Tag Archives: LIS hiring

Confident, energetic, focused, poised

Photograph of Dr. Hermann Robinton, Assistant to the State Librarian, Albany, New York, Turning over to Dr. Wayne C. Grover, Archivist of the United States, Some of New York’s Most Treasured Documents to be Preserved and Rehabilitated for Display on New York’s Freedom Train. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Archives

√ Public Library

Title: Head of Special Collections

Titles hired include: Archivist (I-III), Lead Archivist, Librarian (I-IV), Senior Library Specialist

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ The position’s supervisor

√ A Committee or panel 

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

√ Online application 

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions 

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Referred applications from (non-library) HR sent to hiring manager. Revise/update job posting and interview questions. Select applicants for interview. Interview with a panel. Score and select candidates for either an offer or second round interviews (dependent on position). Reference check, including request for copies of transcripts. HR completes background check and offer.

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

Confident, energetic, focused, poised, had clearly done their research about the organization and the position.

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

Workplace preferences and current work/professional priorities

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: √ 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 organization, not being  familiar with the job posting

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

Yes. Test out your setup ahead of time. Just like with in-person presentations, have a back up plan.

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?

Involvement in the library professional associations, volunteer work in the areas of interest, educational training and development (from full degree program to one-time workshops)

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?

Required training and completion of acknowledgment form before joining a hiring panel

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

What is a typical workday for this position? 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Southwestern US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore  

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, Archives, Public, Southwestern US, 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

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Stats and Graphs: Who makes hiring decisions at your organization?

At this point I am not new to libraries, nor am I new to hiring, and I still find it weird and confusing that the person who initially screens your application is not likely to be a person who interviews you, and neither of those people may actually make the hiring decision. And your eventual supervisor may be yet a whole nother person who you don’t see at all in the hiring process.

So I have a few questions in the Return to Hiring Librarians survey that are designed to highlight this chain in the LIS hiring process. One is:

image of survey question. text reads: Who makes hiring decisions at your organization (check all that apply): HR, Library Administration, The position's supervisor, a committee or panel, employees at the position's same level (on a panel or otherwise), other

182 people responded to the survey. As you can see in the chart below, many of them took full advantage of the “other” option.

Chart of answers to "Who makes hiring decisions at your organization?" answers listed in text below this image

HR | 42 (23.1%)
Library Administration | 106 (58.2%)
The position’s supervisor | 122 (67%)
A Committee or panel | 99 (54.4%)
Employees at the position’s same level (on a panel or otherwise) | 30 (16.5%)

Other answers:

  • a committee narrows down, recommends, then prioritizes names…the chair of the committee (typically the supervisor of the committee) can then move the same names along or overturn, HR does final vetting but only something like a failed criminal background check would prompt HR to overturn/send it back. My AVP typically vets and approves, before HR.
  • Executive Director 
  • Library Administration, upon the recommendation of search committee 
  • VP of Academics & President of College
  • The committee may include a faculty member from the area the librarian will be supporting 
  • I just wanted to specify that directors are hired by the library board’s personnel committee and the directors hire the rest of their staff.
  • The position’s supervisor and one other manager in the hiring department
  • County administration, library commission (governing board) 
  • The position’s supervisor, and Director 
  • A search committee recommends to the dean, who makes the final decision in consultation with the supervisor where needed
  • For leadership positions we include at least one staff member who would report directly to them
  • We take feedback from all staff members and have a coffee time where everyone can meet the candidates
  • Staff hired by Director; Director hired by Library Board
  • Provost or other principal administrator
  • The Dean makes the final decision but the search committee provides a report and everyone in the library provides feedback.
  • Director 
  • Panel recommendations are reviewed by Director 
  • We’re a small, rural library. No HR dept. Hiring decisions are ultimately made by director, with input from the respective Dept head
  • Search committee makes recommendation to dean
  • Department head (who is usually the supervisor for the position).
  • If a position is of a supervisor/”librarian” level, there may be a committee of admin and/or the position’s supervisor
  • Principal
  • Library Board
  • CEO

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, Stats and Graphs

Further Questions: What’s the Worst Job Search Advice You Ever Heard?

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:

What’s the worst job search advice you ever heard? Why was it bad? Bonus info: who said it and when/where did you hear it?


Jaime Taylor, Discovery & Resource Management Systems Coordinator, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts: Literally anything and everything from my mom, who tried to give me advice when I was a new librarian struggling to find a job in 2009-2010. She hadn’t job searched since the early 1980s & everything she said was out of date & useless. (No, mom, no one keeps a file of promising resumes that they will pull out later, so sending mine to orgs that weren’t hiring – on paper, no less – wasn’t going to go anywhere but the trash.) So – the worst advice comes from anyone who has neither job searched nor hired lately, doubly so if they have never worked in your field and are therefore unaware with the field’s norms. That person might care about you and want you to succeed, but that doesn’t mean they have good advice.

(Yes, you can put my name on it.)


Ellen Mehling, Job Search Advisor/Instructor and Brooklyn Public Library’s Job Information Resource Librarian: The worst job search advice I’ve ever heard is that you should lie or mislead others in order to get a job, and that includes presenting a resume or cover letter that someone else wrote as if it is your own work. Employers don’t want to hire people who are dishonest and/or desperate, and who don’t actually have the required experience and skills for the job, or for the job search(!)

Anyone who gives this advice is telling you that they are dishonest and they are comfortable enough with lying that they recommend it to other people. If they are employed they probably lied in order to get their job. I would keep that information in mind as you interact with them. 


Randall Schroeder, Director, Retired: The worst piece of career advice I received was cumulative. Too many suggested that if you stay in one place and one position, your career is static and you could become irrelevant. I knew of one small college director who claimed when hiring a new librarian, the new librarian was expected to move on after three years and that after five, the library would start working to make them want to move. I hesitate to think what they might have looked like.

Sometimes, you are, in fact, where you need to be. Some of the happiest people I have known in academe knew early on that where they landed with their first or second jobs was where their bliss was. Not participating in campus politics or professional politics to climb to the next level was of no interest. They seemed to be very happy.

Don’t be ambitious if it doesn’t feel authentic to you. I felt pressured to move to the next levels and I regretted it. Where I was in my first and second jobs was where I wanted to be and I was good at it. Don’t let outside pressure sacrifice you from your authentic happiness to your misery. To me, the object of the game is to serve your community, patrons, clients, or students, not your ego.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Linus?

Outrageously happy.,” – Peanuts


Laurie Phillips, Interim Dean of Libraries, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans: I have friends (who don’t know libraries) trying to get me to apply for every job that’s out there, not really understanding how library jobs at my level are so siloed (public universities vs private/small vs. large/collections and systems and access vs. Learning Commons or teaching, etc.) My experience is varied, so I have a little more leeway, but it’s a total waste of time for me to apply to jobs outside my niche and expertise. If you don’t meet the qualifications and can’t even make your experience work, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time for you and the people who have to review applications. Academic applications take a tremendous amount of time to put together, if you do it right. I’m very careful about choosing jobs that are a good fit. Also, job openings run on a cycle for most academic libraries, especially at the higher levels. Fiscal years start on July 1 or August 1. Deciding to apply for everything in the fall isn’t really going to get you very far. 


Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College:

I have heard people recommend trying to negotiate your starting salary, but most of the places I’ve worked have had a static chart based on qualifications and years of experience with no room for variation.

If you try to bargain at a place like that, you will probably come across as arrogant and entitled. 


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: Let me start with the last “bonus” question “Who said it and when/where did you hear it?” In short, the bad answers I am including are coming from years of reading articles, books and blogs on both commercial and non commercial content to determine not only specific paths (the best EDI questions, recommended organization of the room, online-only interviews, etc.) but also best practices for overall HR hiring practices. The worst advice includes “ask this question” and “give this answer” typically but also includes advice for length of resumes. 

I have two bad questions: “Where do you want to be in five years?” and “Please identify three of your strengths and three of your weaknesses.”

The first or “five year” question is a no-win for everyone. There IS no right or genuine answer. If someone outlines their retirement you don’t want to invest time in them only to leave. If the applicant says “I want to be in your job” it doesn’t show “your vision for the future” or the fact that you want to assume a leadership position and it certainly doesn’t signal ambition the way some think. If the organization wants to determine if an applicant is interested in moving up eventually or if they are trying to determine if the applicant will – for example – hopping from job to job there are better and more direct questions to determine an applicants next role or if they are possible successors or have an interest in succession planning.

The second question of strengths and weaknesses is – obviously – an opportunity for applicant self-assessment. As the first question – it doesn’t typically produce authentic answers but instead – if applicants have thought about it – strengths identified might be valuable, but weaknesses are strengths re-positioned such as “I pay too much attention to detail.” If the organization needs to know specific elements they should instead – list some strengths and list some weaknesses and ask applicants to rank these as they pertain to their potential roles and responsibilities. 

Finally some ideas not recommended include:

  • Don’t feel obligated to squeeze your resume into one page or less as we often hear. Clearly a lengthy resume is too much but it is better to be accurate, organized and specific to the position being advertised and that is seldom able to be reduced to one page.
  • Resumes that lead with a single job goal quickly become out-of-date. It is best to state areas of work interested in and map education, experience and competencies and attributes against job descriptions/job advertisements identified in cover letters or in attached documents such as a statement of professionalism or a values statement.

and finally and most importantly

Job seekers should be very, very careful about the content a search firm or professional employment consultant creates to represent you on a resume or document packet or specific position or job search. Specifically – positions held, job titles, specific roles and responsibilities, length of employment professional goals, values, promotions or job trajectory in one or more organizations, or products produced as exemplary of education or experience. 

Why? I can recall more than one situation where documents didn’t parallel, answers to questions didn’t jive, job titles were similar but inflated, reference check information wasn’t the same as applicant paperwork had implied and – literally – the applicant’s narrative about their work life was simply not accurate. It is also obvious to say that with today’s alternate avenues for finding out about applicants through web resources and often an applicant’s own web-published content – great care must be taken to be accurate, to be proactive about possible discrepancies and to be forthcoming about addressing appropriate interview questions. Simply put, advice to inflate or better represent oneself or to stretch the truth is never good advice.


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

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It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian

Gemma Doyle is currently the Collection Development Manager at EBSCO, managing a team of other collection development librarians for the Books program. She spent over a decade as a paraprofessional in various library systems in the US and Canada before becoming a librarian. She worked in public and special libraries before moving over to the library vendor sphere with EBSCO. 

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

The application is screened by HR for bare essentials (MLS, etc.), phone screen by hiring manager or HR, first full interview by hiring manager, second interview by members of the team (2-3 people)

Titles hired include: Collection Management Specialist 1/Collection Management Specialist 2

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ The position’s supervisor 

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

√ 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?

The candidate had extensive experience in library work: had worked in different kinds of libraries, had supervisory experience, had handled a large budget used over multiple library departments, and had extensive achievements under each of these points of experience.  Their wide breadth of experience meant that they were comfortable doing just about any aspect of librarianship.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Someone who is inflexible and doesn’t have the ability to self-motivate will not last in this environment.  We work with so many stakeholders, and the work has such a fast pace that flexibility and motivation qualities in candidates really are necessary.

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

What they work like under pressure; how they really handle conflict.

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?

For jobs with us in particular, I would say making assumptions about the job even after we explain its requirements.  Library vendor work can be very different from working in an actual library, and it’s hard to convey fully to candidates what a corporate, for-profit environment can be like to work in as compared to working in a library, even if the job is for librarians. Some candidates may find that’s not an environment they thrive in if they’ve never experienced it.

In general, I think candidates want so much to sell themselves to the interviewer that they forget that interviewing should be a two-way street.  They should be asking a lot of questions to determine if they job is actually right for them, too. 

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

Yes – every position on our team is permanently remote, so we do all interviewing virtually, even if they are local candidates.  As for shining, mostly the same things in a face-to-face interview – preparation, double-checking time zones, etc. but also try not to let any technical difficulties throw you for a loop.  Interviews are nerve-wracking for everyone, including the interviewer, but dealing with issues as they arise and being flexible around them is going to give everyone a good impression.  

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 spent a lot of my early career as a paraprofessional, so I understand some of the nuances of making that transition. Mostly, I think it comes down to mindset.  It’s okay if you don’t have experience working as a librarian, but you need to demonstrate that you can think like a librarian.  While you can answer the “tell me about a time when” questions using paraprofessional examples, you should also throw in “as a librarian, I would” answers. I’m going to want to know that I don’t need to train you on how a librarian should handle certain things, or even explain that there are differences there.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the information provided at the interview (in the phone screen)

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

Every candidate is asked the same questions in the same order (with follow up questions relevant to them, of course); all interviewers attend anti-bias classes before hiring begins. The training is only as good as the intentions of those doing the hiring, and HR doesn’t really monitor the actual hiring process or ask candidates for feedback on the process, which I think would be helpful.

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

What’s the day-to-day job like? Is there an onboarding and training plan in place? What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the job and the organization? are the ones that I think will give candidates insight on what it’s really like to work here.  The most important thing for them to know is that working for a for-profit company is going to sometimes be at odds with the ideals of librarianship, mostly in small ways but some big ones.  We try to stress that in interviews with candidates, but culture shock still hits hard whenever we hire anyone new. Candidates should definitely try to get a feel for the organization so they can make a choice that feels good for them.

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 (our team is all remote)

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, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Suburban area

Further Questions: Should candidates send thank you cards?

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:

Classic interview advice is to send hand-written thank you cards after the interview. Is this actually good advice? What are your recommendations for post-interview etiquette in regards to thank you notes, follow ups via phone/email, providing additional information, etc.? Bonus question: Do you have examples, either from your own interview history or from candidates you have worked with, where conduct after the interview has influenced the hiring decision?


Amy Tureen (she/her/hers), Head, Library Liaison Program, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas: I believe sending thank you notes following an interview is a good practice, but not a requirement. A handwritten note is always nice and will be received with pleasure, but an email thank you will be remembered just as fondly as well. Given recent changes in mail processing speeds and depending on the recruitment schedule, it’s entirely possible a written thank you note will arrive well after a decision has been made, so the arrival or non-arrival of a card really should not have a role in the decision process. Some folks bring thank you notes, envelopes, and stamps with them to interview so they can drop their cards in the local mail system before they leave town. This is a good example of thinking ahead but, again, not required. Thank you notes (virtual or physical) generally only leave the impression that the candidate is polite and/or acculturated to white American corporate working norms. It is never a deciding factor in my experience. That being said, I have been told more than once by new employers that I was the only person who sent a thank you note (suggesting it is indeed noticed, even if it is not a deciding factor). I have also been on one search committee that was very excited to receive handmade, handwritten thank you cards incorporating art the candidate had made of the library following their visit. We were already excited about the candidate in question, but we were also pleased to see an example of the artistic skills and craftiness of the candidate who was, at that time, applying for a position which sought those specific skills.


Jaime Taylor, Discovery & Resource Management Systems Coordinator, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts: You probably should not be sending hand-written thank-you notes at this point! I certainly do not expect them, and I don’t think I’ve received any in the approximately five years I’ve been working on hiring. Current etiquette dictates that you could send an email thank you. For one thing, it will get to the people you are thanking much quicker and more reliably than snail mail. For another, the entire application and interview process up to that point has likely been paperless or near so – which would make email totally appropriate.

If you want to send a note, the details are not terribly important. You could send on email to the entire hiring committee, separate emails to each person, or an email to the chair of the committee asking to pass your regards to the committee. Keep it short and sweet – no more than a paragraph. Mention something that was discussed in the interview and your continued enthusiasm for the position or institution. If there’s additional material you’d like to send to the committee, you could say something like, “I’ve attached the slide deck I mentioned from my presentation last year/the article I wrote about the thing we discussed” and then include the file or a link to it. If you are going to send a note, send it within 48 hours of the interview.

That all said, receiving or not receiving a thank you note, email or otherwise, has no bearing on my hiring process. About half of the candidates I interview send them, possibly a little less, and I do not think it’s necessary. We evaluate candidates on their ability to do the job they are applying for, as laid out in the job description, and a thank you note has no bearing on that.


Larry Eames, Instruction Librarian, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado Colorado Springs: The advice to send a hand-written thank you note makes essentially zero sense in today’s day and age. I’ve never received one as a search committee member and I would never expect one. That said, I’m always chuffed to get a thank you email. It’s never consciously influenced my decision making—to me sending a thank you note is one of those corporate shibboleths that people may or may not have been taught and therefore shouldn’t be used to make actual choices—but it is a nice thing to do.

If you’re going to send one, I recommend tailoring it to the interview. The formula I use is “Thank you for taking the time to interview me [today/yesterday]. I particularly enjoyed hearing about [thing you talked about]. I would be excited to join your team for [reason]. Please let me know if I can provide any additional information or documents.” I’ve never been asked for additional information nor have I ever sent any, but I suppose the thank you note could be a chance to include a detail you forgot to mention or didn’t get a chance to mention in the interview.


Gemma Doyle, Collection Development Manager, EBSCO: Thank you notes can be such a divisive topic.  I have worked with hiring managers who would automatically discard candidates who didn’t send them, which I think is a terrible practice.  As a hiring manager, you want the best candidate for the job, not necessarily the one that sends the most effusive thank you note, or any thank you note at all, but the fact that some people take it so seriously means that candidates really do need to send them. 

That being said, I would definitely encourage candidates to email instead of writing a handwritten thank you note.  Email is more immediate and more likely to get to the hiring manager more quickly, and if you have any questions in your note, it’s so much easier for them to just hit reply and answer them.  Hiring, at least in my experience, is a time-consuming process that I have to fit in at the edges of doing my actual day-to-day work, so anything you can do that makes things easier for me is appreciated. For that reason, a lot of post-interview follow up from candidates can be challenging.  I always give candidates an idea of what the hiring timeline looks like, but things can happen on our side that stretch it out unexpectedly.  Obviously, if you have questions or are missing information that I mentioned sending to you on anything you’d need to make a decision about the job, please follow up and ask for it.  But I think a lot of advice out there tells candidates to follow up to keep themselves in the hiring manager’s mind, which is completely unnecessary.  If we want to offer you a position, I promise we won’t forget about you! 


Alison M. Armstrong, Collection Management Librarian, Radford University: Handwritten cards can be a way to set yourself apart from other candidates but the timing is a challenge with the speed of some hiring decisions (following in-person interviews, anyway, it can feel glacial during the process) and the pace of the postal service. I know some search committees schedule candidate interviews in quick succession and have a meeting to choose the candidate the day following the last interview. Short of handing the notes to them in person, they may not reach them until after a decision has been made.

Instead, or in addition, I recommend sending an email to the people you met during your interview as a way to ensure they receive it before a decision is made. I also recommend making it as personal as possible – something that tells them that you remember them and the interaction you had.

In terms of further communication, they will reach out to you if they need additional information. If you think the process is dragging and you haven’t heard anything for a while, there are multiple things that may be happening. More than likely, you have not been selected however, it is best to let the process play out since you never know. But, it may be time to move on to the next job opening.

If you interviewed, you should hear something in a reasonable amount of time but, as with all things human relations related, there are different perceptions about who can do what in which situation which means that the search committee members may not feel comfortable reaching out to candidates. This may mean you hear from them later than you would think reasonable.


Ellen Mehling, Job Search Advisor/Instructor and Brooklyn Public Library’s Job Information Resource Librarian: I recommend sending a thank you email, not a handwritten note. It should be short and sweet (one paragraph is fine) and personalized – if you were interviewed by a panel, send each person who interviewed you a separate message.

Strictly speaking the “thank you” is not required. The fact that you’re sending the thank you message is almost more important than its content. It shows courtesy and respect, and professionalism. It’s true that some interviewers don’t care about thank yous, but others do, and not sending one may be a point against you with them, so it is best to just send it.

You can and should mention something that came up during the interview, and you can give new information if you forgot to mention something you want the recipient(s) to know about, but understand that your chance at selling yourself was during the interview, so you shouldn’t think of the “thank you” as a way to share any substantial info about yourself. If the hiring manager / committee was not going to have you move forward in the hiring process after the interview, your thank you message is not likely to change their minds no matter what you write.

Most of the time when post-interview conduct affects a hiring decision is when the conduct is negative in some way – like aggressive, repeated follow-up or any other kind of pushy, entitled behavior. It is a good idea to ask at the end of the interview “What is the next step in the hiring process? What is the best way for me to follow up?” and then follow those instructions, or if you didn’t ask about that and received no info about when you would be hearing from the employer, I would follow up only once, maybe a week or two later, via email. After that you’ve done everything you could re: getting that job, and if you continue to contact the employer it will hurt your chances rather than help.


Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: I don’t ever remember being taught much about interviewing in any of my graduate school experiences. So the thing about writing a thank-you note wasn’t something I did at first. I’ll have to admit that I can take it or leave it. I understand that it is an opportunity for a candidate to acknowledge being grateful for the interview (which, in fact, they earned, it was not a gift). I have never viewed it as required. And these days I do not mind at all receiving an email expressing thanks which has happened. Would I change my opinion of a candidate if I did not receive a thank-you? I don’t think so.
I always want to conclude an interview by letting the candidate know the approximate timeline. Given that a search committee doesn’t always control all the moving pieces of a search, including making offers and negotiating, the timeline is always a bit uncertain. I would recommend that candidates not contact the search chair for follow-up unless (a) their situation has changed or they might not be reachable for a while), or (b) it is after the interval when the search chair indicated work would be ongoing. I would also recommend that a search chair reach out to candidates if there is going to be a delay that will affect all candidates.If, during the interview, something came up and a candidate feels the search committee would benefit from additional information then I think it’s fine for that person to reach out to the search chair (who can see that others receive it if relevant). It can get awkward if a candidate sends on unsolicited information which might lead to a chair needing to contact other candidates so there is consistency and equity. I don’t think this happens often but I strongly encourage erring on the side of not offering up unsolicited materials.


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Kathryn Levenson, Librarian, Piedmont High School: Thank you notes are something that I think many people feel are passé. I was raised to always write a paper thank you note. Lately, people seem just as happy to get a quick “Thank you for taking time to interview me” via email. I do think that it can be a way to get that last bit of marketing in. Maybe there was something short that the candidate did not get to say at the interview. So, maybe the candidates forgot to say. For example, responding to a question about resolving issues with a group of students, perhaps the candidate writes, “I forgot to say at the interview that I was a camp counselor for three summers with children from 8 to 12 years old. During that time, I was able to learn techniques from other counselors and to resolve some issues successfully on my own.”

So the short answer is that if I get a thank you note, I think, that was really nice, but it probably would not influence my hiring decision.


Julie Todaro, Dean, Library Services, Austin Community College: Applicants can’t guarantee – in many organizations – and especially in today’s workplaces – if “handwritten notes” or any U.S. mail will come to them in a timely manner. Basically this is due to slow downs in postal deliveries (fewer staff) as well as fewer staff in organizations tasked with receiving and redistributing mail. Also – and hopefully this is temporary- hybrid schedules, all online interviews and reduced hours and closed locations means that a letter may sit somewhere that – prior to current times – received and processed information twice a day.  In fact, I was part of an online discussion recently where several vendors were talking about their print/paper/mailout budget vs. their online advertising (look and technique) and what they were moving for marketing and advertising. The discussion was spot on in focusing on speed and avenues of distribution as well as “look” that is, did people want their online catalogs to “look” like their print/paper ones or not – as well as – librarians have marked up, annotated, posted notes and communicated through print/paper catalogs at work (round robin, posted information, etc.) for decades…so how do they highlight, annotate or mark up online publisher’s catalogs? or aggregator lists? or email announcements? 
With that said, I will say don’t hand write a thank you but send follow up communication as such:
Best format?

  • Email to the chair and each committee member – or
  • Email to the chair and ask them to distribute as they see fit – or
  • Email to the Administrative Assistant in the process and ask them to distribute
  • Create any of these emails as formal letters including content within the email
  • Create a thank you note as an attachment and attach it to the email to any of the first three emails addressed first in this list

Why send?

  • You may want to correct something you may have said incorrectly in the interview (Ex – (I left out an example of education I would like to share in this follow up, etc.” or “I realize my resume reflects this while I share this….”)
  • Consider expanding a question you might now feel you have more valuable information on after reflection or self assessment. (Ex – I indicated my proficiency level was intermediate but in reflection and realization that I have both in-depth education and experience, I know my level of expertise is advanced and I welcome the opportunity to discuss if that is needed. Also, I have attached the outcomes/summary of my most recent certification in this area as well.”)
  • Send a second example of a product (They may have requested original work and you are now sending or linking them to additional original work or original instructional design AND content or pictures of you giving that program and the audience responding or even a video clip of you at work giving a book talk or storytime.”) 
  • Provide any information they asked for such as “timeline for starting the position” “willingness regarding salary discussion,” etc.

and – of course – the usual – “Thank you so much for the opportunity to interview.” but make it more robust …include:

  • a reiteration of how much you want the position – or
  • a reaffirmation of your fit for the organization – or
  • your enthusiasm for a possible acceptance – or

Finally – am I aware of any minds being changed? Not specifically for the good, but interestingly, I have had people point out why they made the mistakes they made …or why they chose to emphasize this rather than that. This insight is good but hasn’t moved any “don’t hire” to the “hire list.”


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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

Titles hired include: Circulation Supervisor, Circulation Clerk, Maintenance

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Other: Executive Director

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

√ Online application

√ Resume

√ References

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

No

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

Does their work match their words

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Two is ok, but no more

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

CV: √ We don’t ask for this

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ It’s part of the job ad

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Suburban

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

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

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Titles hired include: Director, cataloguer, Circulation desk

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ Library Administration

√ A Committee or panel

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

√ Online application

√ Cover letter

√ Resume

√ CV

√ References

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Demonstration (teaching, storytime, etc)

√ More than one round of interviews

√ A meal with hiring personnel 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ No 

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

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

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

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

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ Only One!

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ We only discuss after we’ve made an offer

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

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

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

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

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Rural

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 0-10

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

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

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

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

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

Ask questions tailored to the person interviewing you.

Headshot of Karen K. Reczek. She grasps her chin and smiles against a light blue background

Karen K. Reczek is a Social Scientist within the Standards Coordination Office (SCO) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Karen works with high level Federal, State, Local & private sector officials to coordinate standards development and standards research to identify and support development of standard activities and programs to meet Federal needs. Previously Karen worked at Bureau Veritas CPS as Senior Manager, Information Resources Center for 14 years and prior to that at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Scientific and Information Resources and Services.  For over 30 years, Karen has served in various leadership positions in SLA, including elected and appointed positions at the SLA International, Community level. She is the winner of 2018 SLA John Cotton Dana Award.  She is currently President, SES: Society for Standards Professionals. 

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

Write description and skills requirements; work with HR to post the job; HR screens candidates that make a qualifying list; supervisor selects people to interview; panel interviews and makes selection in ranked order. HR extends offer. 

Titles hired include: Information Specialist

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 

√ Proof of degree

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

Does your organization use automated application screening? 

√ Yes 

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

Short answers that answered the questions. Articulate, organized in their approach, good examples, personable, and asked good questions. 

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Won’t look me in the eye, even on camera! No questions for me. Unorganized responses or responses that make it clear the person did not understand the questions nor did they ask to clarify. 

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

Their real ability to let go of set ways and learn new things and continue to adapt to the role should it change. I try to ask behavioral interview questions to get some of this revealed. 

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

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

Not researching the organization, or the department/divisions; not coming prepared to ask questions; not being prepared at all.

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

Yes, recently. See above. Turn your camera on. Make “eye” contact”; smile. Be brief. Ask clarifying questions.

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?

No need to convince me. I know it’s possible. Just offered an administrative person and info specialist role because they seemed very capable of owning the role and doing quality work once trained. 

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?

HR’s new system is supposed to start to try and address that. Yet, it still exists. 

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

About opportunities for growth – like do you support belonging to professional orgs, attending conferences, opportunities for advancement. How the department works; what the supervisor’s style is and expectations; what the role is and responsibilities and what training will be offered to learn the job, etc. 

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Northeastern US

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 201+ 

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

Do your homework. Be prepared. Ask questions tailored to the person interviewing you. Ask HR about culture and training. Ask the hiring manager about day to day responsibilities, management style, work environment, etc. The job hunter is interviewing the organization just as much as the organization is interviewing the job hunter. Don’t forget that. Try to learn about the culture. Sometimes that’s make or break once you get there and realize it is not a good fit. 

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

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 200+ staff members, Northeastern US, Other Organization or Library Type, Urban area