Castle Librarian

Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

Dear Prospective Employer

In Librarianship, Musing on February 8, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Dear Prospective Employer:

When conducting a video conference job interview, please practice ahead of time, especially if you have never done it before. If there are several interviewers, please choose a room and camera placement where all can be seen by the interviewee. Please check the display on the screen to see how you appear, not just how the interviewee appears. Also, remember to ask if the interviewee has any questions. You are also being interviewed and you represent your institution.


As you might deduce, I am job hunting. I’ve been on both sides of the hiring process. I have written resumés, CVs, and cover letters. I’ve received and read resumés, CVs, and cover letters. I’ve participated in job interviews on both sides of the table. One good thing about all this experience is that I have become fairly cool and collected during the interview. I am prepared. I come up with answers to the typical questions. I list questions that I have, as well, because I am interviewing the prospective employer while they are interviewing me.

I’ve learned from good and bad situations. I was once on a hiring committee and heard the applicant tell us everything we wanted to hear. When this person actually came to work, we discovered a whole different person. The results were disastrous for everyone, even the applicant. What I learned from this is how important it is for me to be honest with myself and aware of my genuine strengths and weaknesses, and to present myself accurately. If I am not what they are looking for, it is stupid to pretend to be, out of desperation for a job. Neither side will be happy in the end.

I’ve learned to apply for jobs based on “do I want to do it” not “can I do it.” There are lots of jobs I could perform quite well, but would not enjoy or find fulfilling. When I am reading job descriptions and come across a duty or phrase that makes me cringe, I move on. That one is not for me.

I’ve learned to watch for non-verbal clues from interviewers to help deduce if the work environment will be pleasant or stressful. If I’m being interviewed by a group of people who are potential co-workers, I ask them straight out what the work environment is like. If they are uncomfortable or have difficulty answering that question, I know not all is well.

I am also watching for signs of professionalism or lack thereof. Poor communication before an interview, poor communication during an interview, and poor communication after an interview are all interest killers. I will be clear in my communications. I will be on time. I will tell you the truth. I will follow up after an interview with a thank you note. Please be clear in your communications. Please be on time. Please notify me of your decision in a timely manner, even if it is “no.” There’s nothing quite like an interview followed by complete silence.

Probably the worst thing I can hear during the hiring process is the “ability to deal with change” or like phrases. This is a red flag, because I have worked in institutions that stressed this in the hiring process and even after. In my experience, it means dealing with the consequences of administrations that are blown about on any wind that comes along resulting in an unstable institution. The onus is pushed off onto the employees at the lower rungs of the hierarchy. They just aren’t being team players if they don’t quietly accept constantly changing directives. I’d rather not work there. I’m all for change and progress when it is managed sensibly.

When reading job advertisements that are very specific, I often wonder if they were written with the previous employee in mind. Did those writing the ad start by saying “we don’t want a person like THAT again!”

There you have it. My thoughts on job hunting, for what it is worth.