The Interview and You

By , September 5, 2012 3:08 pm

by Philippe Cloutier 

One of the top library blogs I follow regularly is Hiring Librarians. The posts are especially useful for managers and those seeking work (obviously). However the general information makes for great professional development reading. Also on display is the intelligence and ability of library managers. For the most part hiring managers hit the nail on the head for job hunting tips. Yet once in awhile a phrase or two will stick out and confuse, as the latest finds:

What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?
“Ever since I was a little girl/boy I’ve wanted to be a librarian.” This is almost always a lie. Librarianship is often a second-choice field. It comes after people spend a couple of years trying to be an artist/ conservator/ writer etc. It’s a practical career for an artistic or literary type. So don’t tell me it was your dream. It’s a great job, but it’s nobody’s dream.

That’s quite a harsh look at our profession and a rousing character-generalization. Maybe I am naive but why would anyone lie about wanting to be a librarian or that being a librarian is their dream? It was my dream in high school. And I am certain many of our first jobs are in libraries, thus being a librarian is a first choice. The manager’s judgement comes off strongly and odder still if worthy enough to shoot down an applicant. Another common mistake people make in an interview:

Too many people put on their insincere, nervous, aiming-to-please interview face. The interview face is just a barricade between me and full understanding of a candidate. It is a problem to fix, not an asset. Please do away with the interview face. Just be straight with your interviewers. Don’t try to tell them what you think they want to hear.

Ouch, no sympathy/empathy for the interviewee apparently. The long and short of it is that an interview puts strangers into a room wherein each party is trying to impress on each other their value. The consensus is that both sides should value being genuine (as much as the situation can demand) and professional. Looking for positives across the table is key, while the non-dreaming Librarian in the post is mainly focused on the negative, keeping any eye-out for the ever tricky: “spineless, unsure person.” The take-aways from that post are short, next time you’re in the interview booth don’t be nervous and no matter what happens:

 Don’t chew gum, wear paisley, show up late, etc. There are standards.

2 Responses to “The Interview and You”

  1. Amy Eaton says:

    Mary Whisner’s excellent column in the most recent LLJ addresses the dreaded “what is your weakness” question. Another must read for the interviewee!

  2. Philippe says:

    @amy If an interviewee wanted to cover their bases they could go with: “I have a weakness for paisley.”

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