Trustee job #1: Interview & Hire a Qualified Director

Trustee job #1: Hire a Qualified Director

You call a candidate and invite them to an interview. Every contact you make with that candidate, is an opportunity for both of you to gauge if this relationship is going to work. Every candidate is interviewing your library as well, and how you do will lay the foundation for long term retention, or sudden and disruptive attrition.

Assess the Applicants
Match them to the requirements of the job. Sort into Not Qualified, Qualified, and Qualified & Preferred. Use the contents of the resume and the cover letter to determine if this person’s experience demonstrates qualification. Do not put people into a Not Qualified pile because they live in a different town, have a certain name, or have a minor typographical error. Base this assessment on demonstrated qualifications only.

Phone or In-Person Interview
Have a lot of people in the Qualified and Qualified & Preferred piles? Hooray! What a delightful problem to have! This can happen often if you use an online job board like Indeed, or TwinTiersHelpWanted. As a board write questions that will help determine whether this person is actually qualified for the position and actually understands the nature of the work. One person calls everyone from the pile and takes notes. This is also an opportunity to make dates for in person interviews.

Human Rights Law prohibits the asking of certain questions. We recommend that after you’ve drafted questions relevant to the work and vision of the library, you check to make sure you haven’t asked for any personal information that might not only be erroneous, but possibly illegal. See Human Rights Law guidance for employers.

Also, the Society for Human Resource Management publishes excellent guidance for compliance with federal guidelines. See this article on interview questions.

Your in person interview panel should be conducted by more than one person from the board, and can include one or more legacy staff members. All interview panel members should have the list of questions before hand and the same questions should be asked of each candidate. After each interview, notes on the candidates should be collected for retention.

Make the Hire & Decline to Offer
Make an offer before declining your runner up candidates. If no candidate is qualified, it is better to consider it a failed search and reopen than to hire the wrong person.

In the case of a director, the contract can act as the offer letter, but only if it explicitly states the wage, hour, and benefits conditions of employment. (See NYS Labor Law Notification Requirements.) Here is a Sample Director Contract (will download in Word). Consider it a loose guideline of what can go in a contract, but not a legal opinion about what must go in the contract.

Concerned about the wage you are offering? To benchmark director wages within the Southern Tier Library System region, use the published Annual Statistical Report. Remember that the word salary has specific legal meaning. If you aren’t compensating your Director at an annual rate according to the following table, STLS strongly recommends you describe the conditions of employment based on hourly rate and expectation of hours worked per week, understanding that when the director works more than 40 hours per week, the library must compensate at the overtime rate 1.5 times the regular rate.

Annual SalaryYearAnnual Salary

from NYS Overtime Exemption FAQ

Next Steps
Onboarding, or the process by which you acculturate your new hire to the organization, will show that your new director can trust the stability of the library. Conversely, a disorganized onboarding can make new hires feel left in the cold. It all begins with the offer letter and contract process. We’ll get into the details of the full onboarding process in our next installment.

Upcoming Learning Opportunities for Trustees

In January we bring back the popular workshop Get the Grant!, this time with Keturah Cappadonia. This session will be held on Saturday, January 13th in the Friendship Free Library from 10 am – 11:30 am. Registration is required so we know how many take home resources to bring. Register here.
For all upcoming events, please visit the STLS program calendar.

As ever, please contact me with questions, concerns, and ideas.

In partnership,