Thursday, February 28, 2008

Job Interviewee Questions

A commenter on yesterday's post related a story about a job interview that sent up so many red flags that the person withdrew from consideration on the spot. It sounded like a terrible place, but it set me to wondering what sorts of red flags people might see in a job interview and what questions they might ask to elicit evasive responses from interviewers desperate to bring anyone in to their awful library.

Of course if you know about the library, you could ask questions like, "Are you planning to further demote any librarians?" or "If I start at this salary, will my salary be going up over the years, or down?"

I've been on interviews where I've wanted to ask whether things were always this dusty or when they were planning to replace the lights or why was everyone I met during the interview so surly, but I didn't, and look at me now. I heard about an interview once where the interviewee at some point decided she didn't want the job and just started swearing like a sailor at every meeting after lunch.

Those questions and that behavior are so direct and aggressive, though, and designed to make the interviewers not like you. It seems like a bad idea to be aggressive and hostile to interviewers, even if they're trying to trick you into coming there. One never knows what the situation will be ten years down the line.

But I put the question to you. What sort of problematic signals should librarians, especially perhaps new librarians, be looking for on job interviews, and what sort of polite questions should they ask to find out what problems they will be facing?

100 comments:

Anonymous said...

My first job out of LS, they told me that it was a "very flexible position and with a lot of opportunity to do things my own way." That.... sounded good. Until I realized that it also meant that there was absolutely nothing to do.

Oh, but you say maybe I was just unmotivated and I didn't take the initiative when they handed it to me? Do you think about all the little things you could do to sexy up your little niche when they hand you free rein (reign?)?

You must know, however, that I was a microfilm librarian, with a staff of 2 fte and 12 students in a university library's basement. The place ran itself, and I ran as well after two and a half years of boredom and torture.

God save me from ever going back there.

Anonymous said...

During your interview, ask their opinion on article search technologies. I find the topic to be a very divisive and polarizing; they'll either love it or they'll hate it. If they hate it, then quite possibly it's considered a threat to their livelihood, which of course means resistant to change. After all, this is 2008, not 1908.

Anonymous said...

To me, the organizational culture is the most important thing to find out about. I try to ask a lot of people about the culture in different ways throughout the day. Usually the answers I get tell me volumes about how much people like each other, how much they like their work, and how much they like the UL or Director. I also ask people what they like most about working there and if it's "the benefits" or "the area" (or something else not really related to the day-to-day work), I see that as a red flag.

I once was talking about usability of library catalogs at an interview and one of the search committee members said "our catalog is easy to use. The problem is that our students aren't smart enough to use it." That was the moment I decided I didn't want to work there.

Also, the way you're treated during your visit speaks volumes about the organization. The library I work at now paid for a much more expensive direct flight for me to get to the interview (which I hadn't even asked for) and made sure I'd seen the area before I left. With another interview, I had to find my own way from the airport to the hotel and was not shown around town even though there was easily enough time for it.

Anonymous said...

-Try to find out why your predecessor (if there is one) left and how long he/she was there.

-It's also good to have an idea of how many people are being interviewed for the position. If you are 1 of only 2 or 3 interviewees, there might be a good reason. Maybe word has gotten around.

-Never agree to an interview before knowing the exact salary range. If they don't want to divulge that, there's something wrong with the organization.

-Beware of a library where, when you're introduced to staff, they say with a weird expression on their faces, "Oh, so you'll work with [fill in blank]!" or "So you'll be working in THAT department?"

Anonymous said...

I'll second the comment about how you're treated during your visit speaks volumes about the organization. One place I interviewed forgot to pick me up at the airport, didn't have anyone meet me at the hotel to make sure I found my way to the library, didn't offer me water once on a 100 degree day where I was going back and forth between buildings in my interview suit and heels, and didn't have anyone make sure I got back to the hotel after my interview was over. Even better - I found out after the fact that the internal candidate who got the job was at work the day of my interview, met me and attended my presentation prior to interviewing themselves the next day. Needless to say I wasn't too upset to have not gotten an offer from this place.

Anonymous said...

1) I was asked to travel 1000k for an interview with only 6 days notice (the SC knew my FPOW was very short-staffed, but didn't seem to care) and was asked to put the entire trip on my credit card to be reimbursed later. They neglected to tell me that if I didn't accept the offer, I would be responsible for part of the travel costs. I was also asked to have two presentations ready to go. I declined the interview because there were other red flags and I had a firm offer that I wanted to accept.
2) The other red flag about this place was that they were far more interested in cultivating their positions as faculty members than as librarians. The phone interview consisted of one guy rambling about his research. I was so bored and wanted to hang up. I was very surprised they invited me to come to campus. To this day, the position has not been filled.
3) Another institution's SC had the audacity to ask such condescending questions about my FPOW, which has been chronically underfunded. Let me give you an example. I cited a creative way we assisted a department on a shoestring. They weren't impressed because this was one person's response: How was that a success? *sarcastic tone* Has the position been filled yet? Nope. It's been over two years, BTW.
4)Another SC complained about how their students were stupid and lazy. The same SC asked me how to get free MARC records because they were tired of paying OCLC.

After you get the offer, if HR doesn't promptly provide you with health insurance info., etc., think twice about accepting the position.

SRlibrarian said...

I find it important to know how they interact with an information technology group- even if they have a systems librarian. Do they feel that IT (or whatever) does nothing for them? Do they work on exciting projects with the department? In my current job they can't stop complaining about how IT abuses us. The reality is that we have a wonderful relationship with the department. They not only collaborate with us on new projects, but make sure our hardware and software needs are met.

I also feel it is important, for academic positions at least, to ask about the relationship with faculty. This will reveal how they see their place in the institution.

Identify your vision of an ideal position and ask questions to see if it matches up. I too was told I needed to be a self-starter and be self-motivated. I was told I had free reign to develop an new instruction program. What that really means is that my director can not be bothered to supervise me and has no idea how to manage me. It means the rest of the librarians were 5 years behind in technology and practice of our field. It means that I could sit here all day and do nothing as long as I was a warm body at the reference desk and went to some classes to do sessions. I loved it for a few years because I was self-motivated, but now I hate that I can't take this farther as my director has no idea what I am doing in order to advocate for more money for my programs. I end up being myself and my own supervisor. I learned to ask what the committees think the directors strengths and weaknesses are.

WDL said...

a)Find out when they hired the last librarian.
b)Find out about the community you'll be working in. Conservative Republican, Homophobic = no WDL
c)Ask how many volumes in the collection. If they don't know, that's a flag.
d)Ask the square footage of the building. If they don't know, that's a flag. How can you be unaware of your space & potential for growth & moving things around?
e)Ask if they have a reference policy.
f)Does the organization have same sex partner benefits? Not a valuable question to everyone, but it is if you are a homo.
g)Ask how long the position you are filling has been vacant. hem haw = flag.
h)Ask why the last person left. Hem haw = flag.
i)Ask about professional development budget. You don't want to work some place with a total $500 budget - if you are let go, what are you taking with you?
j)Ask for titles of professional journals they subscribe to. If the interviewers don't know, they don't read them. flag.
k)Ask what the "other responsibilities as assigned" means. If this means a cataloger covering for cleaning staff....flag.
l)Ask about the personnel budget. If the interviewer doesn't know about it, thats a flag.
m)Ask about a typical work week. Is it really 40 hours on salary? Or is it hourly. Usually librarians are exempt - if you put in 60 hours, your pay scale is lower then they are quoting you for 40 hours.
n)Ask where the organization sees itself in 5 years. Will they be growing? Will you get to grow with them? or will you be a budget cut?
o)Ask about the last grant the library wrote/won. If they don't know, that's kinda scarey. I'll call that a flag.
p)How many other librarians are there, and what does that mean statistically? How many librarians per patron? If it were a school, would you send your child to it? (ie. one teacher to 150 students?)
q)When is the last time the web site was updated? Is tech support in house?
r)How long has the library used an OPAC? What system is it? If they don't know, out of touch and red flag.
s)When is the last time signage was evaluated/updated in the building?
t)How often are in house staff development trainings offered?
u)Do they have a full list of programs and services available?
v)How many data bases does the library subscribe to, and could they name the most frequently used?
x)Will you be the only person that knows how to use wireless technology? Who else can get a lap top up and going for a patron?
y)Find out how long the other librarians have been on staff. Has there been a recent wave of retirements/walk outs?
z)Can you bring monkies to work with you.

If they can't answer these questions efficiently and quickly (often its fun to find out before you go, just to see if they can answer them.) A library should be in touch with their community as well as their staff.

Just my firm opinions.

Anonymous said...

Any candidate for a librarian position who ask 26+ questions about things they could find out before the interview sends up red flags.

BS questions fly both ways and if you are interviewing for an professional position where one of the main reasons you will be hired for is finding information, asking such stupid questions leads the interviewer to think that you don't have a clue how to do research.

my firm opinions.

WDL said...

Did you read them? The last question was about monkies.

Of course, you could sit in the chair, and pick your fingernails while they ask you the vapid questions, that they could have found out before you arrived too.

Do your research.

Just my firm opinions.

:)

xo,
WDL

AL said...

From a reader who came up against a blogger posting glitch:

"I had two red flags on two separate job interview experiences:

1) I was asked to take a written personality test as part of an interview for a public library.That was creepy. This library also was rumored to be falling apart staffwise, and when I asked a question about what was happening, they lied smoothly. Not a place I would want to work.

2) At another interview, the person who interviewed me refused to tell me anything about the position. This was an academic library position at a small local college. When I asked why she was not willing to share any information about the job (job description, hours, working conditions, this was not a sensitive question about salary!), she informed me that the first interview was exclusively for them to make up their minds about me, and not for me to learn about the job. I immediately withdrew my name. Not a place I would want to work."

WDL said...

I was just thinking, one wouldn't ask all 26 of my questions in one sitting! They are to pick and choose from.

Anyone who would ask all 26 questions shouldn't be interviewing.

xo,
WDL

anonymous said...

when making casual conversation over lunch during the interview day, find a way to bring up a recent news story of animal abuse or the one about the nation's food supply poisoned by meat from downed cattle. If the committee doesn't express the appropriate amount of outrage/disgust then you may not want to work there.

But seriously, the anonymous at 9:35 a.m. had a variation on my favorite question:

"what makes this a great place to work?"

Look for genuine enthusiasm - watched for answers that sound stilted. (Librarians often come off as stuffy introverts when answering these questions.) If you're astute at reading people's faces & voices, you'll be able to figure out whether or not they're lying sacks of crap who trample their co-workers for fun & sport.

Hedgehog Librarian said...

My favorite question from my last interview: What's the biggest challenge facing this library currently?

It doesn't need to be negative but it should give you and idea on where the library is trying to grow. If they don't have "any challenges" that would be a red flag for me.

Anonymous said...

Before you advance to the interview stage at Marathon, though, there's something else. I noticed on the application that they require a typing test for their customer services lead librarian. Guess you don't want to be typing your blog or MySpace or whatever too slowly or wiht to mny erors.

WDL: Now I'm feeling a bit bad about my job. I don't have a monkey but if I did, I don't think I could bring it to work. Shoot. And I thought I had the perfect job.

anonymous said...

Bring along holy water...accidentally spill some on a search committee member or a library employee....if they scream "it burns! it burns!" then you probably don't want to work there.

Anonymous said...

Someone should package all these opinions under a new blog post. Red Flags at a Job Interview.

Professional development is something to inquire about as well as those other responsibilities as assigned. I became a cable guy at my last job. Now I know how to wire and network printers. Woo-hoo.

Always always inspect the environment. Never take a job if it sounds real good. Check out the place where you'd be working, the office where you'd be spending hours.

j- said...

*I was just thinking, one wouldn't ask all 26 of my questions in one sitting! They are to pick and choose from.

Anyone who would ask all 26 questions shouldn't be interviewing. *

If I were you I'd really refrain from asking question B in any over way whatsoever. I mean, you should know just from the zip code of the library what the neighborhood is like, and deduction leads me to believe that you only want to work in places like San Francisco, Seattle, Madison, NW DC or Manhattan. You know, good liberal areas with massive amounts of drug-addicted homeless zombies or drunk college students or carjackers roaming the streets.

*The last question was about monkies*

What the heck is a "monkie"? Applicants who are too preoccupied to spell mundane words correctly raise a flag of their own.

Anonymous said...

If the SC launches into salary negotiation before you have an offer on the table, that usually is a bad sign.

When I asked why she was not willing to share any information about the job (job description, hours, working conditions, this was not a sensitive question about salary!), she informed me that the first interview was exclusively for them to make up their minds about me, and not for me to learn about the job.

Yes, be very wary of places where the SC acts like they are doing you a favor by interviewing you.

Sometimes, it will be so obvious that a place sucks. One of the most glaring examples I recall is from an academic library SC with an openly hostile chairperson at the helm. She didn't like my definition of a uniform title and blew up at me in front of the SC. My definition was correct, and to this day, I am not clear why she flipped out. She must be great to work for--there is a constant turnover of catalogers in her department. Oh, and I didn't get the job :)

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Musgrove said...

Red flags at advertising stage: be very wary of any post/organisation that is

(a) Challenging
(b) Exciting
(c) Flexible
(d) Really buzzing

You're facing either bullshit or disaster. Which doesn't mean that it might not be fun to go to the interview.

Oh, and if the call to interview is more than three months after the closing date for applications you can draw your own conclusions!

Anonymous said...

You want to find out a bit about a library you are going to interview at?

Call up ahead of time with an anonymous reference question.

With a bit of work on your part, you should be able to come up with a challenging question that they should be able to answer without wasting too much of their time.

The way you get treated during such a question will tell you loads about the library beyond what you can glean from their web site.

I called one public academic library that was looking to hire and they were rude from the get go, put me on hold forever, and then instead of answering my question, hung up on me.

That spoke volumes about the library, how the staff treats "patrons/clients/users/idiots", and is a good indication how management treats the staff.

Did I still apply and go ahead with the interview?

You bet, and guess what?

It was a place to avoid.

As for getting to the interview and getting tours, I have always felt that it was on me to do that kind of stuff. I pay my own way and I avoid dog and pony shows. Guided tours leave lots to be desired.

Anonymous said...

My favorite questions to ask are (1) What is the best thing about working here? - this is really just a warm up for the next question - and (2) What is the worst thing about working here?

I had someone spit out the name of a person, a person I would have to work with! When I asked the director about the person, I received a heavy sigh and shaking of the head. - I declined the position.

Anonymous said...

Yes professional development and money for travel is a top one in my book (for academia). If they are tenure track and not willing to fund travel then I would not be interested in working there. Also look at how they handle and organize the interviewing process. If they take too long to get in touch with you that could be a sign they are not a)flushed with money to bring you out or b)not well organized. Also if they are disorganized when checking your references like calling them up on the spot and not scheduling a phone interview ahead of time then you may want to even reconsider interviewing with them!

The.Effing.Librarian said...

Red flags at advertising stage: be very wary of any post/ organisation that is

(a) Challenging
(b) Exciting
(c) Flexible
(d) Really buzzing


yeah. the job description should be concrete and not some ethereal bag of unicorn wishes.
also, use their services; email the webmaster or reference and see how they reply and how long it takes. get to the interview early enough to look around at who works there and how they interact. and most important, ask "does the annoyed librarian work here?" if they know who you're talking about, maybe they're cool enough to work with.

Anonymous said...

"she informed me that the first interview was exclusively for them to make up their minds about me, and not for me to learn about the job. I immediately withdrew my name. Not a place I would want to work."

Smart move. That just shows a collective lack of social skills. Why is it that so many librarians have horrible social skills?!!? There's always going to be at least one person in any library with horrible social skills but the trick is avoiding the places where's it's permeated to the whole staff.

Anonymous said...

I don't need to bring monkeys to work. They're here already.

Anonymous said...

"I called one public academic library that was looking to hire and they were rude from the get go, put me on hold forever, and then instead of answering my question, hung up on me."

Yeah, but it depends on the librarian who answers the phone. Not to brag but students seem to think I'm polite and relatively pleasant. Talking to me you would get the feeling that my library is a great place to work. You'd get the real story if you happened to catch one of our administrators at the desk. They are nasty to students.

Ed Crank -- Librarian said...

Yes professional development and money for travel is a top one in my book (for academia). If they are tenure track and not willing to fund travel then I would not be interested in working there.

You should ask if you get a martini allowance also.

Anonymous said...

Big red flags to me:

1. "New" positions with relatively undefined goals. To some go-getters it's may sound great, but in the stodgy and hidebound world of libraries it's something else.

Example: A job I had that was a "librarian" but was really two staff jobs smushed together, with essentially staff duties. Another was an interview for a consulting agency that had never had a librarian before, and every person I talked to had a different idea what they wanted.

2. Changing ideas, priorities, goals, and not a clue what they really want.

Example: My first job (which ruined my career), where I was told first they'd fly me, then I had to take a bus. They would let me know their decision in a week, but called me the next day. When I got there I found the property tax campaign had failed so there was no money for all the projects they'd talked about.

3. Staff turnover, personality problems that stand out.

Example: One library I interviewed at had no librarians working there, just a staff person and the director covering the desk. Another had my potential boss supervising three people, all of whom had just quit.

4. The boss is planning big projects that aren't really needed, mainly to punch their ticket.

Example: A new director wanted to make a program of library teaching to the exclusion of all other things, such as major budget problems. Another wanted to collect all interlibrary loan articles into an archive and damn the copyright.

5. Major money problems, which unfortunately is most libraries.

Example: The Director kept nervously referring to how well the budget was in the interview, or another library that wanted me to pay for my plane ride to Texas and a 250 mile car ride out of my own pocket.

6. They don't care

Example: A library I was at that had to round up the interviewer panel because they were busy doing other things, and one person I knew ended up being stuck at the airport because the library forgot what flight they were coming in on and no one went to meet them.

7. They obviously didn't read your resume.

Example: Many places that asked me about databases I hadn't developed, things beyond or out of my skill level, or inquired if I had any experience in what was my main area of expertise.

I could think of more but my blood pressure is going up from all the bad memories and I have to go lay down now..........

\bvb said...

My first job out of LS, they told me that it was a "very flexible position and with a lot of opportunity to do things my own way." That.... sounded good. Until I realized that it also meant that there was absolutely nothing to do.

I, too was told something similar in the job interview for my current position (which I really do like, actually). However, in my case it didn't mean nothing to do, it meant everything to do. I have chaired the Forms Committee for my hospital, currently oversee all patient education, do IT support for employees because our IT dept. doesn't have any help desk staff, create posters/fliers/websites for various departments, and also do all the "normal" library stuff - collection development, budgeting, research and reference, systems maintenance, electronic resources, marketing, information literacy training, etc., etc.

While I kind of like it - I got into this field because I'm a jack of all trades to begin with - be aware that the job you're applying for may not always be the only one you do.

\bvb

Taupey, the Bush Kangaroo said...

Just answer every question with a line from a popular song and gauge their reaction. Extra tip: Stay away from "I shot a man near Reno, just to watch him die."

WDL: Have you ever made an interviewer cry? Thought so.

Y'all who object to WDLs questions just might double check your closets for holiday themed sweaters. Check yourself but don't wreck your-self.

Anonymous said...

I work in the medical library area and I interviewed at one of the BIG hospital libraries. If you started naming prestigous medical facilities you would probably hit it within 3 tries.

Everything was fine. I was one of two people they were considering. The librarians would not (could not?) talk salary, only HR. The librarians would tell HR which candidate they wanted. HR's job was to explain the salary and benefits.

When HR finally told me the salary, I tried to negotiate because it was the SAME salary as my previous position. Depsite the new position being a higher position in a more expensive city, they wouldn't budge.

The lady in HR finally told me that I just didn't understand, that I should consider it a privilege to be employed by Uber Famous Prestigious insitution.

I turned down the position. Privilege doesn't pay my bills. My mortgage company could care less as to whether I am a trash collector for the city or a librarian for Fancy Shmancy Hospital, they want to be paid.

The HR person was shocked that I turned the position down just becasue of the salary. Which was fine because I was shocked that they paid so low. I later found out the other candidate also turned down the position due to money.

I wasn't asking for the moon and the stars. I think if a major institution cannot pay a competitive salary for its non MD and PhD employees then that shows you how much that institution thinks of the rest of its workforce.

Dances With Books said...

Wow, there is some good advice here when it comes to what to ask during an interview. WDL's on what journals they subscribe to and similar are good indications. It's not that they are things you can find out as a candidate with a good search; it's to see whether they themselves use the stuff and know it. Otherwise, it would be a sign of being out of touch.

I am in academia, so asking about funding for travel and pro. development is certainly important. While I am not tenure line, if you are applying for a job that is, it is crucial. Do not go if they do not fund you well. It simply says they don't put their money where their mouths are.

Anonymous said...

.....I do remember one place where they insisted on looking at my transcripts. Not that unusual except the committee chairman started hawking about how my degree said "Master of Science" and not "Master of Library Science."

After many, many e-mails trying to explain to the guy that EVERYONE who graduated from that University with a Master's in a Science had the same thing on their transcripts, that I was from a well-known ALA accredited school, and that there was both a website and a list of contacts to verify that, yes, indeedy, I had the damn MLS, I gave up and withdrew. He just kept repeating I was not submitting "proper documentation," which might explain why the position had been open for four years.

The very last place I interviewed at was positively bizarre. To make a long story short, the interviewer gave me a completely different job title and description than was posted, and there was only funding for one year--after which it would depend on grants and luck, and I would have to travel extensively in my own car.

This new position would involve setting up a "digital resource" that at least two other organizations had been fighting for and considered their project, and their differing goals would have to be appeased. Lastly, the interviewer was big on Web 2.0 but couldn't give a straight answer what the job would be doing with the fabled 2.0 tech. Needless to say I said nyet.

j- said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
j- said...

*Y'all who object to WDLs questions just might double check your closets for holiday themed sweaters. Check yourself but don't wreck your-self.*

Huge red flag: Southerners [or those who affect Southern accents/manners] who spout hip-hop cliches (and then do so incorrectly at that) while at the same time mismanaging hyphens. Reason? Possible overconsumption of lunchtime martinis.

Anonymous said...

re: "Well Dressed Librarian"

I'm surprised you also didn't ask them about their fashion sense.

As for taking "monkies" to work, I find it better to send one of the Monkees *to* work at my job. Not only do they appreciate the income on a 70/30 split, I get to spend all day making anonymous posts on blogs.

Kristen said...

My current workplace did everything right in the interview process. And then some, compared to these stories.

But one suggestion that I didn't already see : find their most recent annual/biennial report or strategic plan on their website, read it, and then ask about the status of a few of the projects. (I got satisfactory answers to this too, but it can be very revealing.)

Anonymous said...

Can a 1000 monkies (10,000?) typing away at their computers come up perfect MARC records faster, cheaper and better than trained professionals?

The only reason I ask is because my boss is thinking of dumping the professional staff and putting on monkies who will work for bananas. (As professionals we balked at that, we demanded banana daiquiris at a minimum)

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

If a position is tenured, ask what is required for tenure. I took a job at community college. I assumed that the second masters that I already had would suffice for tenure. It did not. They wanted and advanced degree (PhD) or another masters. I decided that have 3 was 2 too many. I left after the first semester. This was a crummy city community college for crist sakes! What else did they want? my first born and a kidney?

Anonymous said...

Or apparently I was drunk when they hired me, as I apparently appear to be with my typos in my previous post. That would be a good question to ask, Is drinking on the job OK? Encouraged?

AL said...

"ask "does the annoyed librarian work here?" if they know who you're talking about, maybe they're cool enough to work with."

I'm not sure anyone in my library even knows there is such a person.

I could certainly second a lot of these. I always put a high priority on travel funding, both because of my love of subsidized martinis, and my belief that it's unfair to make people travel to keep their jobs but not pay them.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I turned down a job not too long ago strictly because the salary was not only less than I was already making, but considerably less than what I'd told the HR person (during the interview after she asked the question) would be my minimum required salary. When I got the offer, I laughed and hung up the phone.

Chic Geek Librarian said...

Never take a situation where the interviewers ask if you're 'self-motivated'. I've fallen for this one twice and it means a lot of time on your own. And by own, I mean slumped over your desk wishing for death.

Anonymous said...

Be aware of job descriptions that say "This person will be expected to resolve issues with...". I had that in a job description once and asked about it in the interview. Their answer was just "Nothing is wrong, we just want it to work better." What this really means is "We don't know how the heck this widget works so we want you to teach us how to do a job you don't have yet". Not good.

Also, like someone already said, beware of salary offers that come in lower than what was advertised. Also salary offers followed by "I am embarrassed by this number..." I thanked my interviewer for the warning me and said "No thanks".

It's good to have questions prepared, but something I always try to do is ask the interviewer to explain things further or for clarification if something doesn't jive. For example, I was asked once "How do you deal with conflict in the work place?". I asked "Conflict is a general word. What type of conflict are you asking about?". Then the interviewer asked "How do you feel when someone asks you to do something that you are not comfortable with?". For some reason all I could think about was being sexually harassed... My expression must have been priceless. Maybe they were just trying to judge how I would deal with uncomfortable patron questions, but this was a corporate library. I didn't want to work there as soon as that was uttered. My answer was "If I do not feel comfortable with what I am being asked to do I address the situation directly with my supervisor or HR." I don't mess around with that.

ex-lib said...

When I got out of LS I found the job market was tight and ended up taking a job in an out of the way rural regional library. I tended to get typecast in similar jobs later. I did a good job, but didn't care for the location, pay, or much of what I did [as opposed to what I'd been hired to do]. This was why I asked specific questions about the Job[s]. If you recall, they pulled a "bait and switch" about the position, which sent up a gianr red flag there. What HADN'T I been told. Above all else, GET IT IN WRITING if you are offered a job, before you make a move. I was told I'd make X per year at the first job, but when I arrived I was paid a good bit less. Also, my job description changed from what I thought I'd be doing. I almost walked from that job several times, but figured I'd stick with it until I could eventually move on to something better. Ha! Evasive answers to simple questions made me wonder.
Bottom line, GET IT IN WRITING.

One other thing that sent up red flags; the staff were unusually reserved. In the course of the interview I happened to just mention the name of a network/person who ran it, and the head lib. just about lost it over the person, who I really didn't know. Been there, seen that. My former boss had a low blood sugar condition that made her irritable some days. I'd ask a question and would get my head taken off. I didn't know the cause of this until years later. Enough red flags were fluttering for me to know it wasn't worth the investment of time and $$ for a 500 mile move.

My experience on the second job I won't go into here. That could be the subject of an article. I'll simply say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

I had experience at interviews where I had to shell out big bucks for travel and was given a come-on like they were really interested, only to find they'd never seen a resume they didn't like. In at least one case they had someone else waiting to interview right after me. A lot of these positions, during a period where there was a really tight job market, were apparently open for a reason. That's one thing that ultimately turned me off on the whole business. I would have done better spending the money on lottery tickets. I'd get the prefunctory library tour, ask questions, get evasive answers. If you've ever talked to someone who REALLY is interested you can normally pick up on it. If it goes the library tour route, forget it. I will say that some of the folks who I talked with over the phone could have quite a career selling aluminum siding if they decide to leave the field.

The funny[?] thing about this is how blindly enthusiastic I once was about librarianship. I had my questions about why ALA was going off on political tangents instead of things that could improve the lot of libraries and librariansearly on, but thought this might have been an exceptional case, as I was new. y I see that hasn't changed. Judith Krug is still playing the stalking horse over censorship, etc., for the media, when the ethical treatment of librarians and professionalism in the field [note I no longer use the term "profession"] have a LONG way to go, at least as I've seen it. Do lip service to censorship, or the Bush Admin. trying to get information on what patrons read. I'm reminded of a line in "Pirates of the Carribean" when Jack Sparrow is making a big deal over the "Pirates Code", only to be told there are merely "guidelines". I had to laugh. Ditto with ALA's code of professional ethics.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I once failed an interview after asking: "How do you reconcile resource competition in your management team?"

Anonymous said...

WDL:

Thank you SO much for the extensive 26-question list. Obviously no one would ask all of them--you gave us a wealth from which to pick and choose depending on our position regarding monkeys.

I wonder what Mr. or Miss Anonymous Snarky ate for lunch today--please don't take the criticism seriously!

Anonymous said...

All the things to look out for before accepting a position are good as long as you're not in a situation where you have to accept that offer because
they haven't been coming along fast and furious. If you take it and after being there for a bit find the position is one from hell, at least you're more employable with a job than without.

Anonymous said...

Two red flags I've encountered:

1. If the person who will be your immediate supervisor is not present at your interview (except if it's due to a sudden, unforeseeable emergency). I accepted a job at a library where I was interviewed by the Director and Asst. Director while the Reference Manager (my future immediate supervisor) was on vacation. I soon learned that they deliberately scheduled interviews when this person wasn't there, because she was so unpleasant any applicant would run (as I did 4 months after foolishly accepting the job).

2. Beware of any place that says they're "looking for new blood" with lots of new ideas. Most of the time, they really aren't. Often this means that either a) management can't come up with any ideas on their own, and are looking to grab credit for yours; or b) management talks a good game about change but will put roadblocks up that prevent any actual new ideas from becoming reality, such as loving all your suggestions but refusing to fund them. If they say they welcome new ideas, ask for specifics their current employees have implemented. If possible, ask the rank and file themselves.

Anonymous said...

It's already been said, but try to find out *exactly* what the job entails. How much time will you spend on the desk, and is it providing reference services or is it just doing circulation? Will you have enough time daily to do the things they expect you to do? Obviously, you don't want to ask these things point-blank, but you can ask what a typical day would look like for you, or what your schedule would be like, and the answer can be very revealing. It'll indicate how much or how little control you have over your actions, whether you'll be micromanaged or given some leeway, and how much flexibility you have.

Also, you might want to find out how many committees you're automatically on by the virtue of the position, and how often you have meetings. That can really eat into your ability to do your job.

Finally, don't assume ANYTHING. I'm the person who has grumbled before on this blog about having to share a computer with other librarians. Silly me. I just assumed that as a "professional" librarian I would have a computer. My fault for assuming, I guess.

j- said...

*Do lip service to censorship, or the Bush Admin. trying to get information on what patrons read. I'm reminded of a line in "Pirates of the Carribean" when Jack Sparrow is making a big deal over the "Pirates Code", only to be told there are merely "guidelines". I had to laugh. Ditto with ALA's code of professional ethics.*

I used to work at a public library. At one of the quarterly staff meetings our "director" once briefed us on what to do when the FBI came looking for patron's records, which I found hilarious because it hadn't happened anywhere yet [and to my knowledge still hasn't]. After scads of other old, creaky, liberal dingbats added their moronic comments and acted like librarians were the final bulwark against encroaching fascism, I piped up and said that if Abu Dadullah came in and wanted to check out a bunch of books about explosives I'd drop a fucking dime on him myself without waiting for the federal boys to come busting in.

Give me a break. These are the same bunch of sanctimonious jerks that want to call child services when they see some kid being spanked or the police if they smell alcohol on some patron's breath. Who's the fascist?

ex-lib said...

"1. If the person who will be your immediate supervisor is not present at your interview (except if it's due to a sudden, unforeseeable emergency). I accepted a job at a library where I was interviewed by the Director and Asst. Director while the Reference Manager (my future immediate supervisor) was on vacation. I soon learned that they deliberately scheduled interviews when this person wasn't there, because she was so unpleasant any applicant would run (as I did 4 months after foolishly accepting the job)."

Oh, this one can be a career killer, literally. I know of a case where a friend had something similar to this happen,. Either the person was away on vacation or kept out of the loop in the decision to hire. When my friend started work the supervisor was not happy with anything this person did; Browbeat City. At the end of the 6 mo. probation period my friend was given a very negative evaluation and their walking papers. This was after moving about 2,000 miles back to their hometown after spending some 20+ years of working in a major academic library. The supervisor in question later packed her carpetbag and left to spread her enlightenment at another library.
My friend was never did return to the field, as if that would have been easy.-

Anonymous said...

Beware of any place that says they're "looking for new blood" with lots of new ideas.

I used to work at an institution that gave me the same lines during the interview, but when I started working there, it was a different story. Most of my ideas had nothing to do with purchasing products, but with changing ineffectual procedures. The bottom line is that no one really cared about tracking budgets, accurate bibliographic records, etc. I should have asked for specific ideas they had in mind.

Also, don't take a position if some one on the SC says one of the people you will be supervising is lazy. That was an understatement! Apparently management was too lazy to let this person go and hired me to be the hatchet man.

Anonymous said...

I just remember what a manager told me years ago,

"Watch out for whiny babies when you are interviewing. The whinier they are, the less they will add to your organization."

Words to live by.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skeptical Librarian said...

I went on an interview once that was really an aimless 1+ hour monologue (red flag #1)delivered by the "library director" without benefit of outline or script about the virtues of the library, the large numbers of volunteers who ran the library, how wonderful the library was in every respect, blah blah blah (red flag #2). My interview was her big chance to make herself feel better about this dysfunctional place that she was incapable of managing. She asked me only one question (red flag #3): "Why do you want to work here?" - for a milisecond she must have flashed on the fact that she was supposed to ask questions on an interview. Yikes! Let me outta here!

Anonymous said...

If you can't handle the questions, we don't want you working for us anyway.

Anonymous said...

Just remember that a matching tie and hankie will make up for a lot of deficiencies in your interviewing skills, resume, etc. . .

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the direct supervisor being absent from the interview as a red flag. In my experience, I find that another red flag is the supervisor's educational status. If you have a Bachelor's degree (or a Master's . . . or a doctorate) and the supervisor has, at best, only a GED, something's really wrong with that picture. That was my situation taking a reference job straight out of college in 1999. I and all the other underlings at the reference desk were college graduates, but the supervisor, who (wonder of wonders) had skyrocketed from Cleaning Lady to Head of Reference, only had a GED. If that doesn't scream "Political Hack Job," nothing does. Two of my colleagues from those days and I are now working at the local academic library. The public library gig was a real education, and I've been able to parlay my time there into better things. The funny thing is, nothing has changed at the public library in (at least) the last ten years, except that the director has proven to my satisfaction time and again that he doesn't know his ass from his elbow.

Anonymous said...

My gods yes, if a supervisor hasn't gone through the rigors of Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero to obtain the Lofty MLS (cue choir of angels) then they are just plain stupid.

a nonny-like moose said...

Gauge volunteer participation. I love this crew, because they're in the best position to stick it to someone if they get walked upon by them. Any collection under the right chemistry of staff will have a loyal set of willing free help.

Anonymous said...

Free help.

Just remember, you get what you pay for.

The volunteers that I have worked for should just stay home.

Anonymous said...

How I wish I could have seen this article last summer!

My experience was in a school library, and I was foolish enough to accept the position, but hopefully someone will learn from my misery:

1. Beware when you ask to see the library and they refuse to show you.

2. When I asked about the library's budget, they "did not know." Surprise! There was zero budget for books or supplies. I was told to focus on making the library an "exciting place for the students" and not worry about buying books or materials.

3. Interviewers bragged that the school had been extensively renovated the previous year, yet nothing had been done to the library. That should have been a major indication to run, run, run.

4. They asked about what technology I used in my lessons. When I asked in return what technology they had, they would not answer. Turns out, the best they had was an overhead projector and an opaque projector.

5. They "forgot" to mention that the library was not automated. Yes Virginia, there are still libraries that use card catalogs and date stampers (and I had to provide my own). Foolish me for not asking.

Luckily, I was able to escape with minimal damage to my professional reputation, but I am loath to go back to a school library.

ex-lib said...

What can also be bad is a situation where the board in a public library is the cause of serious problems. You talk about a dumping ground for political hacks.
They can do significant damage to a library system, and library careers, if they've got ego problems.

I think this is one reason you get
some wacky ideas. I know my first exposure was where a new board member had been appointed to the regional system and wanted to "play librarian". This individual apparently had been angling for work at a local bank in his county, with some way-out ideas of how they should run their business. Fortunately, the bank people have to answer to bank regulation and realized this fellow was a crank, and sent him on his way. However, he did have political connections, and managed to get himself appointed to the county library board within the regional system. His intent was to take the county out of the system and run things his way. He started coming up with complaints, and we tried to accommodate, but he'd then sandbag the effort to correct things, finally working up the local non-professional staffs in the branches who bought into his blather. Ultimately got the county to withdraw, even though they lost audio-visual and supplementary services to the school ststem, which we provided. The local teachers assn. passed a resolution "deploring" the action of the county board. It ended up lowering the academic rating of the county at least a notch, from a A to a B level, with the state. This fellow apparently packed his carpet bag and left the board later, after making a shambles of things. I heard years later that one woman in charge of a branch was deeply regretful that she'd bought into this and said so to my former boss later. The whole regional system fell apart likewise, due to political hacks appointed to boards, and one other person in particular. It might not be a bad idea to inquire about the board, but don't expect a straight answer if there are problems. Also, be aware that this situation could happen anywhere with a public library, even after years of having good boards. That was the case in the regional system I worked for.

The thing about the FBI getting patrons records I have to shake my head about. First of all, if someone is a terrorist chances are they will go online and BUY a copy of a book on explosives, if they don't have one already. There are no doubt web sites with this info. as well. Call it "War on Terror" hysteria, along with the duck-tape and plastic sheeting. It does give ALA another straw man to fight instead of doing more to improve the lot of librarians and libraries. I'm old enough to remember some of the hysteria in the Cold War that was equally as fantastic. If ALA, and library academe spent more time dealing with library ethics as it involved the treatment of librarians, by other librarians, we'd be a hell of a lot better off, and wouldn't be having this thread on interviews or bad jobs. Seriously, some day look at what else is in the statement about professional ethics. ALA has done about as pathetic a job as FEMA, et al., did in relief operations after Hurricane Katrina, on this score.

In other true "professons" they have certification and licensing.
What goes in in too many places would, in another line, be considered Medical or Legal malpractice and the parties subject to losing their credentials. With the library field it seems that, all to often, Gresham's Law [the bad drives away the good]is all too prevalent.

Anonymous said...

My experience was in a school library, and I was foolish enough to accept the position, but hopefully someone will learn from my misery. . .

Hopefully you learned from your misery.

The more unscrupulous libraries and businesses will scoop up recent wide-eyed grads and use them enough to further their own gains.

Take this from someone who was used by taking a bachelors degree in engineering and finding companies that were more than willing to hire me if I just looked the other way while they were thieving.

Life lesson learned, everyone cheats.

Fabulist said...

Frankly it doesn’t mater what they ask, they've already decided who to hire and it isn't you. You aren’t a volunteer or been a low paid customer service librarian in the system for years. Also you have a degree, which means they have to pay you more than a “less educated” retiree who is just happy to be out of the house. I have found these to be the actual reasons I was past over for a job.

Honestly I hate the negative questions. Here are some I’ve had in the past year. “What didn’t you like about your last job?” “Tell us of a time you disagreed with library policy and what you did about it.” “What would your current boss say is your greatest weakness?”

The less interaction I have with the libraries and librarians around me the happier I become. Sad considering this was the career I loved and pursued for the last 10 years.

JJ Schmidt said...

I guess we all should walk in and say "you can get everything you want at Alice's ...."

To see what they think...

Or you coukld ask them if their library was tree what kind of tree would it be.....

I admidt I got anoyed at an interview I was on where every group I met started with "what questions do you have for us"...Every group.... finally I snapped and asked them why. I had a few questions, I guess I should have brought a list of 26, but I usually like to form my questions from what I learn from their questions..... needless to say I didn't get the job....not that I would have accepted...

Anonymous said...

If you came into my library for an interview and started spouting off the "26 questions" I would start to be polite, but if you kept it up, my answer would be "there is the door, don't let it hit your ass on the way out."

Grow up people.

a nonny-like moose said...

The volunteers that I have worked for should just stay home.

Well, maybe it's time to work on that whole accreditation thing...

...or, if you meant "the volunteers that work for me," then by all means, express it to them directly instead of criticizing them here!

Weeds aren't necessarily the prettiest thing to look at, but it at least proves that the soil is sustainable. The same can be said of volunteer assistance. Regardless of the depth free help can provide, the environment proves to be of one with some confidence behind it. That they choose to come in and attempt to make things easier for paid staff means you're doing something right.

Bonus points if you see the old and young working together with smiles on both faces...

Anonymous said...


3. Interviewers bragged that the school had been extensively renovated the previous year, yet nothing had been done to the library. That should have been a major indication to run, run, run.


I remember a library that had stopped their renovation because of a lack of funding, so half of it was nice and neat and the other half bare concrete walls.

j- said...

*The thing about the FBI getting patrons records I have to shake my head about. First of all, if someone is a terrorist chances are they will go online and BUY a copy of a book on explosives,*

Yeah, probably. Then again, the dumb fucks who bombed the WTC actually went back to get the deposit back on their rental truck, so, uh, not always geniuses we're dealing with.

*if they don't have one already. There are no doubt web sites with this info. as well.*

Yep. And public terminals at libraries MIGHT be where they would look this stuff up. Most likely they wouldn't, but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if that happened at my library, people died as a result, and I stonewalled the Feds during some investigation.

*Call it "War on Terror" hysteria, along with the duck-tape and plastic sheeting*

I'd rather have plastic sheeting than NOTHING, of course. I'd also rather duck and cover under a desk in case a large piece of ceiling fell on me after an thermonuclear attack.

Then again, we're dealing with the very same people running libraries now who look back on that advice from their school days and laugh, as if the fireball was going to be centered right above their school and they would have been vaporized instantly. Unless they made habits of building schools on top of air bases and missile silos, I doubt it.

j- said...

*And, by the way, fascism is such a catch-all word these days. It's like calling someone a jerk or a commie. It's just plain meaningless, unless you're TRULY a fascist. Being liberal does not necessarily equate with fascist.*

One of the words which has very little meaning left, I agree, but that's no reason to stop using it. Usually the people who call others fascists are more fascistic themselves and that was my point.

How about calling modern day American liberals "totalitarians" then? Will that do? They're more likely to want to tell you how to live your life than the folks on the other side, from the cradle to the grave. They claim to want you to be open-minded and peddle such twaddle as "dissent is the highest form of patriotism", but if you deviate from the leftist orthodoxy, basically you are branded a witch. What a joke. They claim to be all about choice, but if any of your choices are, oh, to be a Christian, eat meat, live in the suburbs, drive the wrong car, educate your children in ways you see fit or smoke a cigarette you are viewed as no better than a leper.

And their attempts to control the future by destroying the facts of the past make Orwell seem eerily prescient. Stalin would be proud.

ex-lib said...

Coming to a library system near you; for those who are not motivated by "Dance Dance Party"? This is real.....
--------------------------
A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Utah allegedly used waterboarding on a member of his sales team to motivate staff, according to a lawsuit filed by an employee, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Chad Hudgens, a former salesman for Prosper, Inc., in Provo, Utah, alleges his manager, Joshua Christopherson, asked him to lie on a hill before he poured water from a gallon jug into Hudgens' mouth and nostrils as other sales staff held him down, the paper reports.

"At the conclusion of his abusive demonstration, Christopherson told the team that he wanted them to work as hard on making sales as Chad had worked to breathe while he was being waterboarded," the paper said the suit alleges. The lawsuit was filed in January.

Company President Dave Ellis told the Salt Lake Tribune that the allegations were "sensationalized" and uncorroborated by co-workers regarding the May incident.

"They just roll their eyes and say, 'This is ridiculous. ... That's not how it went down,'" Ellis told the paper.

Hudgens' suit claims the manager "intentionally engaged in physically and emotionally abusive conduct" to punish workers who did not meet company performance goals, the paper said.

BiblioGoddess said...

".....I do remember one place where they insisted on looking at my transcripts. Not that unusual except the committee chairman started hawking about how my degree said "Master of Science" and not "Master of Library Science." " --Anonymous, 2:50

Having just ended a job search (which ended up in me going back to my pre-librarian profession), I found it very telling that the places that required transcripts (and in some cases, official transcripts and not just photocopies), curriculum vita, letters of reference, etc., were the places where most people would be less likely to want to work (e.g., an underfunded community college branch library where one person basically did everything from teaching undergrads to mopping the floors). Meanwhile, the libraries more likely to need to weed out applicants by making the process more onerous (e.g., research university with great bennies and a national reputation) just had the standard requirements.

Yachira said...

Find out about the community you'll be working in. Conservative Republican, Homophobic = no WDL"

Indeed!

Liberal Democratic, whiny, self-absorbed and self-loathing = no Yachira

j- said...

*Blogger ex-lib said...

Coming to a library system near you; for those who are not motivated by "Dance Dance Party"? This is real.....
--------------------------
A supervisor at a motivational coaching business in Utah allegedly used waterboarding on a member of his sales team to motivate staff,*

And the dude is not dead. Seems waterboarding isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Ironically, just underneath you is a picture of someone else who survived waterboarding and actually coughed up some good data.

Sissies.

Anonymous said...

The AL gets more astute comments from her timely and relevant topics than LJ, American Libraries, etc. could wish in their wildest dreams and from responders with various points of view that reflect stimulating and thought-provoking points. This thread about jobs, interview questions, administrator antics and so forth is information that has deserved serious articles in our "professional" journals for literally years, yet ALA has steadfastedly refused to address these topics. After 30 years in libraries, it is clear to me that council considers negative pronouncements about Kenyan and other countries' activities, "banned" books that are still published, sold and read in this country, "limited" ALA Council agenda items, and other issues much more important than the actual librarians and the libraries. When questioned, the rank and file ALA members are reminded that the organization is callled the American Library Association, not the American Librarian Association. If ALA's focus had been on the professional individuals and the traditional library mission as dedicated to a cultural, intellectual, educated populace for a democratic society, interviewees, interviewers and board members would have solid foundations for discussions. As it is now, individual whims and the "next-best-thing" are regarded as suitable replacements. When ALA cannot figure out "what is a library issue" the profession as such is truly out of touch.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ex-lib said...

" When questioned, the rank and file ALA members are reminded that the organization is callled the American Library Association, not the American Librarian Association. If ALA's focus had been on the professional individuals and the traditional library mission as dedicated to a cultural, intellectual, educated populace for a democratic society, interviewees, interviewers and board members would have solid foundations for discussions. As it is now, individual whims and the "next-best-thing" are regarded as suitable replacements. When ALA cannot figure out "what is a library issue" the profession as such is truly out of touch."

RIGHT ON POINT! Compare librarianship to, say, law or medicine or teaching. Why donesn't library education have something more about professional hiring practices? What about workshops or publications to promote better selection of board members in public libraries? What about possibly rating library services in the various states, as they do with schools and education? As it is now you have a kind of anarchy
of purpose permeating the field. Toss into the mix a kind of Kafkaesque way of dealing with matters. Pseudo-professionalism? Don't tell the emperor he has no clothes?

I found it interesting, a few years back, to visit a place where I'd lived for around 9 years. Border's Books was giving the public library more than a run for its clientele. I had to shake my head and smile. It didn't suprise me. The intellectual dry rot is there. Just how far it will go remains to be seen. There was a wierd sort of joke someone made once about the reason a library system had to reduce staff was the result of the fire dept. having to get X # of hydrants to put in the new subdivision. Is the field becoming a proverbial fools paradise?

Anonymous said...

What exactly would it take to create an "American Librarian Association" to address concerns of actual librarians (hiring practices, pay raises, and so forth) on a state, regional, and national level?

I find it odd that no one has asked this before--or am I wrong?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

There will be an American Librarian Association when men start entering this field for real and start looking at this as a real profession. Until then, libraries are a quaint place for wives to work before kids, after kids go to college, and for the feeble minded who like to go to conferences and swill martinis.

AL said...

The feeble minded don't know that one doesn't "swill" martinis.

TJPaladin said...

Red Flags at one interview I went on.


I was brought into a room with a large conference table with not less than 12 people around it.

The Library Director, a couple of department heads, and a several other college faculty members.

They had the interview questions "taped down" on the table at the place where I was directed to sit down.

They went through their entire drill of questions, trading off questions between them.

When they had finally finished their interrogation they directed me to go to the presentation room where I would make a presentation that I had prepared.

But, before I agreed to leave I asked two questions.

I asked "May I please ask some questions to the members of this selection committee ?"

They very reluctantly agreed to let me ask my handful of questions.

They I asked my second important question.

"May I please have an opportunity to speak with the Library director (who was present) alone ?"

This request was refused.

So I proceeded to ask him and his staff directly about Leadership styles and staff morale.

After they sweated and fidigtted for awhile trying to answer my questions .... then I agreed to make my presentation.

I called the next morning to withdraw my application.

Anonymous said...

Anomymous 10:28, that is the most penetrating display of self-analysis I think I've read on this blog. You sure do have a keen self-awareness. God, how can you stand even reading library blogs?

Ah, wait one second; something's not right here: tell me, why are you reading a library blog? are you one of those men in housewife drag?

Minks said...

Blogger soren faust said...

"I think my interviewers really felt my qualifications as I exuded many of them by sheer presence, such as the fact that I was a wizard at MS Excel, had taken two classes in HR and could graph a shift in a supply side scenario."

Smartalec,,, taking that WAY out of context. >=/ You are one of those people that constantly sucks my time away so I can help you with things you should already know (MS EXcel for example), or clean up HR nightmares you create. There is a very good reason behind all of the prerequisites I listed, you are just incapable of figuring them out.

Sam said...

1. Emailed about scheduling a phone interview for a particular date (say Friday the 26th). It was the same date I had an all day campus interview. I said I was unavailable that particular date but offered several alternative dates. They decline my offer to do the phone interview on another day. Two months later the position was reposted. I guess it is hard to find qualified applicants when you are so inflexible with your scheduling.
2. Director insisted on doing his own interview (one on one)after the search committee interview complete with long list intense questions. Made it obvious that this was his pet project and I would report directly to him. Started a sentence with "let me be blunt". All of which made me think he was a micro manager.
3. Had breakfast with a Director and a Supervisor. Director asked me interview questions at 7 AM while I had a mouth full of food. The rest of the time the Director talked about herself. Director and Supervisor had no verbal interaction. Lead me to believe the Director was an ego maniac. Her picture in full color in various fake caught working poses in every single library newsletter confirmed my suspicions.
4. Did a phone interview with a public library director, said would have HR contact me to schedule a site interview, never heard from them again.
5. Received a rejection email with grammatical errors.
6. FOUR REFERENCE LETTERS required with initial application.
7. Never sent the itinerary for the campus interview or told me who would pick me up at the airport.
8. Hinted at my race/minority status during the interview by asking two people to speak about their committee work which conveniently happened to be the Diversity committee. She meant well but they were obviously uncomfortable at her not so subtle maneuvering.

soren faust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Please, please, please ask about a collection development policy. Don't wait until you've got the job, only to find that they don't, and it doesn't matter anyway because you're not allowed to buy anything.

Also, go with your gut feeling about the interviewers. If one or more seemed like a dud, you can bet that the rest of the department is similar.

Minks said...

Minks,

You're right. I'm your job security. I expect a thank you for this.

:)

Thank you!

Job security FTW! =P

Anonymous said...

Ah, wait one second; something's not right here: tell me, why are you reading a library blog? are you one of those men in housewife drag?

Yes I am a man in housewife drag (add your own cheesy Monty Python housewife voice here).

I love dressing in drag.

Especially after 4 or 5 martinis.

And after the fifth, man you can definitely start swilling them.

Crumbly said...

"Anyone who would ask all 26 questions shouldn't be interviewing. "

I once had 26 people on an interviewing panel plus the Librarian (Director). Small English library before one of the reorganisations and it was their entire council on the panel! Didn't want the job after all but I wanted the travel expenses which were payable only on acceptance if the job was offered.

Slunk in the chair, monosyllabic answers etc and the job, fortunately, wasn't mine.

Anonymous said...

once had 26 people on an interviewing panel plus the Librarian (Director).

Tag team interviewing is a sign that you are not in serious consideration for a job.

The only times I have had tag team interviews was when the staff had nothing better to do and it looked good that they were out doing committee type work.

The only way an interview will make or break your job prospects is if you bring a dead puppy to the interview.

Anonymous said...

How's this for red flags? It was my first job out of library school.
On the phone interview, the interviewer (later my boss) told me what the salary was (it was very low) and asked me if it was OK. Twice. Next, I see the stacks at the real interview and it scares the crap out of me. They are moldering and decrepit, more like mummy's bandages than actual books. After I get there, I learn I was the only candidate for the job.
On the plus side, this place is well known among librarians in this city as a low-paying, bad place to work. No one asks why I left.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate everyone's comments, but what if you're a temp that's applying for a perm job, and the person that had the job prior to you, is now deceased... The same one that YOU were hired to get "back on track". What kind of questions do you ask?

Anonymous said...

Well in my interview with the Director she asked me how many times I had been married! That is illegal but in hindsight it was a red flag for HR issues - of which there were and are many

Frances Mac said...

I went for an interview today for the post of Saturday Relief Librarian (in Devon, England). What a waste of time. Has anyone ever heard of nepotism? Well, it is alive and kicking here in Devon for the Library service. The interview went fairly well, despite one or two oddball questions (i.e. what would you say to someone who came into the library but didn't know what they were looking for?) - Er yes, this was a serious question!
Despite having a wide range of experience in full-time work over 25 years, I was rejected on grounds of 'lack of experience.' I can only imagine the job was reserved for the relative/friend/neighbour etc of the staff.
Oh yes siree! nepotism is allive and kicking here. To get a phone call only 5 hours after the interview to say: 'Sorry but you just were up against too much competition.' Wow. I hope these new Relief Librarians will be in parliament running the country soon.