Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ms Library Director?

Another small town library manager/director interview. One of the challenges of this type of interview is that you're talking to a lay audience. You have to constantly remind yourself to phrase everything in terms the general public could understand. The panel included four board members and one staff member. The interview lasted almost two hours, and by the end I was starting to get a little raspy. I'm sure there are some questions I've forgotten. They didn't provide me with a list of the questions to refer to, and this was the first time that I've been tape recorded during an interview.
  • What have you found out about our library since you applied for the position?
  • What is your experience working with library boards?
  • How would you respond to a patron that is very angry and complaining about library services?
  • Describe your ideal library.
  • If you're not able to resolve the complaint, what would you do next?
  • What is your experience with bookkeeping and library budgets in particular?
  • Describe your experience with library programming.
  • Talk about your experience with computers and technology.
  • Describe your experience working with volunteers and friends of the library groups.
  • How will you balance the competing demands on your time?
  • Describe your experience working with community organizations such as the Lions Club or Kiwanis Club.
  • What is your knowledge of the state laws concerning libraries?
  • Describe your involvement in professional organizations.
  • Describe your communication style.
  • Do you have experience with grant writing?
  • Describe your experience with fundraising and discuss one success that you are particularly proud of.

When it was my turn to ask questions, I followed up with some old standbys: What is the greatest challenge facing your library in the near future? What is the library's greatest strength? What is your hiring timeline?

The questions were very broad, which gave me the opportunity to cover a lot of ground in my answers. With vague questions, I found it helpful to ask clarifying questions to identify what it is they're getting at (with the communication style question, I asked if they meant communication with the board, with staff, or with the public). If you can't get the panel to narrow it down, try to break the question down and give yourself a framework for answering (for the ideal library question, I pointed out that you could think of a library in terms of the physical space, the collection, the working environment, etc, and addressed each of those in turn).

I'm always curious how people respond to my age in interviews for management positions. I talked up my tech skills and emphasized community outreach, especially to youth, aspects of the job where my relatively young age will hopefully be viewed as a strength.

1 Comments:

At 10:57 AM, Blogger laura said...

Thanks for all the great posts of interview questions. I had a phone interview awhile ago myself and have been meaning to write about it--it's fascinating to get a look into other people's interview experiences.

Good luck!

 

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