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Interviewing: Tips from the other side of the table


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Presentation given at the Virginia Library Association annual conference, October 27, 2011. Presenters include: Megan Hodge (Chesterfield County Library), Nicole Spoor (Hampton University Library), Teresa Doherty (VCU Libraries), and Deborah Lammers (Dumbarton Area Library). Results of a survey of hiring librarians, and details about the hiring process at academic libraries and public libraries.

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Interviewing: Tips from the other side of the table

  1. 1. Interviewing: Tips from the Other Side of the Table Virginia Library Association Thursday, October 27, 2011 1:15 – 2:00 pm #interviewbetterVLA
  2. 2. Megan Hodge, Chesterfield County Library Nicole Spoor, Hampton University Library Teresa Doherty, VCU Libraries Deborah Lammers, Dumbarton Area Library #interviewbetterVLA Who We Are:
  3. 3. Survey <ul><li>Disseminated through multiple listservs </li></ul><ul><li>Qualifications to Participate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Academic or Public Library Staff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Participated on hiring committee for entry-level librarian since 2008 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>430 respondents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70% academic, 30% public </li></ul></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  4. 4. Literature Review <ul><li>Applicants spend a lot of time creating resumes and cover letter, but little time preparing for an interview </li></ul><ul><li>Practice, Practice, Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Attitude and Personality are more important than skills, education or experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t forget to interview the library </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  5. 5. What should you know before an interview? <ul><li>Be familiar with the library’s website and social media pages (143 respondents) </li></ul><ul><li>Know about the institution and library (84 respondents) </li></ul><ul><li>Learn library’s mission and strategic plan (65 respondents) </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  6. 6. What kind of experience is important? <ul><li>89.3%-at least moderately important to have ANY type of library experience in ANY type of library </li></ul><ul><li>88.8%- at least moderately important to have experience in the same type of library as you are applying to </li></ul><ul><li>85.2%-at least moderately important to have experience specifically related to the position </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  7. 7. What are some of the things hiring committees look for in a candidate? <ul><li>Personality and attitude were important or very important to 98% of the respondents </li></ul><ul><li>Institutional fit was important or very important to 95.3% of the respondents </li></ul><ul><li>Education was important or very important to 89.5% of the respondents </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  8. 8. Has the economy affected hiring in libraries? <ul><li>Over 75% of respondents said that they had seen an increase in the number of applicants </li></ul><ul><li>Most respondents (80.8%) did not change the number of applicants called in for interviews </li></ul><ul><li>“ We have a stronger base from which to choose, but only interview the best of the best.” </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  9. 9. How to be Impressive! <ul><li>Ask lots of relevant questions (19) </li></ul><ul><li>Show passion and excitement for THIS job (14) </li></ul><ul><li>Give a great presentation (11) </li></ul><ul><li>Have a portfolio of great work (9) </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  10. 10. Advice for Newbie Librarians <ul><li>Be enthusiastic (75 respondents) </li></ul><ul><li>Connect your experience/skills to the position (65 respondents) </li></ul><ul><li>Gain experience through volunteering or internships (65 respondents) </li></ul><ul><li>Showcase technology skills (45 respondents) </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  11. 11. Respondents Comments <ul><ul><li>“ Put your best foot forward,” because “personality plays a bigger role than most people think.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ We are trying to find somebody who is a good fit for our library.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I think that brand new librarians can be the person to beat. They bring a fresh energy and viewpoint.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Many of the hires I have been involved in during the past 12 years have been new grads, who brought energy and new ideas to the library. I cannot imagine not hiring new grads!” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ 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!” </li></ul></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  12. 12. Additional Resources <ul><ul><li>Ask a Manager blog: / </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Career Q&A with the Info Career People: / </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? by Ellen Gordon Reeves </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Librarian's Career Guidebook by Priscilla K. Shontz </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resume Writing And Interviewing Techniques That Work!: A How-to-do-it Manual for Librarians by Robert R. Newlen </li></ul></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  13. 13. Hiring in Academic Libraries vs. Hiring in Public Libraries #interviewbetterVLA
  14. 14. Academic library interview process <ul><li>Timeline </li></ul><ul><li>Screening and search committees </li></ul><ul><li>Site visit </li></ul><ul><li>Etiquette counts </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  15. 15. It’s a marathon, not a sprint <ul><li>September: position is advertised </li></ul><ul><li>November: deadline for applications </li></ul><ul><li>March: candidate visits </li></ul><ul><li>April: offer made </li></ul><ul><li>May: welcome aboard! </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  16. 16. What does the screening committee do? <ul><li>to identify candidates </li></ul><ul><li>to perform background checks </li></ul><ul><li>to summarize strengths and weaknesses of the candidates for interviewing and hiring decisions by the University Librarian and appropriate Associate University Librarian. </li></ul><ul><li>(VCU Libraries Faculty Recruitment manual) </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  17. 17. Screening vs. search committee <ul><li>A screening committee’s job is to screen out the applicants to get a strong set of candidates to interview. It makes recommendations to those who can make decisions about hiring. </li></ul><ul><li>A search committee does all that, and can also make the hiring decision. </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  18. 18. Candidate visit to an academic library <ul><li>“ The purpose of the interview is to both solicit information from the candidate and to provide the candidate an opportunity to assess his or her interest in the VCU Libraries.” </li></ul><ul><li>(VCU Libraries Faculty Recruitment manual) </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  19. 19. Sample Itinerary: the day before the full-day interview <ul><li>4:00: pick up at airport, drive to hotel </li></ul><ul><li>5:30: pick up at hotel </li></ul><ul><li>6:00: dinner with library representatives (may be division head, department heads or colleagues) </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  20. 20. Sample Itinerary: morning <ul><li>8:30: pick up at hotel </li></ul><ul><li>9:00: meet with screening committee </li></ul><ul><li>9:30: meet with librarians and staff from your department </li></ul><ul><li>10:15: break </li></ul><ul><li>10:30: presentation to library staff </li></ul><ul><li>11:15: meet with faculty </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  21. 21. Sample Itinerary: afternoon <ul><li>12:00: lunch with department heads </li></ul><ul><li>1:30: tour of the library </li></ul><ul><li>2:15: meet with library administrators </li></ul><ul><li>3:00: meet with screening committee </li></ul><ul><li>3:30: meet with University Librarian </li></ul><ul><li>4:00: return to hotel or drive to airport </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  22. 22. Public Library Interview Process <ul><li>Timeline </li></ul><ul><li>The Interview </li></ul><ul><li>Tips from Library Managers </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  23. 23. Timeline: More Like a Sprint <ul><li>HR advertises position: 2-4 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>HR screens applications: 1-4 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Library screens applications further & schedules interviews: 1-2 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>Library interviews candidates: 1-2 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>HR offers employment: within 2 weeks </li></ul><ul><li>(approximate times, your mileage may vary) </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  24. 24. Public Library Interview (entry level) <ul><li>Lasts about 1-2 hours </li></ul><ul><li>You provide your own transportation, or interview via phone or Skype </li></ul><ul><li>Interview panel is small: 2-4 people </li></ul><ul><li>May be asked in advance to give presentation, story time or book talk </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  25. 25. Public Library Interview (entry level) <ul><li>For YA & Children’s positions, expect questions that test your knowledge of literature for that age level </li></ul><ul><li>Expect “current awareness” questions (trends & issues affecting public libraries) </li></ul><ul><li>Tour of branch or work area </li></ul><ul><li>May meet & chat with some current staff </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  26. 26. Public Library Interview (entry level) <ul><li>Most likely, no free lunch. </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  27. 27. What hasn’t changed <ul><li>Dress up </li></ul><ul><li>Be polite </li></ul><ul><li>Defend every item on your resume </li></ul><ul><li>Do your homework </li></ul><ul><li>Send ‘thank you’ notes </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  28. 28. What also hasn’t changed <ul><li>The importance of cover letters </li></ul><ul><li>Make it specific to the job you are applying for </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure names are spelled correctly </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure everything is spelled correctly </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  29. 29. Even more that hasn’t changed <ul><li>Prepare those you ask for references </li></ul><ul><li>Share your current resume, cover letter and position announcement </li></ul><ul><li>Give them ammunition for the reference call </li></ul><ul><ul><li>projects you worked on for/with them </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>anecdotes about your interactions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>positive comments by patrons, co-workers </li></ul></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  30. 30. What has changed #1 <ul><li>Review your social media presence </li></ul><ul><li>Change your Facebook privacy settings to limit access </li></ul><ul><li>Create a professional email address ( NOT </li></ul><ul><li>Be aware of listserv etiquette </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  31. 31. What has changed #2 <ul><li>Brush up on your presentation skills </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t create victims of “death by PowerPoint” </li></ul><ul><li>Speak to the audience, not to the projection screen </li></ul><ul><li>Spell-check! </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  32. 32. What has changed #3 <ul><li>When Skyping, keep the cat out of the room </li></ul><ul><li>See what your camera sees </li></ul><ul><li>Choose a professional background </li></ul><ul><li>Dress for an emergency (head to toe) </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  33. 33. Wisdom from Public Library Managers <ul><li>Don’t discount a job in a smaller library system for your first position </li></ul><ul><li>Look for jobs on city & county websites </li></ul><ul><li>Consider Children’s or YA Librarian positions </li></ul><ul><li>For public service positions, you MUST like to work with people </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  34. 34. Wisdom from Library Managers <ul><li>Nights & weekends required </li></ul><ul><li>In local government, the application gets you in the door </li></ul><ul><li>Job searching etiquette is important </li></ul><ul><li>Applicant pools may be large. Don’t give up! </li></ul><ul><li>Good luck! </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  35. 35. Suggestions from screening committee chairs <ul><li>Google yourself and be prepared to explain what you find </li></ul><ul><li>Ask questions of each group you meet </li></ul><ul><li>Act as though you are on stage at all times during the visit </li></ul>#interviewbetterVLA
  36. 36. Thanks for coming! Slide deck is available on SlideShare (search for VLA interviewing) Any questions? #interviewbetterVLA