Randall Schroeder is the Academic Department Head for Public Services at the Ferris State University library (FLITE). Mr. Schroeder has been a hiring manager, and his administrative responsibilities include, but are not limited to, reference and research librarians, the library instruction program, and circulation activities. He also serves as Acting Dean when needed. FLITE has 50-100 staff members. Ferris State University’s main campus is located in Big Rapids, Michigan, with smaller campuses scattered across the lower peninsula. With currently about 14,000 students, Ferris offers graduate and undergraduate degrees with strengths in technology and health services. Mr. Schroeder is also part-owner of the Green Bay Packers, and a regular contributor to Further Questions.
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?
1. People skills.
2. People skills.
3. People skills.
I can teach, or have others teach, technology skills and even a little pedagogy. If you cannot relate to those who use the library and colleagues naturally, that is very, very hard to fix.
Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?
Howling obvious spelling and grammar errors. I understand that it is hard to proofread your own stuff, but that means you don’t have anybody to look it over for you or you are careless. Not getting the name of the school or the library correct will also hurt you.
What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?
I understand that you believe you can do great things, but the letters that stand out to me are ones that articulate how those wonderful skills will work for me and my library. Have you done enough basic research about my school’s situation that you can tell me what you bring to the table that helps?
How many pages should a cover letter be?
√ As many as it takes, but shorter is better
How many pages should a resume/CV be?
√ As many as it takes, but don’t gild the lily. Some things are just doing your job.
Do you have a preferred format for application documents?
Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?
√ Other: I don’t care, but I don’t read them.
If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?
√ Other: I don’t care, but I prefer attachment.
What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?
Make me feel comfortable with you as a person. Are you somebody that I can sit in a three-hour meeting with and not wish to be someplace else?
What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?
Become too nervous. We won’t eat you. We are actually rooting for you to succeed so we don’t feel we wasted all of our time.
How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?
I encourage the process to encourage candidates and references to tell real life stories as examples of the qualities I am looking for. Stories tell the story.
Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?
This is a tough process and a somewhat artificial process. We make an attempt to get to know you as a person, but that is really impossible in the course of a day or two. We probably get it wrong a fair amount of the time, but it isn’t personal. Also understand that no matter how efficient I would like the process to be in order to be fair to the candidates, academe is very, very slow.