Interviewing: Tips from the  Other Side of the TableVLA Paraprofessional Forum Conference        Monday, May 21, 2012     ...
About This Presentation• Topic and Scope• Housekeeping Issues            #interviewbetterVLAPF
Who We Are          Teresa Doherty,Virginia Commonwealth University          Megan Hodge,Chesterfield County Public Librar...
Now tell us a little about you!            #interviewbetterVLAPF
Show of hands!When was your most recent     job interview?          #interviewbetterVLAPF
Show of hands! What type of library areyou ultimately interested in        working for?          #interviewbetterVLAPF
Show of hands! What type of library areyou ultimately interested in        working for?          #interviewbetterVLAPF
Survey• Disseminated through multiple listservs• Qualifications to Participate  – Academic or Public Library Staff  – Part...
Literature Review• Applicants spend a lot of time creating  resumes and cover letter, but little time  preparing for an in...
What should you know before        an interview?• Be familiar with the library’s website and  social media pages (143 resp...
What are some of the things hiringcommittees look for in a candidate? • Personality and attitude were important or   very ...
What competencies are mostimportant to a hiring committee?• Communication skills (73.7%) and customer  service skills (76....
What character traits are most         important?• Intelligence (176 respondents)• Enthusiasm (170 respondents)• Cooperati...
Has the economy affected       hiring in libraries?• Over 75% of respondents said that they had  seen an increase in the n...
How to be Impressive!• Ask lots of relevant questions (19)• Show passion and excitement for THIS  job (14)• Give a great p...
Advice for Job-Hunters• Be enthusiastic (75 respondents)• Connect your experience/skills to the  position (65 respondents)...
Respondents’ Comments• “Put your best foot forward,” because  “personality plays a bigger role than most  people think.”• ...
Hiring in Librariesacademic versus public libraries  • what’s the same?  • what’s different?              #interviewbetter...
Academic library interview           process•   Timeline•   Screening committee•   Site visit•   Etiquette                ...
It’s a marathon, not a sprint•   September: position is advertised•   November: deadline for applications•   March: candid...
What does the screening         committee do?• to identify candidates• to perform background checks• to summarize strength...
Candidate visit to an academic           library“The purpose of the interview is to both solicitinformation from the candi...
Sample Itinerary:   the day before the full-day           interview4:00: pick up at airport, drive to hotel5:30: pick up a...
Sample Itinerary: morning8:30: pick up at hotel9:00: meet with screening committee9:30: meet with librarians and staff fro...
Sample Itinerary: afternoon12:00: lunch with department heads1:30: tour of the library2:15: meet with library administrato...
Public Library Interview             Process• Timeline• The Interview• Tips from Library Managers               #interview...
Timeline: More Like a Sprint• HR advertises position: 2-4 weeks• HR screens applications: 1-4 weeks• Library screens appli...
Public Library Interview• Lasts about 1-2 hours• You provide your own transportation, or  interview via phone or Skype• In...
Public Library Interview• For YA & Children’s positions, expect  questions that test your knowledge of  literature for tha...
Public Library Interview                  (entry level)Most likely, no free lunch.                   #interviewbetterVLAPF
What hasn’t changed•   Dress up•   Be polite•   Defend every item on your resume•   Do your homework•   Send ‘thank you’ n...
What also hasn’t changedThe importance of cover letters•Make it specific to the job you areapplying for•Make sure names ar...
Even more that hasn’t changedPrepare those you ask for references:•Share your current resume, coverletter and position ann...
What has changed #1Review your social media presence•Change your Facebook privacysettings to limit access•Create a profess...
What has changed #2When Skyping, keep the cat out ofthe room•See what your camera sees•Choose a professional background•Dr...
Wisdom from Public Library         Managers• Don’t discount a job in a smaller library  system• Look for jobs on city & co...
More Wisdom• Nights & weekends required• In local government, the application gets  you in the door• Job searching etiquet...
Suggestions from screening    committee chairs• Google yourself and be prepared to  explain what you find• Ask questions o...
Additional Resources• Ask a Manager blog: http://www.askamanager.org/• Career Q&A with the Info Career People:  http://www...
Any questions?    If you would like to view this           slideshow, visit               XXXXXThanks,Teresa, Megan, Debor...
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Interviewing: Tips from the Other Side of the Table

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Because of the competitive applicant pool for entry-level librarian positions, it is important for those on the job market to know what hiring committees seek in potential candidates. The presenters will provide research and experience-based information that will help entry-level professional candidates understand the interview process from the other side.
Presenters: Teresa Doherty, Megan Hodge, Deborah Lammers, Nicole Spoor

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  • TERESA Welcome! Confirmation of session title, how long the session will be
  • MEGAN -Nicole and Megan presenting survey findings, with Teresa and Deborah providing more detailed information about the interview process and the do’s and don’ts of interviewing We want this to be interactive, so we will be asking you a lot of questions throughout. Everyone has different experiences and expertise, so don’t be afraid to share what you already know on the subject.
  • NICOLE Teresa-Head of Circulation & Information at VCU Megan-Assistant Branch Manager Deborah-Branch Manager Nicole-Information Resources Librarian
  • TERESA
  • TERESA Explain results
  • MEGAN Explain results
  • MEGAN Explain results
  • NICOLE 430 respondents Just over 70% were from academic libraries (305) Almost 30% were from public libraries (125)
  • NICOLE Interview preparation should take just as much or more time than creating a resume or cover letter. Practice interview questions. Other important qualities are enthusiasm, flexibility and adaptability You want the library to be the right fit for you, so you can be successful in the position
  • MEGAN Top 3 responses Study website, learn databases (if possible), general policies, staff and their positions, history may be important Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc. -Information about library and institutions from website, ask people, books -Mission-often on website, don’t be afraid to ask employees Other things you should know: demographics (46), area/neighborhood information (43), familiarity with programs/services offered (40) Many of the reported factors can be found on the library’s website. Question : How can you go above and beyond when trying to find out information about an institution?
  • MEGAN 361 respondents could rate each option Experience was important or very important to 64.6% Personal Appearance was important or very important to only 38.8% Often we focus on education and experience when hiring committees are most interested in personalities and how well you will fit into their organization. Question : Institutional fit—how can you find out about it? How can you make sure you demonstrate fit on your interview?
  • NICOLE 361 responded to the question (rated each option) A demonstrated commitment to the profession and Expertise with library technology were slightly less important. Question : If you are a new library school grad or still in school, you may not have much library experience. Think of a job you’ve applied for recently and make a connection between your experience and/or skills to the position. As one respondent said, “...connect the dots for us.”
  • NICOLE 360 respondents to this question, could choose three Some of the other highest ranking character traits are responsibility (115), Friendliness (84), and Creativity Least important were decisiveness (3) and Ambition (14) Question : Intelligence, enthusiasm, cooperativeness were each listed by almost 150 respondents as being an important trait for a candidate to have. How might you demonstrate each of these qualities in an interview?
  • MEGAN Activity : There are many books and Web sites that have lists of common interview questions. These are great. There are some new questions hiring committees are asking because of the recession, though, so how would you prepare for these?: What is your ability to adapt since “position fluidity” and “workload creep” are now common? How would you deal with minimal resources? What is your true interest in/commitment to the position, considering (a) you are overqualified or (b) vacated positions are often going unfilled and we may not be able to replace you?
  • MEGAN More competition means you need to stand out. Suggestions by our respondents on how to be impressive 233 respondents answered this question Other suggestions: Have suggested ideas for innovation that are implementable in that library, be prepared with good answers to questions, and have anecdotes that show you have great customer service skills Activity : Think of one job you applied for recently, are planning on applying for, or your dream job. Come up with and describe an innovation or idea that could help the library even if you are not hired. Suggested questions to ask from our survey: About working in the library and day-to-day activities About the culture of the library Question: How do you develop questions to ask the hiring committee? What are some good questions to ask? What are some questions not to ask?
  • MEGAN Entry-level librarians or those still in school have to work extra hard to compete with more seasoned librarians. Over 300 respondents Other advice: have confidence (17), be yourself (12), dress well (18), be prepared (25) Question : How can you showcase your personality in an interview-appropriate way?
  • NICOLE
  • Deborah If the academic hiring process is like a marathon, the public library process is more like a sprint. Public libraries might advertise entry level positions for only 2 weeks. Many public libraries are agencies of local government. In that case, hiring is done through the county or city Human Resources Department HR does the initial screening of applicatons. When the economy is good, they are receiving and screening applications for many positions throughout the county. So, this process could take one week or several weeks. HR forwards the screened applications to the library for further screening by the branch or department with the opening. Then the library schedules interviews. This is usually fast, probably a week or two.
  • Deborah Not as long or fancy as the academic process. Most likely, we’re not flying you anywhere! It would be highly unusual for a public library to pay for you to fly to an interview for an entry level position. If you apply for a job far away, expect to interview over the phone, or by Skype or to pay for your own travel. Interview panel is small: for an entry level position, usually 2-4 people, supervisor of position, maybe branch managers, maybe someone from headquarters like a children’s services coordinator, adult services coordinator. There are always exceptions: My Assistant Manager adds that she has seen as many as 8 on a panel, in a library system where several branches had openings to fill. You might be asked in advance to prepare some kind of presentation to give during your interview. For a children’s librarian position, you might be asked to present a story time. For YA you might be asked to give a booktalk.
  • Deborah If interviewing for a YA or children’s librarian position, you should have good knowledge of literature for that age level, and be prepared to demonstrate that in your answers. It is not enough just to like kids or teens! (but you should like them!). In the interview, be able to demonstrate that you are keeping up with what’s going on in public libraries. Read library journals and blogs. You might be asked questions about current events or issues, such as major changes in technology. At some point, you will probably tour your prospective branch or work area. You may be introduced, informally, to staff members along the way. Be careful what you say! This is still part of the interview!
  • Deborah Most likely, you will not be treated to lunch or dinner. Sorry about that. 
  • Deborah Don’t discount a job in a smaller library system for your first position. In my experience, you may get to do a wider variety of things than you would in a bigger system – things that look good on a resume. Positions advertised on county or city website. This might be the only place they are advertised (might be on local library association website, but might not – you might need to look at many individual county websites to find ads). There seems to be more competition for adult librarian positions. If you haven’t considered working with children or teens, you might ask to shadow these types of librarians at your local public library to see what they do. I didn’t realize I would love working with kids until I was far along another career path. You might surprise yourself! For public service positions, you must like to work with people. You must be able to work with a wide variety of people.
  • Deborah Working nights and weekends will be required for public service librarians. Expect to work at least one night a week and one weekend per month. At my library, all librarians work two nights a week and every other weekend. Even if you submit an impressive resume, be careful filling out the application. Include all of your experience and qualifications, especially anything that makes it clear that you meet the requirements of the job. You don’t want to slip through the cracks! You could get weeded out before your application makes it to the library. All the etiquette Teresa discussed applies equally to public library positions. Send your thank you letters. Manage your online reputation. Don’t take rejection personally! Applicant pools are often large. If you really want to work in a particular library system, keep trying. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
  • Interviewing: Tips from the Other Side of the Table

    1. 1. Interviewing: Tips from the Other Side of the TableVLA Paraprofessional Forum Conference Monday, May 21, 2012 3:15pm-4:30pm #interviewbetterVLAPF #interviewbetterVLAPF
    2. 2. About This Presentation• Topic and Scope• Housekeeping Issues #interviewbetterVLAPF
    3. 3. Who We Are Teresa Doherty,Virginia Commonwealth University Megan Hodge,Chesterfield County Public Library Deborah Lammers, Henrico County Public Library Nicole Spoor, Hampton University #interviewbetterVLAPF
    4. 4. Now tell us a little about you! #interviewbetterVLAPF
    5. 5. Show of hands!When was your most recent job interview? #interviewbetterVLAPF
    6. 6. Show of hands! What type of library areyou ultimately interested in working for? #interviewbetterVLAPF
    7. 7. Show of hands! What type of library areyou ultimately interested in working for? #interviewbetterVLAPF
    8. 8. Survey• Disseminated through multiple listservs• Qualifications to Participate – Academic or Public Library Staff – Participated on hiring committee for entry-level librarian since 2008• 430 respondents – 70% academic, 30% public #interviewbetterVLAPF
    9. 9. Literature Review• Applicants spend a lot of time creating resumes and cover letter, but little time preparing for an interview• Practice, Practice, Practice• Attitude and Personality are more important than skills, education or experiences• Don’t forget to interview the library #interviewbetterVLAPF
    10. 10. What should you know before an interview?• Be familiar with the library’s website and social media pages (143 respondents)• Know about the institution and library (84 respondents)• Learn library’s mission and strategic plan (65 respondents) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    11. 11. What are some of the things hiringcommittees look for in a candidate? • Personality and attitude were important or very important to 98% of the respondents • Institutional fit was important or very important to 95.3% of the respondents • Education was important or very important to 89.5% of the respondents #interviewbetterVLAPF
    12. 12. What competencies are mostimportant to a hiring committee?• Communication skills (73.7%) and customer service skills (76.7%) deemed very important.• Familiarity with library technology was third most important competency (32.4%) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    13. 13. What character traits are most important?• Intelligence (176 respondents)• Enthusiasm (170 respondents)• Cooperativeness (140 respondents) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    14. 14. Has the economy affected hiring in libraries?• Over 75% of respondents said that they had seen an increase in the number of applicants• Most respondents (80.8%) did not change the number of applicants called in for interviews• “We have a stronger base from which to choose, but only interview the best of the best.” #interviewbetterVLAPF
    15. 15. How to be Impressive!• Ask lots of relevant questions (19)• Show passion and excitement for THIS job (14)• Give a great presentation (11)• Have a portfolio of great work (9) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    16. 16. Advice for Job-Hunters• Be enthusiastic (75 respondents)• Connect your experience/skills to the position (65 respondents)• Gain experience through volunteering or internships (65 respondents)• Showcase technology skills (45 respondents) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    17. 17. Respondents’ Comments• “Put your best foot forward,” because “personality plays a bigger role than most people think.”• “We are trying to find somebody who is a good fit for our library.”• “I feel lucky to already have a job, because some of the candidates we get are so smart and creative I don’t think I would be able to compete against them!” #interviewbetterVLAPF
    18. 18. Hiring in Librariesacademic versus public libraries • what’s the same? • what’s different? #interviewbetterVLAPF
    19. 19. Academic library interview process• Timeline• Screening committee• Site visit• Etiquette #interviewbetterVLAPF
    20. 20. It’s a marathon, not a sprint• September: position is advertised• November: deadline for applications• March: candidate visits• April: offer made• May: welcome aboard! #interviewbetterVLAPF
    21. 21. What does the screening committee do?• to identify candidates• to perform background checks• to summarize strengths and weaknesses of the candidates for interviewing and hiring decisions by the University Librarian and appropriate Associate University Librarian. (VCU Libraries Faculty Recruitment manual) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    22. 22. Candidate visit to an academic library“The purpose of the interview is to both solicitinformation from the candidate and to providethe candidate an opportunity to assess his orher interest in the VCU Libraries.” (VCU Libraries Faculty Recruitment manual) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    23. 23. Sample Itinerary: the day before the full-day interview4:00: pick up at airport, drive to hotel5:30: pick up at hotel6:00: dinner with library representatives(may be division head, department headsor colleagues) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    24. 24. Sample Itinerary: morning8:30: pick up at hotel9:00: meet with screening committee9:30: meet with librarians and staff fromyour department10:15: break10:30: presentation to library staff11:15: meet with faculty #interviewbetterVLAPF
    25. 25. Sample Itinerary: afternoon12:00: lunch with department heads1:30: tour of the library2:15: meet with library administrators3:00: meet with screening committee3:30: meet with University Librarian4:00: return to hotel or drive to airport #interviewbetterVLAPF
    26. 26. Public Library Interview Process• Timeline• The Interview• Tips from Library Managers #interviewbetterVLAPF
    27. 27. Timeline: More Like a Sprint• HR advertises position: 2-4 weeks• HR screens applications: 1-4 weeks• Library screens applications further & schedules interviews: 1-2 weeks• Library interviews candidates: 1-2 weeks• HR offers employment: within 2 weeks (approximate times, your mileage may vary) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    28. 28. Public Library Interview• Lasts about 1-2 hours• You provide your own transportation, or interview via phone or Skype• Interview panel is small: 2-4 people• May be asked in advance to give presentation, story time or book talk #interviewbetterVLAPF
    29. 29. Public Library Interview• For YA & Children’s positions, expect questions that test your knowledge of literature for that age level• Expect “current awareness” questions (trends & issues affecting public libraries)• Tour of branch or work area• May meet & chat with some current staff #interviewbetterVLAPF
    30. 30. Public Library Interview (entry level)Most likely, no free lunch. #interviewbetterVLAPF
    31. 31. What hasn’t changed• Dress up• Be polite• Defend every item on your resume• Do your homework• Send ‘thank you’ notes #interviewbetterVLAPF
    32. 32. What also hasn’t changedThe importance of cover letters•Make it specific to the job you areapplying for•Make sure names are spelled correctly•Make sure everything is spelledcorrectly #interviewbetterVLAPF
    33. 33. Even more that hasn’t changedPrepare those you ask for references:•Share your current resume, coverletter and position announcement•Give them ammunition for thereference call – projects you worked on for/with them – anecdotes about your interactions – positive comments by patrons, co-workers #interviewbetterVLAPF
    34. 34. What has changed #1Review your social media presence•Change your Facebook privacysettings to limit access•Create a professional email address(stella.smith@gmail.com NOTsexy_librarian2be@gmail.com)•Be aware of listserv etiquette #interviewbetterVLAPF
    35. 35. What has changed #2When Skyping, keep the cat out ofthe room•See what your camera sees•Choose a professional background•Dress for an emergency (head totoe) #interviewbetterVLAPF
    36. 36. Wisdom from Public Library Managers• Don’t discount a job in a smaller library system• Look for jobs on city & county websites• Consider Children’s or YA Librarian positions• For public service positions, you MUST like to work with people #interviewbetterVLAPF
    37. 37. More Wisdom• Nights & weekends required• In local government, the application gets you in the door• Job searching etiquette is important• Applicant pools may be large. Don’t give up! Good luck! #interviewbetterVLAPF
    38. 38. Suggestions from screening committee chairs• Google yourself and be prepared to explain what you find• Ask questions of each group you meet• Act as though you are on stage at all times during the visit #interviewbetterVLAPF
    39. 39. Additional Resources• Ask a Manager blog: http://www.askamanager.org/• Career Q&A with the Info Career People: http://www.lisjobs.com/careerqa_blog/• Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? by Ellen Gordon Reeves• The Librarians Career Guidebook by Priscilla K. Shontz• Resume Writing And Interviewing Techniques That Work!: A How-to-do-it Manual for Librarians by Robert R. Newlen #interviewbetterVLAPF
    40. 40. Any questions? If you would like to view this slideshow, visit XXXXXThanks,Teresa, Megan, Deborah, & Nicole #interviewbetterVLAPF

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