This post will end with a poll so that you can assume the place of a hiring manager or administrator in a fictional library setting and choose between the following two candidates (Please note: neither candidate is modeled on anyone in particular, including myself!). Like any library setting, funds are tight and every personnel choice you make matters to the highest degree. You are short-staffed and must hire the person best suited to fill your needs and represent your organization. Force yourself to consider only the criteria offered. These candidates have already passed the initial resume review and are in the interview process. Here we go-
Candidate Number 1
Number 1 has an impeccable resume. The cover letter was precise, concise, and to the point without a lot of extraneous information, much like the candidate appears to be in person. This candidate is sharp and technically on top of their game. They know the ins and outs of the job requirements and every indication is that they have the skills and abilities needed to move almost seamlessly into the position and get up to speed fast. This candidate has ten years of experience working in various library venues. This candidate also has supervisory experience, which is a desired but not required qualification for the job.
Number 1 is a bit reserved and guarded. Their answers are sometimes short and restrained and not particularly well articulated or thought out. But the gist of most of their answers contains the information you want to hear. Their answers also indicate that they prefer to work independently, are task-oriented, and have a rather narrow focus. You detect just a hint of cynicism, maybe, or negativity of some sort, but it may just be nerves or an attempt at humor.
You are lucky enough to contact a reference that will give you more than a confirmation of past employment. This reference raves about the technical skills and knowledge this person possesses going so far as to say that they rarely make a mistake or come up short, easily fulfilling all of the job requirements. The reference also admits that Number 1 has some control issues, is not very tolerant of perceived incompetency, and rarely offers an opinion unless asked. While Number 1 is thoroughly knowledgeable in the job-related duties and tasks, they are not one to necessarily seek additional information or express curiosity about the big picture of the organization or the profession. They are content to do their job and do it well.
Candidate Number 2
Number 2 has a good resume, but the cover letter was exceptional. It described what the candidate could offer not only to the job, but to the organization and the profession as a whole. This candidate is a bit less knowledgeable about the job itself, and it appears that they may need some time to learn the desired skills and abilities in order to get up to speed. This candidate has 5 years of experience working in one library and no supervisory experience.
Number 2 is open, warm, thoughtful, and articulate. Every answer reinforces the impression that this candidate is engaged on many levels. They are definitely a big picture kind of person who enjoys learning as much as possible about every area of the organization for which they work. While they work well independently, they also enjoy collaboration. They are so well-informed and knowledgeable about the issues libraries face that you begin to wonder how much time and attention they give to their actual job.
Once again, you are lucky enough to contact a willing reference. The reference raves about this candidate because everyone likes them on a personal level–customers, coworkers, other stakeholders. The reference admits that it took some time for this candidate to get acclimated to the job and up to speed. The reference also acknowledges that their engagement on so many levels sometimes interferes with the day-to-day work. Number 2 is not content to do just their job and do it well. Number 2 always wants to know more about issues not always directly related to the duties specific to the job. Number 2 constantly seeks opportunities for growth sometimes–but not often–neglecting their own job in the process.
If I get enough responses to make the results worthwhile, I will publish them. I have learned that simply asking a question is not always enough to generate a significant number of responses.
If you do participate–Thank you!