It’s that time of year when summer reading is in full swing. Kids are everywhere, programs are non-stop, and everyone wishes it wasn’t 104 degrees outside.
It’s also that time of year when people are applying for those summer jobs. In our case, we’ve seen many library jobs open up around these parts. I’ve had many people ask for basic tips about jobs and interviews lately. While I refer them to our job section and to online resources at work, I can use my own little box here to talk about my experiences hiring people and some of the things I’ve encountered over the years.
DO: Ask what times you’d be scheduled for.
DON’T: Immediately tell us all the times you’re not available.
Sure, everyone wants to know when they’ll be expected to work. However, if you come in with a list of demands – I can’t work Wednesday or Thursday nights, Monday or Tuesday mornings, Saturday afternoons or every other Friday – it’ll leave us thinking A) you’re not flexible and B) wonder what else you’ll demand later. To quote a friend, “you’re here for the job – the job ain’t here for you.”
DO: Dress professionally, no matter what the position.
DON’T: Wear a cartoon or band t-shirt with cargo pants.
You might want to wear that if you’re auditioning for a rock band, but not for any kind of position in the library. A suit and tie isn’t necessary, but you can’t come from your band audition, either. While we’re on this topic…
DO: Try to dress for the position you’re interested in.
DON’T: Wear something that you’d never wear on the job.
I remember hiring for a children’s librarian position many years ago, and one candidate came in with a plaid shirt, jean miniskirt and 6-inch spike heels. Again, please change after your rock band audition, because miniskirts and heels don’t scream “toddler story time” or “lots of walking/shelving”.
DO: Bring a copy of your resume.
DON’T: Assume we know everything about you.
I’ve interviewed people in the past who have brought their own resumes to the interview to pass around, and I really like that for several reasons:
- It refreshes my memory of who you are
- It’s a quick reference guide and allows me to ask questions
- It also gives me an idea of your skill with Microsoft word. Even if it’s a total formatting disaster, you still brought something in and it shows me you’re trying.
On the flip side of this, I’ve interviewed people who walk in believing we know their life story. When we ask you to tell us about yourself, answering with “well, you have my application, you know all about me. Do you have any questions for me?”
Sorry to burst your bubble, but there were 400 other applicants and you’re one of the lucky 5 or so that we picked. We’re flattered you think we’ve been watching you for months and building a CIA dossier on you, but you’re a person who filled out a job application on the internet and we really just want to hire somebody.
DO: Tell us your strengths.
DON’T: Contradict your strengths.
If you tell us that you’re a people person who really believes in listening to others but then interrupt us every chance you get, it kind of makes us wonder if we’re all operating on the same scales. I once had a person years ago tell me they were “very into eye contact” and making the patron feel comfortable, yet they never looked me in the eyes.
DO: Tell us how you think libraries make a difference or how they’ve impacted your life.
DON’T: Tell us how much you love to read books and would love to have a job where you get to read. You’re not here to read, you’re here to work.
Why do you want to work here? If the answer is “I’ve always wanted to read more and be in a library”, then we pretty much tune out and wait for the interview to be done. If anything, I feel like library work has made me read less. Back in the olden days when I was a bartender, I drank less because drinking reminded me of work. I still read, but it sometimes feels like I’m taking work home with me.
What experiences have YOU had with interviews? Tell us about it on on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for a chance to be featured! Stay cool out there this summer!
Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian