Tag Archives: Skype

Researcher’s Corner: What Not to Do During the Interview

Which is more useful, a prescription or a proscription?  In the case of hiring, I’m more interested in the latter.  Identification of common errors helps candidates avoid mistakes without creating a legion of cookie-cutter candidates, all using the same approach for success.  I’m pleased to present this description of research performed by Melissa Laning and Emily Stenberg, who analyzed 36 essays and came up with the following results.

How can a job applicant stand out – in a good way – from other applicants?  This question is highly relevant for the new MLS graduate applying for jobs since many entry-level positions receive 100+ applications.  On the basis of research we conducted in 2011/2012 and our combined experiences with the recruitment process, we have identified the top 3 behaviors to avoid when you are on the job market. 

Our research involved a content analysis of 36 essays that appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education between 2007-2011.  The essays were all first person narratives that described a personal experience as either a job candidate or as a search committee member in an academic job search.  The essays were not specific to libraries but the processes described would be familiar to any academic librarian.  The perceptions shared in the essays were then compared to library literature on recruitment and to our own direct observations about library hiring practices.  One area of focus was the job candidate during the application and interview process. What we learned from our research is that at each critical stage of the process, there seems to be a common set of behaviors that separates the applicants who are screened out from the ones who progress to the next phase of the search.

#1 – Submitting generic application materials

For most entry-level positions, libraries receive an abundance of applications, and the majority of them are from individuals who meet the minimum qualifications for the job.  Search committees have to make tough decisions and a generic cover letter that could have been sent to any opening makes an application easy for them to disqualify at an early stage in the process.  The rock-solid experience reflected in your CV/resume is not enough to distinguish you since others will have equally strong or relevant experience.  You have to convince the committee with a good cover letter to consider you further.

What are the elements of an effective cover letter?  It must be addressed to the person named in the job announcement and be customized to the particular position.  You can accomplish this by telling the employer what interests you in their position, and by matching your skills and experience to the required and preferred qualifications of the job.  It is especially important to address the required qualifications since the hiring institution has no wiggle room in that area.  Either you meet the minimum qualifications or you don’t.  Particularly for soft skills, such as “Ability to work collaboratively”, you need to address the qualifications directly in order for the screening committee to know that you are in the meets category.

Additional tips about the application phase based on our research and observations are to follow the application instructions to the letter and keep your CV/resume current.  These actions also convey to the search committee that you are a qualified and interested applicant. 

#2 – Underpreparing for the preliminary interview

Many institutions will conduct preliminary phone or Skype interviews with candidates to determine who they will invite for on-site interviews.  A common mistake for candidates at this phase is to attempt to wing it.  Strong candidates prepare for these experiences as intentionally as they would for an in-person interview.  One valuable step the candidate can take is to thoroughly explore the hiring library’s website before the interview.  Is there a strategic plan posted and what does it say about the organization’s aspirations?  What big projects are underway?  What positions do search committee members hold?  Knowing this information will serve you well during the interview.  Another valuable way to prepare is to develop responses to anticipated questions.  If you haven’t already been on a number of interviews, you can find quite a few good lists of standard interview questions on the web.  Along the same lines, develop a list of specific examples from your experience that match the job requirements.

Another very important step you can take is to create a list of questions to ask the committee at the end of the interview.  The questions should be designed to give you insight into the culture of the organization and how things work in that environment.  It also signals that you are genuinely interested in working there.

#3 – Neglecting your image

If you are invited for an in-person interview, it means the hiring institution believes you are highly qualified for the position.  The interview itself allows them to identify the person who is going to be the best fit for the job and a good representative of the organization with users, administrators and other external audiences.  With that in mind, interviews are to some extent about personal brand management.

One specific recommendation is to dress professionally for the interview.  This advice also applies to the preliminary screening interview if Skype or any type of video conferencing capabilities are used.  For video conferencing, think also about the background—what will the interviewers see behind you and will it be distracting? Regardless of how informal the organization is on a day-to-day basis or if you are an internal applicant, interviews are a formal event and should be treated accordingly.  The Hiring Librarians blog provides great advice on this topic.  Along the same lines, professional manners are also a critical aspect of making a good impression.  This covers being friendly and gracious throughout the interview process, and in any communication after the interview.  If you continue to believe the job is a good fit for you after when the interview is over, send a note or email to the Search Committee Chair expressing your continuing interest in the position and appreciation for their interest in you.  If you do not remain interested or accept another position, let the Chair know as soon as possible. 

A final recommendation in this area is to take steps to limit access to your personal online presence to friends.  People will search for you. Enough said. 


The areas covered in this brief overview were identified in our research and reading as the most frequent things that candidates do to undermine their own success in the job search.  We have provided some specific ideas about what interviewees can do to avoid these behaviors, but would love to have readers provide further suggestions for what not to do during the interview.

Melissa Laning is Associate Dean for Assessment, Personnel and Research at the University of Louisville Libraries and spends a good deal of her time on hiring librarians. She is a past co-chair of the ACRL Personnel Administrators and Staff Development Officers Discussion Group, and Chair of the LLAMA Human Resources Section. Her recent research projects have focused on academic library recruitment and middle managers.  Melissa received her MLS from the University of Michigan. 

Emily Stenberg Emily Stenberg is the digital publishing and digital preservation librarian at Washington University in St. Louis. Previously, she was the metadata librarian at the University of Louisville. Emily received her MLS from Indiana University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

1 Comment

Filed under Academic, Researcher's Corner

Further Questions: What Was the Last Position You Hired?

This week I asked people who hire librarians:

What and when was the last position you hired?  How many applicants did you get, roughly?  How many did you interview?

Laurie Phillips

Last position:  Collection Development Librarian. Hiring process in spring 2012. Started work on August 1, 2012.

Number of applicants:52

Interviews: We phone or Skype interviewed 12 people. That’s a lot for us, but it was really valuable and we were able to schedule them all within the same week. Faculty search processes dictate that we bring 3 candidates to campus. We can stretch that to 4 if any of them are local, but honestly, we have really tried to limit that unless we really can’t narrow down to 3. Campus interviews take a lot of our time as well, including dinners in the evening, so we want to make sure we’re only bringing in the best candidates. In this last search, we brought 3 candidates to campus.

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

Christine Hage - Dark backgroundThe last position we hired for was an hourly youth service librarian and we had 25 applicants for the one 22.5 hour a week opening.  The position came with pro-rated benefits (vacation, sick, holiday, pension) and allows the employee to buy into the library’s health care and deferred compensation plans.  Most of the candidate’s had skills matching the job description, at least on paper, but there are always a few that are applying for any job that might be available.  As I recall we interviewed 7 people before hiring our final choice.

– Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library

Marleah AugustineIn the last year I have hired for our part-time Librarian Assistant position twice — equivalent to clerks/pages/reference desk assistants in other places. The first time during that time period, we had over 100 applicants. The last time (a month or so ago), we had around 40 applicants. Each time we interviewed around 15 people (we were hiring to fill multiple positions – we had around 5 openings each time).
I am currently on the hiring committee for a full-time Children’s Librarian and we’ve received around 20 applications and plan to interview around 10.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
Samantha Thompson-FranklinThe last librarian position we hired was for a Circulation Services/Public Services Librarian, in the summer of 2010. I think we received around 40-50 applications.  We interviewed 5 applicants by telephone and then brought 3 candidates to campus (as per our college policy).
– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Melanie LightbodyThe last position I hired outside the system was a branch manager this past November.  I think we ended up with 20 qualified applicants and interviewed two.  We recently were able to promote an internal candidate to a professional position and we hope to be looking outside the system for a professional children’s librarian in early fall, new grads and seasoned hands both welcome to apply as long as they have enough paraprofessional experience.

As I mentioned we had 20 qualified applicants for our last open position and interviewed two.  This is because 2 of our final candidates dropped out, one the weekend before the Tuesday interview day.  The latter drop out was because the salary was not high enough for this person to come to an in-person interview.  It said a lot to me that this person hadn’t noted the salary until the weekend before they came to visit.  Indeed as we went through the list of qualified applicants, those who’d passed paper screening and an initial phone interview, we had many people who were not interested in the interview.  You can imagine how frustrating this is to a hiring committee.  Hiring is an expensive, time consuming process and we look forward to hiring new colleagues.   I know it is a tough time for new graduates but please don’t apply for jobs you have no intention of taking.  On the other hand, if you are interested in a job by all means apply.  You don’t know how small the pool will end up being.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County


Manya ShorrThe last position I was involved in hiring were two  full time Librarian Is. This is an entry-level classification that can cover a variety of positions, from public service to cataloging to selection. These particular openings were for Youth Services Librarians in branches. In Omaha, we have to hire from an annual list, so the recruitment was for this list. We were able to ask a series of essay questions, with applicants who were interested in Youth Services answering a couple of additional youth-oriented ones. Around 53 people applied and about 10-15 of them were internal candidates (we have a number of staff with their MLS who are working as either paraprofessionals or Clerks). Many of the applicants did not fill out the youth questions and were not in consideration for these positions. Human Resources gives us two lists to interview—one for internal and one for external candidates and we interviewed seven candidates. We ended up filling the positions with one internal and one external candidate. All in all, I am pleased with this hiring experience. It’s important to cultivate our internal staff but it’s also nice to bring in a fresh perspective from the outside. We were able, based on interviews and qualifications, hire two stellar new Librarians.

– Manya Shorr, Assistant Director, Community Programs and Services, Omaha Public Library

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.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  Wherever I may roam, I will return to my English comment.

*edited 6/1/2013 11:10 AM PST to add response by Manya Shorr


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Public

Further Questions: How Can Someone on an Extended Leave of Absence Stay Professionally Relevant?

This week we have a new set of reader questions. This person is preparing to leave work for an extended period of time, due to the incipient arrival of twin babies. We’re going to talk about leaves of absence for the next three weeks – I’ll be asking questions of people who hire librarians, and then I’m going to also run companion posts with people who have returned to work after an extended leave. This week’s question is: 

What do you recommend that a person on an extended leave of absence do in order to stay professionally relevant?

Petra Mauerhoff

We had a staff member from our cataloguing department start an extended leave (maternity leave) at the beginning of this year and before she left she expressed concern about “staying in the loop”, professionally as well as being connected to our organization. Her supervisor gave her homework to do while she is on leave (exercises from the cataloguing course) and will invite her to participate in any professional development activities we might be offering during the year. Of course her participation will be voluntary, but it will be a great opportunity for her to stay connected to the profession and continue her connection to staff as well.
I recommend staff who are planning a leave speak to their supervisors about what the expectations are and what the supervisor would recommend in order to stay professionally connected and relevant while away from their job.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System
J. McRee Elrod
Read the appropriate e-lists, e.g., cataloguers should read Autocat, RDA-L, and Bibframe
– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Marleah Augustine

This question is close to home, because I recently took maternity leave. I expected to be gone during the months of August and September, planning to take 6 weeks off and then work the next 2 weeks on half-time basis, using vacation time as needed (our policy follows FMLA, and employees are expected to use their sick and vacation time). However, my daughter arrived 8 weeks early, so I ended up being gone in June and July instead. This threw quite a monkey wrench into my work plans, as the day I gave birth was the same day that I had planned to orient my assistant department head to my files and where everything was.

My recommendation to others is, if you are taking an extended leave of absence from a job that you currently hold and will be holding upon your return, stay in touch with those folks that you work with. Make yourself available via email or phone if possible. Even if you aren’t doing the actual work, just staying in touch and keeping up with issues that happen means that you will have less catching up to do when you do return.

If you are working with your supervisor to try to find the best solution for both you and your work, and you have an idea about the time off that you want, just ask. A friend of mine was unsure about whether she was going to go back to work after the birth of her daughter, and she told her supervisor that. Her supervisor worked with her and just hired someone on an interim basis so that my friend could have a year off and her position would be held in the event that she came back to work. You never know unless you ask!

If you are between jobs but are taking an extended leave of absence, keep up with professional developments as much as you can. Read blogs, keep browsing Library Journal.

All of this being said — take time for yourself and focus on the reason you are taking that extended leave in the first place. If you are on sabbatical to work on a dissertation, do that work first before you check in with your job. If you have a baby, that is your first priority and no one should discourage you from recognizing that.

– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Marge Loch-Wouters

Keep up on blogs, twitter feeds and, if you don’t already, ask to have remote access to your institutions email system.  Ask a willing colleague to forward meeting notes or policy changes or news that are posted on internal communication networks – wikis; blogs; etc – just so you stay slightly in the loop. Ten-twenty minutes a day spent perusing what’s up will make it feel like you are aware of what’s happening without needing to stress over it. And again, if you have a willing colleague who would drop off  professional print journals after they’ve been routed to the rest of the staff so you can keep up (kind of like homework being dropped off!), that is a way to stay connected.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
I really believe that whenever possible, the person on leave stay in touch with their library, either through listservs and other email methods, occasional phone conversations, conference calls for committees or other pertinent professional events that the person would have attended or in which they would have been involved.    Offer to have those at work call you at home when something of importance is about to happen–more of an FYI or courtesy than actually asking for input or opinions.  I say all of  this, because it the person is truly planning to return to their jobs, it is best to keep abreast of what is going on, rather than have to play major catch up upon one’s return.    The person should also read the literature also, just to make sure that you don’t completely remove yourself from the profession in your absence.  ALA members receive American Libraries, and others may subscribe to that or Library Journal, etc.  And of course there is the web.
Some colleges or universities may frown upon, or just plain not allow active participation in committee work or conference calling.  If that is the case, then I would recommend doing the other things I mentioned above–staying abreast of things on listservs, webpages, occasional phone calls to friends/colleagues just be kept up to speed.  Some people like to just “unplug” when they are away from their jobs, but if one is only on leave, and plans to return at some point, I don’t think that is a good idea for more than a couple of weeks.  In addition to the person on leave remaining informed, it is good for he/she to be remembered by colleagues, not out of sight out of mind.
– Sharon Britton, Library Director, BGSU – Firelands
Samantha Thompson-FranklinI have some personal experience from 2 short term maternity leaves. So here are a few suggestions that I have:
*Keep up as best as you can with the professional literature, either via online or in print publications
*Become involved or stay involved in any professional association committees at the local or national level
*Take advantage of any professional development opportunities, either face-to-face in your local area or online through webinars
*Continue to keep in touch and network with colleagues
*Look for opportunities to contribute through writing for a blog or a professional publication, if that’s of interest to youSome of these suggestions will depend upon how much time and resources/funding you have available to you, but they should help to you keep you involved and stay professional relevant.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library
Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. 

If you’re interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

And thanks to YOU for reading! 

Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer, by your comments.

*Edited 2/3/2013 to add in answer by Samantha Thompson-Franklin


Filed under Academic, Extended Leaves of Absence, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public, Topical Series

Further Questions: Any Tips for Out-of-Area Applicants?

Here’s final question in a series of six from the reader who asked when candidates shouldn’t applyif current employment status matters, how the initial selection of candidate works, for some cover letter hooks that worked, and if knowledge of specific tools was important. This week I asked people who hire librarians:

How much does the geographic location of the applicant matter to you? Any tips for out-of-area applicants?

Petra Mauerhoff

The geographic location doesn’t matter when we are trying to find the best candidate for the job. As long as the applicant is legally permitted to work in Canada and has the proper qualifications, we want to hear from you.
Since our organization is located in a medium sized town, all the folks with library related education tend to know each other or at least know of each other. When we post a position requiring library related qualifications, we can generally guess whether or not we will have local applicants.
The most important thing for applicants who are not located within driving distance to our office is that they need to be comfortable interviewing either via phone, skype or video conference. When I’m trying to set up an interview via distance an answer such as “but I don’t own a webcam” doesn’t show a lot of flexibility. The onus is on the candidate to make this happen.
Also, don’t have the interview situation be the first time you are actually using this technology. An improperly positioned camera can be distracting and the focus should be on the interview, not on the technology.
If the candidate is from out of the province, it is important that they not only try to gain some understanding about our organization before the interview, but also try to familiarize themselves with the structure of public library services in Alberta in general.
The basics for interview preparation remain the same, no matter what your geographic location: do your homework and show in the interview that you have taken the time to learn as much as you can about our organization, its context and the position for which you are applying.
– Petra Mauerhoff, CEO, Shortgrass Library System
J. McRee Elrod
In the case of SLC, location is totally irrelevant, since our cataloguers work from home. It is important to have a bank willing to accept deposits of out of country checks without a large fee.

I know of a case where an American applying for a Canadian job failed to mention that as a result of marrying a Canadian, he was immigrating. He was not considered since the employer did not wish to deal with the increasing difficulties of immigration.

It would be wise to mention, I think, a willingness to move, and to be interviewed by Skype prior to the move.

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Nicola FranklinAs a recruiter one of the things I find frustrating is that my clients can sometimes put their own convenience above their search for the best candidate for the job.  Given two equally qualified, experienced, etc applicants, they will almost always chose to interview the one who already lives locally to the one from further away who says they are willing to relocate.This statement is generally (although not exclusively) more true in the private sector, and less so in the public/government sector (where their equal opportunity guidelines may insist that they interview all applicants who meet a certain minimum standard, irrespective of where they are located).I guess this selection makes it easier to arrange interviews, avoids the need to pay expenses (or explain why they don’t do this), and there is also the thought of someone asking for relocation expenses and/or not being immediately available to start.  Hiring a new member of staff is generally a risky process (a lot is invested in time and money in the initial search, and then in induction and training, and in lost productivity until the new person gets up to speed), and employers always worry that a new hire won’t stay long enough to ‘pay back’ that investment.  Anything that reduces that risk or avoids risk factors is something hirers are generally keen on, therefore.If you are applying for jobs located outside reasonable commuting distance (that could be anything from 30 miles away to out of State or in a different country), then you need to reduce or avoid these perceived problems as much as possible.  Include information in your application pack or cover letter to reassure hirers,  For example, tell them you have relatives locally you can move in with immediately, while you look for somewhere to live.  Tell them you have Skype and are open to having a video interview as a first stage.
State up front that you are keen to relocate to the area at your own expense (and preferably that you know people there).  Employers are always worried that someone who moved just for the job may find it too lonely without friends and family, and leave again quickly.Don’t forget to include all the usual information to demonstrate what a great match you are to all the essential (and as many desirable as possible) characteristics they have put in the job specification.  Most employers will only go to the lengths of arranging telephone or skype interviews or calling someone to travel a long distance for a candidate they are sure is a pretty good fit on paper.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
Laurie PhillipsWe are academic, tenure-track, faculty, so we intentionally do national searches and geographic location has little or no bearing at all. In our most recent search, we Skype-interviewed someone who was out of the country and, if it had come to an on-campus interview, we would have had a discussion with the provost’s office about it. We pay all of the expenses for candidates to visit campus and the university pays a good portion of the hiree’s moving expenses.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans
Marleah AugustineWith part-time staff, it is not as much of a concern unless we hire university students who plan to go home for extended periods. For full-time positions, we are always willing to consider applicants who plan to move to our area but are not currently here. Phone interviews are the norm in that situation, although we LOVE seeing an applicant travel here for an in-person interview. It’s much easier to get an idea of who the applicant is in person.
As for tips, do as much research about the area as you can. Show that you’ve looked into what the library offers. Of course this goes for anyone applying, but when you’re in the area you tend to learn a lot by osmosis; when you’re at a distance, it takes a bit more work to do that.
– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library
We do not, generally, pay for relocation, so the location of the applicant doesn’t matter to us, if the applicant doesn’t expect to be reimbursed for moving expenses.
– Jaye Lapachet, Manager of Library Services, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP
Marge Loch-WoutersWe do national searches for our open positions with the understanding that if the candidate moves forward to a final four-five interview, we cannot help with the cost of a trip (wish we could, but we can’t). We have hired a number of out-of-state; out-of-region candidates. I do always look to make sure throughout the process that they understand that while this is an amazing opportunity professionally, it is in a location that is slightly isolated (2-3 hours to a large metropolitan area) – and it’s WI so it is likely to be cold and snowy and dark for significant chunks of the year. Many candidates, in their cover letter, make the case why they want to move into our area (family; want to be in the Midwest; love nature and the outdoors) that give us clues to the fact that they can happily work here and reach their potential.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library

Dusty Snipes GresThe most important question for an out-of-area candidate is, “How much do you want the job?” It is important to bear in the mind that most libraries are operating with limited and reduced budgets.  Travel and moving reimbursements are usually the first to go the way of cuts. Most libraries are well aware of the expense of looking for a job and offer alternatives: telephone interviews, web cast interviews, Skype, and similar tools. But – sooner or later – there will be the need for a face-to-face interview and there may be a good chance that the applicant will have to pay some or part of the travel.

I am more than willing to spend the time and effort on the preliminaries, and to offer what financial assistance the library can afford,  if I know that the person is willing to pay all or part to come for the interview. I am more than willing to offer the position to someone who is prepared to move. I do need to know there is commitment. And, part of the commitment is knowing whether the candidate really understands the area. Several times we have had final interviews where the person really didn’t know what rural meant, until he drove through miles of farm land and saw no malls or shopping centers. That was the deal breaker and not on our side.

Looking for a job is frustrating and time-consuming. Now, more than ever, the candidate needs to be open-minded about where the job is and what the job entails. The smaller the library the broader the job description. Bear in mind that the hiring library is also frequently in a position where the library desperately needs help, has a very limited budget, a limited time-frame to fill the position, and locally a limited or nonexistent candidate pool. Willingness to travel and willingness to move and expand horizons may get you a job.

– Dusty Gres, Director, Ohoopee Regional Library System

Sue HillIn an ideal world I would only hire staff who live within easy walking distance or a short bus ride from our office.  However life is not that simple.

A reality check is essential for both the hirer and the applicant at all stages of the process.

As a recruitment agency I would advise candidates to think carefully about the ramifications of a move before making their application.  It is disappointing for both the hirer and the candidate if a job is offered and then rejected because it did not make sense to make that move.  Equally a long commute can be disruptive to your personal life affecting family relationships and friendships too.  Life in a new city can be lonely. There should be more to life than work and a very long commute although there are times when it is necessary.

When making your application you need to show that you are prepared to move.  I often advise using the address of a friend or family member in the city where the job is located as some hirers have a policy of not looking at applicants who live outside a certain mileage range. If you say you already live there it may mean you won’t get travel expenses when you are invited to interview so you could just indicate that you have accommodation pre-arranged at that address.  If a clear plan to move is indicated within the application then as a hirer I would take that candidate more seriously than one who said ‘I am prepared to move anywhere.’  Invariably those who say that are not.

If planning a move or a long commute then you will need to give careful thought to the effect that either of these may have on your nearest and dearest.  Child or dependent care need to be considered as does the career of your partner.  Not all jobs are replicated globally and so you may need to research the possibilities of appropriate work for them in the new location.  Another consideration is property rental and purchase costs.  These often vary between cities and you need to be sure that you can afford to live in the new location. An alternative is to work Monday to Friday and return home on the weekends.  That can mean two sets of living expenses as well as the travel costs so it makes sense to take a sound look at the economics and the availability of Monday to Friday bed and board.

For more senior roles relocation expenses are sometimes offered by the hirer.  If these are essential to your ability to make a move then you should clarify their availability at the outset of the application process.  If you are planning to move abroad be realistic about your language skills.  Perhaps the working language of the company is English, but when you need a plumber at 2:00 am you can be sure you will need to speak the local language!

– Sue Hill, Managing Director, Sue Hill Recruitment

Melanie LightbodyWe don’t discriminate against out-of-area applicants. That said, my personal experience is that the more the person is tied to the area the more likely they are to work out as a candidate as well as an employee. The last two times that we’ve called out-of-area candidates for our professional positions there was about an 65% chance they’d either turn the interview down immediately or bow out later.

Recently, I hired an out-of-area candidate who worked for about three months before heading back to their home area.

Here is my tip: Use that cover letter to give a sentence or two with very specific reasons you are interested in the particular job for which you’re applying.

I have also seen candidates successfully use personal reasons to show interest. In these cases though the candidates were highly qualified for the positions they were seeking.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight. 

If you’re interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.

And thanks to YOU for reading! 

Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware That jaups in luggies; But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer Gie her a Comment!


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public

Further Questions: Do You Notify Rejected Applicants?

Not to be harsh and use the “R” word, but this week, on the suggestion of a reader, I asked people who hire librarians:

What notifications do you (or your library) send to applicants?  Do you acknowledge applications?  Share your timeline? Notify rejected candidates? If you do, is it over the phone, via email, or by mail? Do you think employers have any obligation to do this? Or are there practical considerations that make it impossible?

Terry Ann LawlerNotifications, summarized: We have an automated system that tells you if your application has been accepted.  Once the hiring process begins, you may or may  not be called for an interview, there is no notification if you are not called.
Acknowledging applications: Yes, but only that their resume and application have been received.
Share your timeline?  – it can be sooooooo long!  We have pools.  You apply for the position pool when it opens.  After it closes, you can be called for an interview by any library in the city.  If you put preferences for a specific part of the city (north/east, etc), you’ll be filtered out of the other parts.  This doesn’t mean you won’t get a call for an interview, but you might have to wait until there are openings in your part of the city.
Notifying rejected candidates:  You will get an automatic notification if you don’t make the pool.  Say you don’t have a college degree and you applied for a position with that as a requirement.  Then your application and resume will be rejected.
If we actually interview you and you are not chosen for the position, then we will either call or email or mail, depending on the situation.  If I did a massive amount of interviews and I have 20 people to notify, I might rely on mail.  If I had a short round and only 2 or 3 people to notify, I’d call.  If I can’t get ahold of someone by phone and have been communicating by email with them already, I might pick email as a last resort.

On employer obligations/practical considerations:  Yes, I think they do.  If you interviewed and were not chosen, you should get notified.  If you are in the pool, you stay in the pool until it opens again, usually 2 times per year.  So, there isn’t really anything to notify you about if you haven’t yet been called.  Unfortunately, the automated system makes things a little less personal and leaves the candidate wondering sometimes.

– Terry Lawler, Assistant Manager and Children’s Librarian, Palo Verde Branch, Phoenix Public Library

Yes to all of the above.  

We communicate by e-mail.  We point out the shortcomings in submitted MARC rceords.


– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging

Laurie PhillipsI send acknowledgements of each application received. I confirm that I have received it and that I have the proper attachments. I don’t share the timeline with the larger pool – only with those who interview by phone, Skype or in person. If someone contacts me to ask about where we are in the process, I will answer, but please don’t contact me before the deadline to ask if we have made a decision. Academia doesn’t work that way. We don’t review applications until after the deadline. I will notify rejected candidates by email if we haven’t interviewed them in person. I try to notify candidates by phone who were not hired after a campus interview but I have been told by job seekers that email is better because it’s less emotional and I can put some thoughtful information into it. I offer to provide feedback and a few people have asked. What I heard from job seekers is that if they saw a call from me, they would assume that they were being hired and would be even more disappointed. At any rate, yes, I do think we have an obligation to notify especially those who have taken time to interview us. It’s just common courtesy. We generally do not notify anyone of their status until a job offer has been made and accepted. Until then, all candidates are still considered viable.

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

As a recruiter I acknowledge all applications to register with The Library Career Centre.  This is initially in the form of an email, asking for a range of standard information (salary requirements, location, type of industry, type of job required) where this wasn’t included in the cover email sent along with the resume.
I also ask to set up a registration interview (which may be by telephone, skype or in person depending on distance).  On the rare occasions that someone applies to register who doesn’t have any relevant skills, qualifications or experience for library work (or who hasn’t expressed a sincere desire to move into this type of work), I will reply to let them know that I am a specialist recruiter and won’t be able to help them find other kinds of work.
Once I’ve approached a candidate about a job with one of my clients, and submitted their resume, I will let them know the outcome as soon as I hear back from my client.  This can take anything from hours to weeks!  If it’s a client I’ve worked with before, and so have an idea of their usual process and timelines, I will let the candidate know how long we may have to wait to hear some news.  Feedback on whether a resume submission has been successful or not is usually by email.
I’m afraid to say that, in some cases, a client may never reply to me about those candidates they don’t wish to shortlist, and I’ll only hear back from them if/when they do want me to arrange an interview.  This is frustrating all round, not just for the applicant who is waiting in hope, but also for me since it means I have no information on *why* that candidate may not have been suitable and so I cannot modify my search to find more closely matched people!
Where a candidate has been interviewed, I will get back to the candidate over the telephone to let  them know the outcome, and to talk through any feedback the interviewer may have given me about their interview performance.  Similarly if a client wishes me to make an offer to an interviewed candidate I will do this over the telephone.
For employers hiring directly, I think that sometimes they are overwhelmed with the sheer number of responses and it may not be practical for them to reply to everyone to say they haven’t been shortlisted for interview.  However, if that is likely to be the case I think it should say so in the job announcement / advertisement, so that applicants have realistic expectations of whether/when they might hear some news.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
We abide by the California civil service process.  All applications are acknowledged by our HR department and the applicant will receive a letter stating whether they met the minimum qualifications or not.  After that there is an oral examination and depending on how applicants do they will be notified whether and where they are on the final list and what their score was.  Everything that happens from there is dependent on their spot on the list.  There may not be any further communication if the candidate isn’t in the top five.
After these steps it is up to the hiring department.  We are required to interview the five highest scoring candidates.  All of the top five will be notified of the outcome by letter or phone if they’re not selected.  If we have a final two or three these candidates will be called either way.  At no time will a candidate be left hanging.  That said sometimes it make take quite awhile for references to be checked, the offer made and accepted so final candidates may not hear immediately.
I do not know if it is an obligation to notify applicants but it is common courtesy to acknowledge a candidate’s application and let them know appropriately as their candidacy progresses.    During final interviews we do share our timeline.  I believe this is common courtesy as well.  It is a very nerve-wracking experience for most people so the more information we can provide the better it is.

– Melanie Lightbody, Director of Libraries, Butte County


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.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  What do you think?  What obligations do employers have for notifying prospective candidates?


Filed under Academic, Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public