Friday, July 4, 2008

Open mouth, insert foot

When I was initially looking for my first library job, my best friend helped me prep for interviews. She was the Interviewer and I was the Victim, sometimes Idiot with flashes of Savant. We worked our way through 101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions, and I would answer and she would tell me I was wrong.

Anyway, after about 20 minutes of this--possibly less, since she thinks I have the attention span of a gnat--I would get BORED. As in, I would take the questions in a new direction that she didn't expect. Like I would answer questions about supervisory skills by describing my God complex, or whine in response to questions about professional development with, oh, do I have to?? or how I thought the best customer service was delivered with a fire hose--and yakked appreciatively about fire men and calendars. You know, stuff like that.

Not the right answer, obviously, but I just couldn't take the ridiculous, fatuousness of the whole interview procedure anymore. Especially because it felt like I was failing.

I do not suggest that you talk about fire men or hoses in any sort of appreciative or deprecating tone during your interview. Especially if this is for a public library job. They might be in your union or your library late fees bought their fire truck. But the joke interview worked, because I was no longer tempted to say the outrageous. (Remember attention span mentioned above?) After we stopped laughing and got down to business, I started to pay more attention to the questions since my brain had had a break.

So, if you are in the endless round of interviews and need a break, please expand on the following in your own style:
  1. What method do you use to set and attain your goals? I have one? Like a goal, I mean? Hire me. Goal realized.
  2. As a librarian, do you think of yourself as more geek less nerd, or vice versa? And because this is actually a "fit" question, everybody on the panel will think that they are your vice versa, unless the boss tells them differently.
  3. Our opinion on challenged books is turf 'em, who needs the hassle? Tell us how we could still post the Library Bill of Rights with a straight face. Talk about a problem solving question. Think they asked something similar at the ENRON interview?
  4. Tell us the name of the last book you read. And this time, tell the truth. It wasn't Thousand Splendid Suns, or anything with a reader's guide. It was Incubus Dreams or some book with a butt cover, and you read for fluids.
  5. Librarian: neither liberal nor rare. Discuss.

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