Saturday, October 08, 2005

Phone is ringing, oh my god

Now, I don't want to jinx anything, but I've got a telephone interview on Tuesday. Luckily, it's not my first telephone interview (okay, it's my second), so at least I can focus on the message and not the medium. Nevertheless, I asked around and I got some good advice on the phone aspect of phone interviews (from a prof who does phone interviews all the time for her research):

  • Keep your voice low. With the loss of visual cues, tone of voice has a huge impact on how you are perceived. High pitched and squealy isn't going to do you any favors. A low and even tone of voice (I don't mean monotone) over the phone is the equivalent of cleaning under your fingernails for the in-person meeting: it just makes a good impression.
  • Write down the names of everyone on the panel, and when you answer questions, respond to whomever asked the question by using their name. This can help you connect with your interviewers as individuals, something that is challenging to do telephonically with someone you've never met before.
  • Make them laugh. It can be really hard for folks on the other end to get a sense of your personality over the phone and whether you're somebody they'd like to work with. My prof actually suggested that I come up with a personal story that is slightly embarrasing to put everyone at ease and make me seem more like a real person and less like a disembodied voice.

I've done all my standard interview prep stuff: contacted the references to let them know they might expect a call, looked at every single page of the library's website, checked out the census statistics for the region, looked at statistics from the state library website, tried to imagine myself in the job, thought of some specific examples of my qualifications as related to the job description, gone over the key points that I want to be sure to mention regarless of what questions they ask, and spent some time pondering life, the universe, and libraries and why I got into this librarian gig in the first place.

Where I'm stuck is trying to figure out which questions to ask to determine whether this is someplace I want to work. If I'm going to move a few thousand miles, I want to make sure it's a good fit. Here's what I've got so far:

  1. What do you do to support professional development among staff?
  2. How does your library promote adaptability and flexibility among staff?
  3. What is the greatest challenge facing your library in the next five years?

I hope these questions get at some of the things that are really important for me. I'd like to work somewhere that is forward-thinking, somewhere that plans for the future in a strategic way (question 3). I'd like to work in a library that acknowledges the value of staff as a key resource and backs that up with some tangible action, a place that promotes professional values and growth among all staff (question 1). And I'd like to avoid a pervasive navel-gazing "we've always done it this way" attitude and work somewhere that actively prepares for ongoing change (question 2).

And even though I could, I don't think I'll wear my pyjamas to the interview.


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