Hiring Employees: Advertising, Interviewing and Training

Hiring Employees: Advertising, Interviewing and Training

Posted on Monday June 07, 2010 at 04:29PM

Hiring Employees: Advertising, Interviewing and Training


Hiring employees can be a daunting task, both if you get a lot of applications, and if you get very few to none at all.  There are entire books on the topic, so there’s no way I can cover everything here, but I’ll give you some basics, and then list some titles on the subject.



To get qualified people to do the job you want them to do requires that your job ad be fairly specific.  Like the job description from last week, these ads need to convey what you expect your new employee to be able to do, both physically and mentally.  Where you advertise is equally important.  If you’re looking for someone for the short-term, library schools are teaming with students in need of experience.  High schools are also loaded with eager beavers, looking for something to put on their resumes.  If you’re thinking longer term, posting ads in the local newspaper could target the group you’re aiming at, such as empty nesters.  Posting open positions on the library website or in the library itself will more likely get you someone who is familiar with your library and how it works – which would make training so much easier.



With any luck your advertisement will garner several applicants.  Now comes the chore of shifting through them to determine whom to interview.  One former employer I spoke with stated that his process for sorting was very simply: any application or resume with spelling or grammar mistakes was immediately thrown in the trash.  In a detail-oriented profession like librarianship, if an applicant can’t be bothered to get it right on paper, when they’re trying to impress, they won’t bother trying to get it right in the workplace.  Also keep in mind that experience is not always better than trainability and friendliness.


In an interview, be prepared with a variety of question, both specifically about the job they will be doing, and generally about their work experience.  Questions like: “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult person and what was the result” can tell you a lot about the interviewee.  For one, such a question requires them to think on the spot.  How well do they do this?  It also should reveal something about their people skills – their ability to deal with difficult people.  Third, you can examine their interpersonal communication skills – how well are they relating to you, telling their story?  Pay attention to their voice, expression and posture.


It’s difficult to make a decision based on one meeting, but it’s important to evaluate both rationally and emotionally.  Have a checklist of “must haves” and desirable traits that you would like them to possess, and use this list during the interview.  Take your time.  You also want to learn if you would feel comfortable working with this person.  Are they likeable?  If you don’t feel comfortable with this person in a single interview, imagine that discomfort over time.



Once you’ve chosen the perfect candidate and hired him/her, you must train that person to the best of your ability.  Again - take your time.  While the day-to-day processes of the library are second nature to you, they may be totally unfamiliar to your new employee.  Depending on the complexity of the tasks, be lenient about mistakes, as this is part of the learning process.  Make gentle corrections, but stern reprimands are out of place unless the employee has made a truly nonsensical, costly, or dangerous error.  Have a manual, or at least a cheat sheet of the tasks and how to perform them properly.  This gives both you and the new employee something to refer to, and should prevent you from having to say the same thing over and over.  


Be prepared.  Know what you are looking for, even before you send out the first advertisement.  It’s not likely that you’ll find someone who checks off all of the boxes on you wish list, so be realistic.  Find someone that you feel you can work well with, and then spend the time to help that person become the best employee possible.  They will only be as good as they have been trained, so take responsibility for their earlier mistakes.  Over time, you should come to feel that they have always been there and that you can’t imagine ever having survived without them.


Feel free to contact Northern Lights Library System if you ever want some assistance with your hiring process.


For Further Reading:


Pymm, Bob, and Damon Hickey. Learn Library Management a Practical Study Guide for New Or

          Busy Managers in Libraries and Other Information Agencies Second North American

          Edition. Texas: Totalrecall Publications Inc., 2007.


Rubin, Richard. Hiring Library Employees. New York: Neal Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1993.


Stanley, Mary. Managing Library Employees. New York: Neal Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2008.


Tunstall, Patricia. Hiring, Training and Supervising Library Shelvers. Chicago: American Library

          Association, 2010.


Wendover, Robert. Smart Hiring. Illinois: Sourcebooks Inc., 2007.




Author: Northern Lights Library System


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