During the July 2021 Core e-Forum “Job Hunting and Hiring During the Pandemic”, our group aimed to examine innovative practices from hiring institutions and job hunters during the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We wanted to bring to light the adaptations library job seekers have had to implement in order to successfully obtain employment as well as how hiring institutions successfully onboard candidates during this time.
To begin with, we asked participants to introduce themselves and asked the questions “Have you been involved in a virtual job search during the pandemic? If you’re a job hunter, how many jobs did you interview for? If you’re a hiring manager, how many applications did you receive for the open job?” We received 22 introductory responses and there were some common themes that emerged from these answers. Job seekers reported considerable difficulty obtaining positions. Three reported sending applications to ~20 open positions. Hiring institutions reported receiving at least 20 applications for their open positions.
Those who crafted their virtual interviews put a lot of emphasis on incorporating breaks into their interviews. One strategy brought up in the discussion was to set up a meeting with the direct supervisor a few days prior to the main interview, in order to “set the stage.” One aspect mentioned was the fact that a hiring institution was able to interview more candidates since there were no budget constraints in regards to travel. Familial obligations were brought up in regards to the interview process. One respondent expressed that it would be nice to have consideration for those with childcare concerns; that a typical two-day interview would be difficult to navigate because of that.
Respondents who experienced an interview during the pandemic expressed that frequent breaks were essential. Some had good experiences with the virtual interview process, those who were guided through the interview by members of the search committee. Others found virtual interviews to be less personal, with little opportunity to get a complete sense of the institution. Respondents noted that the virtual interview has the potential to give a view into one’s personal life, which is a unique aspect of virtual interviews. One respondent noted that it was hard to read body language as it is impossible to detect with only a head and shoulders view via Zoom.
Those who started new positions during the pandemic reported a sense of loneliness and isolation. Some participants were in management, and expressed difficulty with learning about a new community of workers and patrons in a virtual environment.
Finally, we asked hiring institutions what they had learned about hiring in the virtual environment and what they might apply to hiring processes going forward. Those in charge of hiring expressed that Zoom interviews could replace phone screenings. The use of slides helps interviewees stay on target with their questions and adding the questions to the chat helps as well.
Through this e-forum, we were able to get a glimpse into the world of hiring in libraries during the COVID-19 pandemic
– Laura Haynes, Nariné Bournoutian, Kellie Barbato, and Ashley Hoffman, e-Forum moderators
Core e-Forums are two-day, moderated, electronic discussion forums that provide an opportunity for librarians and library professionals to discuss matters of interest on an email discussion list. These discussions are free of charge and available to anyone who wishes to join.