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The Job Hunt, Part 2

November 3, 2010

I always wanted this to move from being a school blog to being a career blog as time went on but of course I had other interests and, frankly, it was difficult to write about school while I was there.  I always felt like someone was looking over my shoulder.  In fact, there was that one time back at Stockton that I was asked (politely) to modify what I had written.  Recently, I took the name and URL of this blog off my resume.  Despite my not-terrible hit count, and the occasional regular reader, the cons of leading potential employers to my curse-laden and rant-filled vanity recaps, or my spoilerphobic and therefore watery book reviews, completely outweigh any semi-impressive numbers I could lay down.

So now I’m interviewing here and there for librarian and library positions, and I think, “Isn’t it the same thing?  You’ll always feel like someone’s reading over your shoulder.”  Okay, perhaps.  And it’s true I have no real anonymity here.  I use my first name, which is not that common (although I see it a lot more now, so I wonder if the generation after mine saw a rise in usage), and I’ve stated specifically which schools I’ve gone to.  It wouldn’t, at this point, be possible to go back and remove all instances of my name without a kind of effort I’m just not willing to put in.

But I do know there are things I can talk about right now.  I checked back on my Future Librarian posts and was surprised to see that I either didn’t make a post or didn’t categorize a post after I did my first two interviews.  Since I know I didn’t get those jobs, I feel fine about talking about them–not bad-mouthing them or anything like that, but an honest look at what it was like to interview for a library job, that sort of thing.  For my other future librarians out there.

I actually did the interviews back-to-back, one in-town for a school library aide, and the other for a public library in central Jersey.  The interviews could not have been more different.  In the first, I was met by the principal and someone involved with technology, which I found strange because I know for a fact that the librarians in the system are barely allowed to be involved with school-related technology such as maintaining their own websites.  I was expecting the librarian I was interviewing to work under.

Perhaps because of this, I found the questions I was asked vague and confusing.  One was like “What should we be looking for in candidates for this position?”  Since there was a question already about my qualifications, I found it strange.  Later, it seemed to me like the questions were pulled from some sort of online list of general questions to ask someone when you interview them (for any position).  But at the time, I was completely freaking out.  I had no real experience to draw on, so I thought “Maybe this is it.  Maybe this is how it always is and you’re always going to fail at it.”  One thing I pride myself on is honesty.  Honesty will always lead me to answer a question, “I’ve never experienced that before.”  I felt the vagueness of the questions I was asked in this interview made the answer awkwardly end there.

Dejected over the interview (but still hoping they’d be impressed enough with my qualifications to hire me), my then-fiance/now-husband and I made the two-hour trip to central Jersey for my next interview.  Fellow Future Librarians, be advised: if you went to school for public librarianship, and you interview at a public library, IT WILL BE OKAY.  They do this all the time.  They know what to ask.  What followed when I got into the room was a grueling round-robin of questions that lasted over an hour.  EVERY QUESTION WAS RELEVANT TO WHAT I HAD LEARNED IN GRAD SCHOOL.  Issues of policy, privacy, conflict…it was all there.  It was WONDERFUL.  I barely had a voice at the end of it, but everything fell into place.

I had such a good time.

I had a good time with an interview today too.  It was a good interview.  I was proud of my answers.  The questions were entirely similar to the ones I’d been asked before, but since I’d already been through it once, I was more comfortable with my responses.  They didn’t ask me to act out Story Time, which DID happen at my first interview, which was probably the part where I was the weakest.  It’s been so many years since I’ve seen anyone read aloud for a crowd.  I mean, I’ve read for children since then, for Girl Scouts and when I volunteered at my daughter’s school library, but I didn’t have any THEORY behind it like I did for the questions.  I didn’t have someone to mimic.  I should really remedy that, especially if I get this job.

Will I get the job?  Do I have a great feeling about it?  I don’t know.  I feel I did well, and that I had a good rapport with the women who interviewed me.  This third interview was the easiest so far.  I, um, remembered to cover my tattoos this time too, which was such a ridiculous mistake the first go-’round.  But I don’t think that a good interview is the key to getting any job in this economy.  I’m sure that I’m one of many out there right now, looking for a job in a profession that’s seen budget slashes all over the board.  And yes, that’s pretty scary, not just for me but for them too.

Fellow Future Librarians, I don’t want to get you down, but we all know the harsh reality here.  The thing is: what you’re learning right now?  That information is worthwhile.  It’s going to give you a sense that even if you’ve never been behind the big desk before, you have the right to be there.

Chin up, friends.  That godawful class that’s making your pound your head against the wall is going to come in handy during your interviews, whether it’s management or cataloging or even that class on building web pages.  Every skill learned and information synthesized brings something to the table.

Just try not to interview for the same positions as me, okay?  I can only love you all so much.


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