Friday, June 12, 2009

Job Interview Bootcamp: Answering Interview Questions

Good, basic advice. He tells you in two minutes what to do, and then you spend the next two hours prepping.

By the way, I'm not kidding about the two hours of prep time. That should be your minimum amount put into preparing for interviews in general. Then do a refresher with a partner the night before, maybe thirty minutes, to make sure you worked out all of your kinks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tell me about your experience in libraries...Ms. I've-not-worked-in-a-library-yet

Gah! Imagine getting this one when you haven't worked in a library yet. Yes, not everyone in library school has worked in a library--not all of us know the glory of the shelving, the shelf-reading and the weeding.

Anyway, you should prepare for something like this, or others like it, like tell us how your previous experience relates to this position, by reading through the job description and deciding what you have done in the past that matches with the current job. It also helps if the job description in front of you also has percentages of work, like spend 50% teaching, so you know what your answer should focus on.

Obviously, anything that you have done, either paid or volunteer, that matches with the job description should come out in your answer. You can use more than one previous job experience to describe what you can bring to this current position and how you would apply your skills.

You can also, very carefully, use any of the relevant class projects that you have worked on that relates to the job at hand. I say to do this carefully because they are probably interviewing some of your other classmates and it might start to seem like you are interchangeable if you are all describing the same experiences and assignments. Use the stuff on your resume that is relevant but unique to you as a candidate.

Brought to you from David Grant's list of 50 Most Common Interview Questions

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tell me about the most fun you have had on a job

What a freebie! Take this one and run with it. Use a project that you had which you did well on--maybe it's featured on a website so they can look at it if they are interested--which you delivered on time and which you have received praise for.

By happy coincidence, this is usually when you have the most fun at work: doing something that you liked that people are impressed with. It also helps if you can prep one of your references to talk about the same project when they get called.

And it does happen, but don't talk about how you and your co-workers took the afternoon off and had a really great bonding experience that included alcohol or errant frisbees. I would forgive you for the alcohol, no freebie on the frisbees, but you have just talked about how much fun it was to not do work together.

Brought to you from David Grant's list of 50 Most Common Interview Questions

Monday, June 8, 2009

What irritates you about co-workers?

That I have any.

That would be a very wrong answer, so don't obey that instinct. Don't be flippant if they ask what irritates you about patrons, since that one, or some variation may also be coming up in your interview.

Your answer could end up revealing personal flaws. You reveal that you are uptight about some minor character flaw or laziness which makes you seem like a nit picker. You could also try to dodge with, oh, I love everybody, hearts and flowers, want to exchange bracelets? But you're going to get that little tsk, which means, we're on to you. And you did reveal a flaw: you avoid conflict and just swallow your frustrations instead of resolving them.

You could say something like this:

I've been very lucky to have worked with supportive and helpful professionals, but there are always minor irritants. For example, a former co-worker would often change deadlines, moving up the dates for projects, sometimes without apparent reason. These decisions made it difficult to deliver on time and to provide my best work. However, I usually found that if I discussed it with her that I would usually find out a legitimate reason for the hastened delivery and that we could work out some time around another project.

And look at that: you identified a problem, dealt with it like an adult and sounded reasonable.

If you tend to brush off annoyances, or don't keep a grudge book, you could read Maureen Roger's post, Throwing at the Batter, to find a brief list of aggravations that colleagues can throw at us. Don't just pick one and make up some creative speech. More than likely you have encountered these behaviors, even from normally rational people. Explain it, name no names, describe how you dealt with it and ask for the next pitch from the interviewer.

Brought to you from David Grant's list of 50 Most Common Interview Questions