Further Questions: Turning the Tables

This week I wanted to turn the tables a bit.  I asked people who hire librarians:
We all know that candidates have loads of questions for people who hire.  But do you have the same kinds of questions for candidates?  Do you wonder what they’re thinking about your job announcements, for example, or are you uncertain about the clothes you should wear to interview someone?  What questions would you ask of job hunters?
I’m sure that asking applicants (and ideally also people who decided NOT to apply!) what they thought of the job vacancy advertisement would yield some very interesting insights.  What sorts of things put people off?  I’m sure some would be obvious things like the salary level or location, but what about the type of organisation? What preconceptions do job hunters have about particular organisations? How about the job title, or something in the description of the duties?  How about where the advert was placed – does it make a difference whether they saw a print advert or an online one, or one on the organisation’s own website (which included a fuller job description) compared to one on a job board?
Asking about the impressions applicants got of the organisation and its culture, as well as their perceptions of the people they met, would also be interesting.  As a recruitment agent I’ve asked many candidates for feedback on employers they’ve just met, and sometimes they do get put off by the way they’ve been interviewed, the answers they received to questions they’ve asked, the appearance of the building (or part of the building) where they were interviewed, or by the commute to reach it.
Sometimes employers ‘sex up’ their job advert (or the verbal description they give to recruitment agents) in the hope of attracting more, or better quality, applicants, but this can backfire when they arrive for interview and find out the job is more mundane than expected – I’ve had several candidates get to 2nd or 3rd interview stage with clients and then pull out of the process, or reject offers, because of this.
– Nicola Franklin, Director, The Library Career Centre Ltd.
I always ask as one of the last questions at the end of an interview – no matter what position I am trying to fill – “If you were interviewing me for this position, what question would you ask?”

The responses are always enlightening, sometimes humorous, sometimes thought-provoking, and sometimes hit below the belt…

A children’s librarian candidate (who was hired): “Do you really like children or are you just looking for a job?”

A general librarian candidate (who obviously wasn’t hired): “Do you think you could live and find something to do in this crummy little town?”

A janitor (who was hired): “Is the building always this dirty?”

As you can see sometimes the questions fall into the “reverse interview” and sometimes just asking general info, but I seem to get much more information about the person with that question than with the general, “Is there anything you wish to ask me about this job or this library?”

– Dusty Snipes Grès, Director, Ohoopee Regional Library System

Have you taken beginning and advanced cataloguing?Did you have a cataloguing practicum for field work?

What experience have you had cataloguing?

What languages can you catalogue?

What computer skills have you?

NLM, MeSh, DCC, Amicus, MARC21, MARCEdit, MARCReport?

– J. McRee (Mac) Elrod, Special Libraries Catalouging
Paula Hammet
Where do you look for job ads and position announcements?  Which job boards do you check? Do you look at SLIS alumni job lists? For academic libraries, do you check the Chronicle for Higher Education? Inside Higher Ed? Educause? Do you check publication job listings, such as CRL News? How about professional organizations?
– Paula Hammett, Librarian at Sonoma State University
Laurie PhillipsDinners! We try so carefully to choose places where the food and service will be great. But we know that upscale restaurants can be a little intimidating for our candidates who aren’t foodies in a foodie city. Also, do they feel pressured about drinking? How can we put a candidate at ease at dinner? It’s part of their interview and a great way to get to know them and we want them to be comfortable.
– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email me at hiringlibrariansATgmail.com.

Thank YOU for reading!  If you like to comment, you’re in luck! Commenting is available to you for no extra charge.

**Edited 08/03/2012  to add in answers from Paula Hammett and Laurie Phillips


Filed under Further Questions, Other Organization or Library Type, Public

2 responses to “Further Questions: Turning the Tables

  1. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

  2. Pingback: Return to Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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