support

Titles hired include: Distance Education Librarian, Digital Media Librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References 

√ 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:

Initial applicant screening by HR, followed by phone interview with supervisor (me), followed by panel interview, followed by selection through panel review/discussion

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

Clear passion coming through in the responses, very genuine. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Evidence of not having a service-oriented mentality 

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

How much they truly care about serving students to the best of their ability 

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

Coming off overly confident or cocky 

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

Yes, because we serve an online university, the ability to connect virtually is critically important. Show the same level of interest and engagement you would in an in-person interview. Watch your body language the same way as well. 

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?

Having experience in customer service goes a long way, particularly if you can share anecdotes about going above and beyond to serve. 

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?

Review the application packets before looking at the candidate’s name. 

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

Answer here

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban

√ Suburban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Always 

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, Academic, Suburban area, Urban area, Western US

If they speak differently, or better, to me once they figure out I’m the Director, I won’t hire them.

Donald Fowle, librarian in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library 

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Reference Librarian, Branch Manager, Deputy Director, Finance Manager, Children’s Specialist, Marketing Coordinator, Archives Assistant, Young Adult Specialist, Administrative Librarian, Community Engagement Coordinator

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Other: for leadership positions we include at least one staff member who would report directly to them

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ References

√ A whole day of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel

√ Other: Librarian License for applicable positions

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

All applications are received by our Office Manager. She screens for clearly not meeting qualifications. Those that make it through that phase go to our Deputy Director. He screens for skillset and coordinates the panel. The panel is led by the senior librarian in the channel being hired for, a supervisor or peer for the position being hired, and a member of our diversity committee. The Office Manager arranges for the interviews. Once the interviews are complete, the Office Manager coordinates the background checks and drug tests. For senior level positions – meaning the Administrative team – those come to me directly. Those interviews are typically 3 rounds. They include a telephone interview, a meet and greet with the departments they will support and a formal panel interview. I hold all hiring responsibilities as delegated by our library board. I almost always follow the recommendations of my team. I can only remember one time that I vetoed a decision.

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

They were familiar with our organization and shared how they would fit in it.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

As the director, I most frequently will be the one to greet applicants at the door. Most of the time, they think I’m my Office Manager. If they speak differently, or better, to me once they figure out I’m the Director, I won’t hire them. Equity and the value of every patron is one of our core values. I need to know they will live that out without someone watching. ** I forgot another one. I’m a female. My Deputy Director is a male. If a candidate only speaks to him and refuses to address me, it makes it clear that my leadership won’t be recognized.

Is there anything you wish you could know about candidates that isn’t generally revealed in the hiring process?

No.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

No knowledge at all about who we are or what we do. Asking me questions that you can find on the website such as our hours or locations demonstrates lack of initiative.

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

Yes. Learn the technology. Everyone has rough days or technology challenges so we have grace for that. But if you are applying for a technology librarian, you should be able to share your screen in a common platform.

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?

Our organization focuses on excellent services as a part of our mission. Being able to demonstrate customer or public service makes every applicant stand out. I wish that parents who have taken a break from work would better understand their value. I know this isn’t the same as the question but I find that parents tend to undervalue their experiences at the interview table. 

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad 

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

We have a diversity committee that has reviewed our interview question bank. We have a member of the committee on each panel. We have recently started clearly defining the necessary skills prior to the interview to make sure that we are all evaluating the same thing. We have also experimented with a focus on numerical evaluation though that had its own challenges.

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

I like being asked what our priorities are for the early months. I like questions about the culture of the organization because it shows that the applicant understands the value of a healthy workplace.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southeastern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Other: We are a large regional system made up of urban and rural areas.

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Other: Only during COVID quarantines.

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, Rural area, Southeastern US, Urban area