Tag Archives: lis jobs

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

if a routine social media scan or other screening reveals a belief in conspiracy theories or misinformation, a library is not an appropriate workplace for that person.

Isabel Miller and Barbara Gittings hugging librarians. NYPL Digital Collections

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Public Library

Title: Director

Titles hired include: Program Coordinator, Library Assistant, Summer Reading Program Coordinator

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ Library Administration

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:

Post a job, schedule an interview, make a preliminary decision, check references, make an offer. I am involved at all levels.

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

Able to anticipate needs–either from a customer service perspective or a library perspective. And a strong service orientation–patrons are not “interrupting” your work they ARE your work.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

We do request a criminal record check. Also if a routine social media scan or other screening reveals a belief in conspiracy theories or misinformation, a library is not an appropriate workplace for that person.

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

How they’ll mesh with the team. Whether they’re someone who has good work follow-through or skates by on charm and personality.

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?

Honestly, not prepping at all. No evidence that they’ve looked at the library’s website, know about its services, or have opinions on how things might be done or what the library is doing well/poorly.

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

Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions. Interest in the institution and the particular place of employment goes a long way.

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?

It really depends what skills I’m looking for. Library Assistant skills can be taught. Library values and knowledge about the library ecosystem are valuable for more senior positions since we have a small team without a lot of time/budget for getting people up to speed. In general though strong service orientation, strong technology skills, and willingness to jump into anything right away (flexibility and enthusiasm) are things that I consider to be important.

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?

We try to hire to reflect our community and specifically for more diversity on staff. In terms of actual mechanisms, we have an equity statement on job ads and sometimes we post the positions with organizations that have connections in various communities, but that’s really about it. Put like that, it sounds like we should be doing more.

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

Something that makes it clear that they understand the position, know something about the library in relation to that position and that they’re interested in learning more about the library, the community, the work and have something to contribute.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Canada 

What’s your region like?

√ Rural 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Never or not anymore 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 11-50 

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

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 10-50 staff members, Canada, Public, Rural area

Metadata models can be intimidating, and this candidate made it seem much more accessible.

WACS with the Army Service Force – Librarian. National Archives.

This anonymous interview is with someone who hires for a:

√ Other: Software vendor

Title: Senior DAM Architect

Titles hired include: Taxonomist, DAM librarian

Who makes hiring decisions at your organization:

√ HR

√ The position’s supervisor

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

√ Other: CEO

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

√ Resume 

√ Supplemental Questions

√ Oral Exam/Structured interview 

√ 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:

I currently hire information professionals as consultants – we’re hoping to start hiring FT roles once this program expands. I start by posting on LinkedIn, both my feed and on relevant professional group pages and will be posting to SLA in the future. I had candidates reach out to me on LinkedIn to start. It allowed me to vet them beyond their resume, and have a brief conversation before moving toward a full initial video interview (or phone, depending on their preference). Once someone passes that, I bring in our customer success managers who handle the areas where these folks would be working. Anyone who wows them moves back to me for follow up, then they provide references. Our head of hiring calls the references and has a lengthy conversation about the candidate and not only their strengths and weaknesses but how they prefer to communicate and the way to get the best out of them. She sends a detailed report to the CEO and me, and we discuss further. If we decide to move forward, I let the candidate know and then the CEO and CFO discuss the contract with them. We’re a small company, so working directly with the CEO isn’t outside the norm. However, a full-time employee may have a slightly different experience, as they won’t be dealing with the CEO for the contract – that will go through the CFO and hiring manager.

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

One of our recent candidates wowed everyone throughout the hiring process. She was knowledgeable but also approachable. She communicated clearly and resisted using industry jargon, except occasionally with me. It was clear that she had a lot of experience and could set clients at ease, which is important as our clients are usually speaking with a taxonomist or librarian because they are starting on their DAM journey or are having issues with an existing DAM. Metadata models can be intimidating, and this candidate made it seem much more accessible.

Do you have any instant dealbreakers?

Inability to communicate clearly and exaggerating experience.

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

Any constraints with working remotely – we have an office but have mostly been hiring full-remote candidates. It would be great to know if they have the appropriate bandwidth or need that to be supplemented, or if they are set up to work comfortably from home, or if they prefer to work in a public place or rent a workspace.

How many pages should each of these documents be?

Cover Letter: √ We don’t ask for this  

Resume: √ Two is ok, but no more  

CV: √ We don’t ask for this 

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

Answering too quickly, which I commonly see leading to not answering the question thoroughly.

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

Yes, as of right now we only hire via virtual interviews due to the pandemic. Show that you can handle the technology – you’re going to need it anyway, so it’s disheartening to see someone who doesn’t know how to work their camera or lights themselves poorly (which I personally find distracting). 

Don’t worry about issues with internet connection or working with a particular video conferencing app for the first time. We have all been there, and it’s good to see how someone handles that. Pivot quickly and over-communicate if there’s an issue. We had a candidate who had construction that knocked out her wi-fi the morning of the call. She let us know immediately and offered a phone interview, which went very well.

Turn any mishaps into an opportunity to show how you can handle these (currently common) issues professionally and efficiently.

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 consider all of the facets of the role I’m hiring for. For better or worse, we typically end up managing our own projects. So project management experience is a plus. As we work with clients, I value experience in customer service. We also work with software engineers on occasion, so any work in that area, even a course on coding, is beneficial.

My advice to candidates is to find the pieces of your experience that you can tie into commonly used skills, even in a setting that you haven’t worked in before. Connect the dots for any hiring managers so they can see how your experience translates.

I would also say that candidates should come with some understanding of why their type of experience could bring new opportunities. One of my best supervisors had been a high school teacher, and that’s where she learned how to work with clients who had different ways of processing information and wrangling a meeting with lots of strong voices. Her skills from that background made her a more attractive candidate for the role she was in, but she had to make sure the hiring manager understood that.

When does your organization *first* mention salary information?

√ Other: Only when we make an offer, but I am hoping to change this.

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

To reduce bias in the interview process, we ensure there are a range of perspectives included and the panel is diverse. 

We currently don’t post in enough places and leverage my own network significantly, since we’re just starting to build out our team. While I try to ensure my network is diverse, posting in places where I’m more likely to reach diverse candidates is hampered because I cannot include the salary with the posting. Once that is fixed, I hope to reach more candidates.

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

They should ask me what tools we use to collaborate and communicate, why I chose to work at the company, and what challenges we’re trying to alleviate with this role.

It is important for candidates to know about our most recent (public) wins and that we service a wide range of clients. I would love for candidates to come into an interview with some basic knowledge of our product, whether that be from asking contacts who work with the tool or visiting our Youtube channel and/or our site. I’d hope any candidates who haven’t worked in digital asset management have read up on why librarians are important to the field and what skill sets they need to use.

Additional Demographics

What part of the world are you in?

√ Western US 

What’s your region like?

√ Urban 

Is your workplace remote/virtual?

√ Some of the time and/or in some positions 

How many staff members are at your organization?

√ 51-100 

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

I would add more options for the type of organizations – none of my previous roles have been in those types of environments. I would include something software-related, as there are so many of us working for companies like Spotify or Netflix or software vendors, like me. I only worked for a library in grad school.

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

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Filed under 1 A Return to Hiring Librarians Survey, 50-100 staff members, Other Organization or Library Type, Urban area, Western US

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

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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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

Further Questions: How did you learn to hire people?

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

This week’s question is:

How did you learn to hire people? What did you learn through formal training versus through mistakes, mentoring, or some other method? Are there trainings or tools you would recommend?


Photo of Celia after finishing a marathon first in her age group. She wears an orange shirt and has a medal

Celia Rabinowitz, Dean of Mason Library, Keene State College: I love this question! This is so not something that any of us learns in library school (at least I didn’t) and that might actually be more useful than some of the management topics we did cover (granted, I went to library school in 1991-1992 so a few things have changed).

Most of what I have learned has come from a combination of the experiences of being a candidate myself, being a member of a search committee, and chairing a search committee. I did not receive any formal training beyond the obligatory sessions with Human Resources staff that are a part of every search I have done. That work focuses primarily on issues around consistent and equitable process, reminders about what kinds of questions are illegal to ask, and now attention to DEI commitments.

My strongest recommendation is to find opportunities to participate on search committees. They can be a lot of work but it is rewarding and an important contribution to the life of your organization. If you have the chance to be on a committee for a department completely outside the library, take it, and that includes searches for very senior administrative positions. These are really great opportunities to get to know coworkers and the process. Then – remember that this process is really much more an art than a science. We have all experienced wonderful candidate visits, a successful hire, and then a struggle with a colleague who does not turn out to be what we expected. And most of us have wondered if that candidate with the dismal interview experience might really turn out to be just who we need.

I don’t have training or tools to recommend. I do encourage thinking about what questions you have for candidates that you think will really help you understand them and give them some insight to the organization they are interested in joining. In my experience, search committee members find themselves aligning much more than you might think about which candidates seem strongest. And leaving space if you have it for a long shot can be a smart move.


Alison M. Armstrong, Collection Management Librarian, McConnell Library, Radford University: Some, I learned through trial and error. Experience has taught me that I should usually trust myself. Other things were from blogs like this one. I learned a lot from talking to other managers.

In conversations with colleagues, friends, and family, I listen to their experiences and we talk through things and different perspectives. The confidential nature of hiring and management can make talking about current issues or questions a challenge. This can have a soloing effect and make you feel like you are working in isolation but, talking in general terms, and broadly speaking about past experiences can allow information sharing and learning from others to occur.

Hearing about the experiences of others in a variety of professions can be beneficial. You never know when a piece of information will stick with you for you to apply months or years later.


Jimmie Epling, Director, Darlington County Library System:

How did you learn to hire people? Learning to hire people is an ongoing task. The way you hire people changes with the introduction of new laws or the reinterpretation of existing laws, societal trends, the latest recommended management practices, and the staff involved in the process. This said, it seems the library science programs generally do a poor job of training students in employment practices. The best training for me came by way of continuing education lead by human resources managers, especially SHRM certified managers, and labor attorneys.

What did you learn through formal training versus through mistakes, mentoring, or some other method? The best hiring practices and advice came through formal training. The formal training was impactful because it spoke to the costly financial consequences on an organization just by an accusation can have and the simple ways such could be avoided. You don’t want to learn by your mistakes. Mentoring is helpful, but there are practices that a mentor may encourage that are really unproductive for all involved, such as courtesy interviews.

Are there trainings or tools you would recommend? The best training is lead by human resources managers, especially SHRM certified managers, and labor attorneys. A good resource is the Allied Professional Association of the American Library Association’s “Library Worklife: HE E-News for Today’s Leaders” (http://ala-apa.org/newsletter/). “Library Worklife” is a great resource for the latest labor legislative news that also includes information on trends and the latest practices.


Hilary Kraus, Research Services Librarian, University of Connecticut: I haven’t seen much formal training for members of search committees in the academic libraries in which I’ve worked. Typically it covered what it is and isn’t legal to ask or do, along with internal HR policies such as using a matrix to evaluate candidates. Most of what I’ve learned about good (and bad) hiring practices is based on personal experience either as a member of a search committee or as a candidate. In the last few years, I’ve become very interested in humane hiring practices, and I’ve seen an uptick in webinars and conference sessions on topics like inclusivity, reducing bias, and how to treat candidates kindly and fairly. If you’re in higher education, ACRL has been producing some quality content in this area. Unfortunately, you really have to seek out these kinds of trainings yourself. I would love to see more guidance in this area for search committees as they’re formed. At a very basic level, I would encourage folks who are tapped to be part of those committees to really consider what they would like their own experience to be as a candidate, and try to apply that to the work they do.


Laurie Phillips, Interim Dean of Libraries, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans: I started learning about the search/hiring process in library school. My academic library management class (with Anne Woodsworth) was one of the most valuable courses I had. I was the only student in the class who was job hunting at the time, so we used my experiences as a case study. Then, after I got here, I was on faculty search committees from the beginning. We have a regular process, which has been honed over time. The biggest change is that we no longer talk about all of the candidates from the beginning. We have a grid and anyone we agree on, either yes or no, we don’t spend time discussing in depth before first round interviews. We also err on the side of more interviews in the first round because you gain a lot from just talking to someone. The biggest evolution of our process is interview questions. HR gave us some great questions several years ago and we have developed a pool of questions we start with, then write questions to get at particular aspects of the job. The question we ask ourselves is “What do we need to know from them to make a good decision?” I have developed very good instincts about candidates and fit over the years. Several years ago, I interviewed a man for one position and I said to the dean at the time, “I think he’s great, but is better suited working for me (in information resources) than for this position.” A year later, I had an opening and hired him. He’s been amazing.


Randall Schroeder, Director, Retired: The most valuable thing I did to get a grasp on hiring after 20 years of being a public service librarian and not in charge of hiring was to take a summer class on library administration at the University of Wisconsin. It was taught by a veteran library director from the La Crosse Public Library. She gave the class tools that would allow them to tease out what we needed to know about candidates. The most useful tool was to get the candidates to tell stories about their experiences. That goes a long way to establish their social and people skills. I’ve found that people skills can be the most difficult to get a handle on during the interview process. Learning about interview skills in a classroom setting and not learning those skills by guess and by golly during a hiring process made it much more relaxed and those techniques stuck. You had time to think about those skills and let them sink in. There was never a hiring process where I didn’t use those skills I learned in Madison.

The other teachable moments were simply learning from horrible interviews during my job searches. The question that always came into my mind while designing a process was a variation on the George Constanza conundrum from the old Seinfeld show (George, what is your first instinct? Do the opposite). Especially when it came to the treatment of candidates, I would find myself asking, “what would (fill in the blank) College do? Do the opposite. My goal was to make interviews and the process as humane as possible. I appreciated it with the libraries and colleges that also had a reasonably humane process. I never wanted to be the anecdote of a hellish interview afterwards.

Finally, I will pass this tidbit I learned from a business professor who was on a search committee with me at a university in Michigan. “Which candidate would you be willing to be stuck with during a flight delay at O’Hare Airport?” When in doubt, go with that candidate.


Interested in more discussion? Comment here or take a look at Twitter; I asked the same question there earlier in the week.

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A webpage or electronic portfolio with previous work is a must.

Fish MarketThis anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

Public services/reference librarians

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in an  suburban area rural area in the Southern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ 25-75

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

Met minimum qualifications and had the skills we were looking for/needed.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

All applications were evaluated by the search committee.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

Did not meet minimum qualifications.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ No

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

Be able to demonstrate the needed/required skills. A webpage or electronic portfolio with previous work is a must.

I want to hire someone who is

adaptable

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 1

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 2

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are the same number of positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

Varies by position, but any kind of experience is a big plus.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ Yes

Why or why not?

I could go on for hours. Want to get coffee? The profession is not keeping up with the changes in information publication and dissemination and changes in higher education. Library school curriculum is mostly the same as it was 15-20 years ago, and far, far too many librarians simply want to do what they did in their jobs 15-20 years ago. So many experienced librarians think technology is only something “young” people know about and refuse to learn about emerging technology. More and more academic libraries need to demonstrate impact on student learning and retention, difficult enough, and without the ability to change and adapt and re-define what librarianship is that will just not happen. Not just demonstrating the impact, but actually making an impact. Because we really do not need someone with a master’s degree demonstrating how to use a discovery tool to undergrads. Librarians need to learn to do something more, better, and different to survive. Of course, a lot of people will answer this question with the usual “hip, hip, hooray” nonsense about being passionate about librarianship and how great it is, but that is doing nothing to keep the profession relevant. We need critical eyes to evaluate the profession and make changes. Who is going to do that? Certainly not ALA or ACRL.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Southern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area

I would rather hire somebody who has a ton of IT experience or has a PhD in education or who actually understands about research than a person who only has an MLIS

Paramaribo market scene. Women and men. 1922.This anonymous interview is with an academic librarian who has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring or search committee. This person hires the following types of LIS professionals:

just librarians, plain and simple

This librarian works at a library with 10-50 staff members in a suburban area in the Northeastern US.

Approximately how many people applied for the last librarian (or other professional level) job at your workplace?

√ more than 100, but less than 200

Approximately what percentage of those would you say were hirable?

√ 25% or less

And how would you define “hirable”?

someone who met our characteristics of what we specified in the job description. We even had people apply who didn’t yet have their degrees. That job was specifically for someone with supervisory experience, and hardly anybody had that.

How are applications evaluated, and by whom?

HR doesn’t weed out any. They are evaluated by a committee using the position announcement.

What is the most common reason for disqualifying an applicant without an interview?

They don’t have any professional library experience at all.

Do you (or does your library) give candidates feedback about applications or interview performance?

√ Other: sometimes

What is the most important thing for a job hunter to do in order to improve his/her/their hirability?

In your resume, don’t give me the generic “sat at reference desk, delivered instruction” when describing your reference & instruction experience. I already know exactly what a reference & instruction librarian does. Tell me HOW YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE.

Oh yeah, and get a crapload of IT knowledge too.

I want to hire someone who is

ambitious

How many staff members are at your library/organization?

√ 10-50

How many permanent, full time librarian (or other professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ Other: 0

How many permanent, full time para-professional (or other non-professional level) jobs has your workplace posted in the last year?

√ 1

Can you tell us how the number of permanent, full-time librarian positions at your workplace has changed over the past decade?

√ There are more positions

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with part-time or hourly workers over the past decade?

√ No

Have any full-time librarian positions been replaced with para-professional workers over the past decade?

√ No

Does your workplace require experience for entry-level professional positions? If so, is it an official requirement or just what happens in practice?

Even for entry-level professional positions, we look for experience, like an internship or a grad student job in a library. We have in the past specifically advertised for “new graduates” with 5 years or less since their MLIS. But even those, we were looking for someone with a little experience.

Is librarianship a dying profession?

√ Yes

Why or why not?

In the sense that you need a “library degree.” That was just a hoop to jump through 25 years ago, and it’s a hoop to jump through now. I would rather hire somebody who has a ton of IT experience or has a PhD in education or who actually understands about research than a person who only has an MLIS. The MLIS is just for enculturation. There is NOTHING, and I mean nothing, unique about library knowledge. Give me a good, knowledgeable person, and I can indoctrinate them into librarianship on the job.

Do you hire librarians?  Take this survey: http://tinyurl.com/hiringlibjobmarketsurvey or take other Hiring Librarians surveys.

For some context, look at the most recent summary of responses.

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Filed under 10-50 staff members, Academic, Northeastern US, State of the Job Market 2015, Suburban area