Friday, September 5, 2008

Complete an inventory to prep for an interview

I have slowly been adding interview questions that might appear in a library interview, but you could take a personal inventory to prep for an interview (and not wait for my sluggish self to post 1001 questions). How do you take an inventory? Anita Bruzzese posted an inventory, 20 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself if You Want to Smarten Up About Your Career, which, if you look carefully at them, can easily be rewritten as interview questions. For example, no.5, Who is the most difficult person for me to get along with at work? can be transformed into How do you deal with difficult patrons/co-workers? or Who is the worst boss you ever had, and why?. Using the questions in her inventory, you could easily prepare a sheet that will help you with most interview questions that are meant to assess "fit", collegiality or career plans.

The best part about an inventory like this is that your notes should help you prepare for several types of interview questions and that you can do it yourself, again and again, prior to a new job search cycle with a round of interviews. The questions on this inventory are so open that you could take them in any direction, and your answers will probably change the next time you do them--and with more self-knowledge as you grow as a professional.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

September might not be a bad time to look for a job

Is there a good time to look for a job?

Now, Job Bait is looking for "executive" jobs, classed by salary, but their analysis of monthly hiring trends (from 2004-2006 data) does show that there are certain months were more upper-level jobs are posted. It also means that Fall is still a good time to look for a job. This data may also be helpful if you are looking for special library job, so you have to follow the hiring cycle of that industry, not the "academic" hiring cycle (i.e. if you want to work for an engineering firm, they will post according to their hiring cycle, which is right now.)

First spotted on Career Hub.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'm new here

How do you become accustomed to a new workplace? What are the steps you take to become familiar with the work environment?

An interviewer will ask this question for two reasons:
  1. Time is short to get you up to speed, such as a contract position or a summer job, and he wants to make sure that you can organize your time effectively to get accustomed to the new environment, and complete the project you have been hired for, and
  2. Because he wants to know about your work habits, how you learn new things, and where getting to know your co-workers will fit on your list of priorities.

Obviously, responding to this question effectively requires a bit of self-awareness, and the ability to recognize, not only your habits, but also the knowledge that you already possess that you could apply to the new workplace. They will also like to hire someone who not only gives a self-aware answer, but someone who learns in a similar style to the other people in the workplace. Since you can't know what learning style is preferred--unless you have already worked there--you can only answer this question by stating what you have done in the past, how you will apply it on the first day on the job, and how you will look for direction from your new supervisor and coworkers.

What kind of manager do you have?: Jung or Nardelli?

Cut Costs like Avon--Not Home Depot is from the Harvard Business Publishing blog. The post describes the difference between the admired CEO of Avon, Andrea Jung, and the non-so-esteemed former-CEO of Home Depot, (though he has moved on to Chrysler) Bob Nardelli. And in a time of cutbacks--though not a reduced need for library services--it might be a good idea to find out who you are working for: Nardelli or Jung?

Oddly, these companies do have something in common with libraries: they have similar customer base (women), they depend on knowledge networks to spread the word, and their customers use their products to improve their lives. But look at what happened when Nardelli cut back:
"The original Home Depot strategy depended on extremely knowledgeable service staff who would go that extra mile for customers and who could really help them understand how to accomplish their own goals. In the name of efficiency, Nardelli cut coverage, replaced quite a number of the experienced old-timers with part-timers, and put the whole organization on a tight, numbers-driven, almost military program. Again, many of his changes were for the better - yet the cultural, network, and experience losses eventually caught up with the company and Nardelli was replaced."
Libraries, like Home Depot, depend on their community connections (we call them "patrons" not "contractors") and undermining the core service, such as reducing the number of workers that have "know-how" is just bad for business.

So who do you work for? Nardelli or Jung?