Friday, January 27, 2006

Assistant Director telephone interview

This time it's a public library in a small town about an hour away from a major city. No panel, just me and the director chatting for ninety minutes or so. In spite of everything they say about getting dressed up for phone interviews, I wore my pyjamas.

I was asked to prepare something for the interview:
Please bring one idea for a program aimed at an adult audience and an outline of what your plan would be for such a program, including everything from conception through marketing through execution. This only needs to be an informal project; notes and/or a bulleted list of your organized thoughts would suffice.

First off, she acknowledged that interviews are a two way process and encouraged me to ask questions at any point. Then came the questions:
  • Describe your favorite place that you have worked.

  • Why do you think libraries conduct adult programming? (This is also where I was asked to present my program ideas.)

  • A patron who is using the computer comes up to you and says the printer isn't printing. Describe the steps you would take to respond.

  • Talk about your philosophy regarding collection development and name three sources that you rely on for collection development.

  • Tell me about your experience with community outreach and working with community groups.

  • Why are you the best candidate for the position?

  • In terms of your qualifications, what are you most confident about and what are you least confident about? (I like this so much better than the "what are your weaknesses?" question.)

  • Describe your management style.

  • Describe a typical day at your current job and what you think a typical day would be like in this position.

  • What attracted you to this position?

  • What have you found out about this library that surprised you?

  • How do you enter into relationships with co-workers when you are new to a job?

  • Is there anything else that you would like me to know?

I must say, along with the questions I was asked in the teen librarian interview a while ago, these are the best interview questions I've run across. I found myself being really honest.

I was still pretty exhausted after all the excitement at Midwinter and didn't really have a chance to prepare. I've spent enough time preparing for interviews that I wasn't overly concerned, but I'm starting to think that for the right job, you shouldn't have to prepare too much. If it's a good fit, the questions should tap into things that you're thinking about all the time anyhow.

For the adult program bit, I emailed someone I know at a library that does great programs and asked her for ideas. She sent me a couple of events calendars, and I picked something that looked good. Then I spent five minutes drafting an outline of the steps involved: planning, promotion, evaluation, etc. Five minutes was really all the time I could spare. In that sense, I suppose this was a very realistic exercise.

p.s. In class yesterday, one of my profs referred to librarians as information alchemists.


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