Tag Archives: Omaha Public Library

Further Questions: When and how should candidates check-in after an interview (if at all)?

This week’s question is related to last week’s, but about a later stage of the process. I asked people who hire librarians:

When and how should candidates check-in after an interview (if at all)? Have you ever told someone you’d get back to them by a certain time, and then not been able to do so?

Cathi AllowayWe give interviewed candidates an approximate decision date, but encourage them to call us if the date passes and they have not heard from us. I explain that deadlines are sometimes compromised because we sometimes need additional approvals from the library board or local government officials that may be delayed. We will also tell really good candidates that if they get an offer from somewhere else while they are waiting to hear from us, to feel free to call about it so we can work with them as they make their important decision.

– Catherine Alloway, Director, Schlow Centre Region Library

Laurie PhillipsOther than sending a thank you email, I don’t know if it would help to check in. I have had people send follow-up materials that were mentioned during the interview. Yes, there may be a reason why the final decision is delayed (the Dean is out, the Provost’s office hasn’t given us the final go-ahead, a committee member is ill), but in general, we meet to decide as soon after the final candidate as possible. A candidate should find out what the interview schedule is while they are interviewing (are they first, last, what is the schedule). That way they should know when to expect to hear. Otherwise, if the committee is still bringing in candidates, we’re fairly busy with that and may not have a lot of time to respond. Keep in mind, I cannot notify the unsuccessful candidates until I have an absolute yes from the successful candidate. At that point, I write emails to the unsuccessful candidates who visited campus. I have asked job seekers if they prefer email to a phone call and have been told that they prefer email because they don’t have an awkward conversation with me and don’t get their hopes up when I call.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

I agree with some of the posters from last week. I don’t think that an applicant should “check in” once they have submitted an application, unless they have forgotten to include something, they really want the search committee to know about.  The only other time may be when they are being considered for another position, but they prefer yours and really want/need to know if they are being actively considered, so that they can make a decision.  I have to admit that it is a tad annoying to me as a potential employer or search committee chair to receive phone calls, especially repeated calls from the same person.   I understand from many years of doing this, that the search process can take a long time, and it is frustrating for a candidate to be left hanging.  But the cogs move pretty slowly in academia sometimes, often due to conflicting schedules for meetings, and/or large candidate pools.  I’m afraid that I think it is best to just wait out the process, unless one of the two reasons above are the case.  I don’t mean to sound hard about this, because I, like most people, have been on both sides of the process.  However, everyone needs to remember that search committees want to finish their work and select a candidate as soon as possible too.  None of us is trying to cause hardships for candidates. Once the candidates get a job and serve on a search committee, I think they will better understand why the searches can often take an inordinate amount of time, as frustrating as that can be.

– Sharon Britton, Library Director, BGSU – Firelands

Marleah AugustineI think it’s best if candidates let at least a week go by. Sometimes the interview process is not even finished and I get calls from candidates. I appreciate their eagerness, but I just don’t have anything I can tell them at that point.
I’ve always (knock on wood) been able to get back to people on time.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
Manya ShorrIn my current situation, I’d rather people don’t check in at all within the first two-three weeks after the interview. I know it’s extremely frustrating to wait for a response and that it seems like nothing is happening, but I ask applicants to trust that things are moving forward. There are a myriad of things that could be happening behind the scenes. For example: a panel member may have gone on vacation right after the interview (recently happened here..with two panelists), we may be calling references (do you know how hard it can be to connect with references?), you may be our second choice and we’re waiting to hear if the first person accepts the position (in fact, we may be flying them out here to visit before offering them the position). I’m aware that it feels like torture and it is never our intention to make applicants suffer, but there are protocols in place that we have to follow. So, please, be patient. I promise we have not forgotten about you and we will be in touch soon.
– Manya Shorr, Senior Manager, Branch Services, Omaha Public Library

Randall SchroederI have never had that situation, but if I did miss a promised deadline a quick e-mail asking what is the status of the search would not be received poorly.

One reason that this situation has not been my experience is if I give candidates a ballpark idea of when they will hear back, it is usually a simple matter to send out an e-mail explaining, in general, what the delay is about. If I am down to a few on-campus interviews, it is no hardship to send out a couple of e-mails. If it is more global than that, our new HR software allows me to send out group e-mails quite readily.

My general feeling is that people’s imaginations will come up with much worse explanations in the absence of information. It will save all us much anxiety if I can give candidates an honest answer about the timeline when possible.

In short, I want my candidates, especially my finalists, to feel valued. Why start off a potential collegial working relationship with preventable hard feelings?

– Randall Schroeder, Department Head of Public Services, Ferris Library for Information & Technology Education

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

Thank YOU for reading!

Tall and tan and young and lovely, the comment from Ipanema gets posted


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Public

Now Hiring: Omaha Public Library

Want to work with one of Hiring Librarian’s People Who Hire Librarians?
Deadline to apply:Today! 2/7/2013

Manya ShorrManya Shorr is the senior manager for Branch Services at the Omaha Public library.  She has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. Manya’s work to bring new adults, single people, and the business community into Omaha’s Swanson branch earned her a spot as a 2010 Mover and Shaker.  OPL has between 100-200 staff members. It is an

essential catalyst, collaborator and connector

for the vibrant city of Omaha (yes, really!). Not sold on working there? Here is what they say about their employees:

We recognize our staff as our greatest resource. We are passionate about our work, we have fun, and we work together as a team. We trust each other and respect diverse ideas.

What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?

A desire to serve the public and enthusiasm about public libraries
Knowledge of what’s happening in libraries around the world (professional candidates only)
Inquisitive and excited about the job

Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?

The only thing I see repeatedly are applicants that want to work M-F, 8-5. This is not a realistic schedule for a public library. If someone wants to work in a public library, they should expect to work at least one weekend day and one night every week.

What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?

Personalize your cover letter! I know it’s extremely frustrating to apply for many jobs because it takes so much time but you need to understand that I can tell when you have sent the same letter to multiple organizations. I want you to want to work here. Here, in Omaha. Think of your cover letter as our first date. You need to charm me and make me love you.

Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?

Sometimes it’s hard to understand what someone does on a day-to-day basis. I don’t exactly know the answer (I struggle with this on my own resume) but I find myself filling in the gaps when I read people’s resumes and I never know if I’m accurate.

How many pages should a cover letter be?

√ Only one!

How many pages should a resume/CV be?

√ As many as it takes, but keep it short and sweet

Do you have a preferred format for application documents?

√ .pdf

Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?

√ Other: I don’t think I’ve ever read one that didn’t seem silly and superfluous

If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?

√ Other: At my current library, this is irrelevant, since all applications go through the City Human Resources department first. By the time I see anything, it’s been printed out.

What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?

I wish I could impress upon all applicants how important it is to come in to the interview with enthusiasm and energy. Don’t be shy about talking about yourself and most importantly, don’t discount your accomplishments. Repeatedly, applicants tell me the things they don’t know how to do, rather than all the things they can do. If you haven’t done anything yet, talk about your enthusiasm for it, or what you’ve done to prepare to do this thing in the future.

Also, if you are a recent graduate, don’t assume that your lack of experience is a hinderance. Remember that you can’t read my mind. There’s a strong chance that I’m looking for a new professional to hire. Don’t. Make. Assumptions. Tell me why I should hire you, not why I shouldn’t.

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?

My biggest pet peeve is when applicants tell me what the organization can do for them, rather than what they will bring to the organization. It’s nice that your aunt/grandmother/cousin lives in Omaha, or that you’ve always wanted to live in the Midwest, or this job would be great for your career, but I urge you think about how that sounds to the organization. I’m interested in your success, but primarily I want to know what you can do for my library.

The other thing that bothers me is when an applicant has not done any research into my library and/or service area. Look at the website, check out demographic information about the city, walk through a couple of branches. Any little effort is appreciated. Not all public libraries are the same and painting all of us with the same broad brush is annoying.

Lastly, remember that you are making a first (and often, last) impression. Smile, have a firm handshake, make eye contact, and act like you want to be there. These little things are so often forgotten and are so important. If you don’t make eye contact with me, I have to assume you will not make eye contact with the public either.

Has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?

Not that I know.

Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?

Many public libraries are part of a City/County structure and have very little to do with hiring process. Here in Omaha, the City HR department culls the list of applicants and gives us 3-5 names that we can interview. That’s it. If you are #6, I will never see your name or your application. Sometimes there is a scoring tie and we see more names, but not normally. I also have no control over the timeline. We submit a request to fill the position to HR and then we wait. I know it’s frustrating to be on the other side of things (believe me, I have to apply for jobs too) but try to understand that the library often has little to no control over the process.

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Filed under 100-200 staff members, Midwestern US, now hiring, Public