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GSLIS Continuing Education The Library Interview Laura Saunders Fall 2003.

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Presentation on theme: "GSLIS Continuing Education The Library Interview Laura Saunders Fall 2003."— Presentation transcript:

1 GSLIS Continuing Education The Library Interview Laura Saunders Fall 2003

2 Interviews Interviews are arguably the single most important part of the job application process. First impressions are important- make sure yours is a good one. Preparation- including research- is essential.

3 Etiquette Essentials Arrive on time! –Travel the route ahead of time if you are unsure of it. –Allow extra time for traffic. –If you are more than 10 minutes early, don’t check in. Take the extra time to visit the restroom, get a coffee, relax. –Never be late, but if you are, NEVER skip the interview. Call if possible to explain the situation.

4 Etiquette Essentials Dress appropriately –Though the work environment may be casual, conservative and formal attire is still best for the interview. –A suit is always good, otherwise dress pants, skirts, nice shirts (and ties) or sweaters, etc. –Dress shoes- no sneakers! –Limit accessories- i.e. jewelry, scarves, etc. –Avoid perfume. Keep hair and nails simple.

5 Interview Prep: Researching Employers Researching the employer is one of the most essential- and most often ignored- steps in preparing for an interview. There are several reasons to research an employer before an interview: –One of the biggest complaints of hiring managers is that interviewees do not know enough about the institution they are interviewing with. Researching the organization will allow you to better answer interviewer’s questions and will help convince the employer that you are truly interested in working for them- not just looking for any job.

6 Interview Prep: Researching Employers –Part of your job during an interview is to decide if the institution and job are a good match for you. Researching the employer will help you begin to make that decision by helping you learn about the culture of the organization. –At some point in the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Not asking questions will lead the interviewer to think you are not really interested. Researching the organization will help you formulate and prepare intelligent questions that display your knowledge of both the industry and the institution.

7 Interview Prep: Researching Employers There are many ways to research an employer (and as librarians you are already familiar with most of them!) including: –Institution web sites –Literature/ news reviews of the institution (check local and trade publications) –Literature searches for articles by/ about other staff members –Annual reports

8 Interview Prep: Researching Employers Types of information to gather before an interview: –Current trends/ issues in the library field (also current trends in the corporation’s field of business for special libraries). –Knowledge of the “business” of the library (i.e. the area of business for a corporate library, degrees and majors supported in an academic library). –Demographics of the population served. –Types of programs/ services offered by the library. –Specific issues facing this institution- i.e. renovations, mergers, budget cuts, etc. –Organizational culture- try to ascertain the “feel” of the place, are they laid-back? Corporate? Serious? – and will you fit into that culture?

9 Interview Prep: Sample Questions/ Mock Interviews One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to actually practice your answers to common interview questions. The course web page offers links to sites with sample library interview questions. Many college career centers offer mock interview services- check with your school or alma mater.

10 Interview Prep: Review Resume and Job Description Before the interview, take time to review your resume so that you can talk easily about all of your experiences. Remember- anything on your resume is fair game for the employer to ask about. Also, review the job description. Try to determine what the most important skills and qualifications are for the job, and then think about examples of those skills from your own experience. Be prepared to describe the skills and qualifications that you have that best fit the job, and give examples of them.

11 Types of Interviews Interviews come in various types. Be prepared for: –Phone interviews Some institutions use phone interviews to pre-screen candidates. Treat the phone interview just as seriously as you would any other. Since you can’t rely on nonverbal cues in a phone interview, you have to convey your interest with your voice. Smile as you talk- it will come through. –Panel Interviews Includes more than one interviewer at a time. Make eye contact with each of the interviewers, not just the one asking the question. –Day Long Some institutions schedule interviews that will last a half day or more, and may include meetings with different people and even lunch or dinner. Sleep well the night before and have a snack before the interview to keep your energy up. –Presentations Some institutions may require a presentation or a mock bibliographic instruction session. Remember- practice makes perfect! Run through your presentation several times beforehand, and get feedback from your career center and/ or colleagues.

12 Interview Questions Although every interview will be different, and all interviews will have a mix of different kinds of questions, there are some common questions that you can prepare for:

13 Open-Ended Questions Generally these are questions that ask you to talk about yourself and you leave you a lot of room to answer. These questions are your chance to sell yourself and your skills to the employer! Sample open-ended questions: –Tell me about yourself. –Why are you interested in this position? –What makes you stand out from other candidates? –What are your greatest strengths?

14 Open-Ended Questions When answering open-ended questions, have 3-5 skills or qualifications in mind that you have and that match the job description. Talk about these qualifications, and make the connection between your skills and the job you are applying for. It is always helpful to give concrete examples of your skills- i.e. I have great communication skills- I have published two papers.

15 Behavioral Questions These questions are aimed at finding out how you will act/ have acted in certain situations. Sample behavioral questions: –Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult/ upset patron. –What would you do if you overheard a colleague giving out incorrect information? –Tell us about in your professional experience where you took initiative.

16 Behavioral Questions As with open-ended questions, concrete examples are best. Use the STAR method to answer these questions: –S-ituation: Describe a situation related to the question. –T-ask: Describe the task that you needed to complete in order to resolve the situation. –A-ction: Describe the action you took to resolve the situation. –R-esult: Describe the result- and always use an example with a positive result!

17 Negative Questions Be on guard for questions that could elicit a negative response like: –What is your greatest weakness? –What do you like least about your current position? –Who was your least favorite supervisor and why? –If you could change anything about your job what would it be and why? –Why are you leaving your current position?

18 Negative Questions Always answer the previous questions in a positive way. For instance, instead of saying you hated your last supervisor because she was a micromanager, you could say “I’ve been lucky that I’ve always gotten along well with my supervisors. I did have one supervisor who tended to give a lot of direction, but I found that if I took the initiative and kept her informed about what I was doing, I gained her confidence and she would give me more independence.”

19 General Strategies There are some general strategies that you should use regardless of the type of question: –Be positive- do not complain about past work experiences, supervisors or colleagues. Remember that it’s a small world! –Be enthusiastic- take every opportunity to reiterate your interest in the position. –Emphasize your skills- remember to always relate your skills and experiences back to the job description- remind them why you are the best candidate for the job.

20 General Strategies cont’d –Give concrete examples whenever possible. –Answer the question asked- If you are confused by a question, try re-phrasing it to be sure you understand, or politely ask for clarification. –If a question throws you off, it is okay to take a couple of seconds to think about your answer. You can even buy time by saying “that’s a good question, let me think for a minute.”

21 Illegal Questions There are some types of questions that could be used to discriminate against job applicants. These questions generally pry into your personal life and do not pertain to the job such as questions about: your religion, marital status, childcare situations, disability status, etc. You do not need to answer these questions if they are asked.

22 Illegal Questions If you are asked one of these questions, and do not want to outright refuse to answer it, you could: –Politely ask how the question relates to the job description, or how they think your job performance might be affected. –Try to get at the reason behind the question- i.e. if the employer asks about your childcare situation, they may be worried that you won’t be able to work the required hours. Ask if that is the case, and reassure them of your commitment to the job. –You can simply answer the question if you feel comfortable doing so.

23 Your Questions At some point, probably toward the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. You should always ask a few questions. Not asking questions will signal a lack of interest or enthusiasm to the employer, so prepare a list of questions in advance. Also, this is your chance to interview the employer and make sure that this job and institution are really a good match for you. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn all you can. Your questions should be pertinent to the job or institution, but should not be questions that you could have answered yourself through your research of the employer.

24 Your Questions Some sample questions you could ask: –What learning opportunities are there in this position/ at this institution? –How did this job become available OR why did the previous person leave this job? –What is a typical day like? –What do you like most/ least about working here? –What is your timeline for filling this position? (This will help you get an idea of when you might hear back from them). Do NOT ask about salary or benefits.

25 Nonverbal Cues Your nonverbal communication is at least as important to your getting hired as your verbal communication: –Have a firm handshake when meeting people. –Maintain eye contact. If there is more than one person interviewing you, be sure to move your gaze around the room so you can make contact with all of the interviewers. –Have good posture. You can also lean forward a little to demonstrate energy and enthusiasm. –If you have nervous habits- such as twitching your feet, fidgeting, etc.- practice controlling them. –Smile.

26 Follow-up After every interview, always send a thank you card. If you met with more than one person, you could send each a card, or send one to the person who coordinated the interview and ask them to forward your thanks to the others. Make sure you check the spelling of names and the titles of the people you are writing to. In general, thank you notes should be typed on resume paper. However, they can be ed or handwritten if it seems appropriate to the culture of the institution. In your thank you note, reiterate your interest and enthusiasm for the position. You can also remind the employer of why you are the best match for the position.

27 Follow-up It is generally advisable to follow-up after your interview to check on the status of your candidacy. If you were given a time-frame of when you would hear back from the hiring committee, wait for them to contact you. If the date they gave you passes and you don’t hear from them, you can then call or to check the status of the position. If you were not given a time frame, wait about a week to 10 days before contacting the institution. When you do call or , be polite and enthusiastic.

28 In Summary Remember- practice makes perfect. It can take three to four interviews to hit your stride, so try to make one of those a practice interview- check with your career center. Do your research. Show interest and enthusiasm!


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