This week’s question was suggested by one of the people who hires librarians, whose job-hunting employee recently received a rejection letter signed by a deceased library director. On top of that, the letter used the director’s former title. So this week’s question is:
A few years ago when I was applying for jobs attempting to move from Upstate NY to Ohio, I applied for the directorship of an area public library. The whole search was a bit of a horror show, not one particular piece of it, and definitely not “the letter”. Read on. After applying for the position and having received a phone call from the chair asking me to call him, I tried several times to reach him. He hadn’t left a message with his original call, so I wasn’t sure why he was calling. After multiple tries to the number he had given me, I decided to call the actual library to see if they knew how to get in touch with this man, who was a Trustee. The librarian said that they had received several calls for him about the search, and all they could do was to leave him a message that I had called, as they had with the other calls. We eventually connected, and I was asked to come for an interview. The interview was to start at 7:00 at night!! I drove the 6 ½ hours from NY to Ohio, and arrived at the library. I was asked to sit right outside the conference room in which the search committee was meeting—as it turned out—with another candidate. So we, the two candidates, said hello to each other as he was leaving and I was waiting to go into the room. Not that comfortable a situation.
I was interviewed by the search committee for a couple of hours, and then was told they would be in touch. Well, they never got in touch with me at all, not even to say “thanks, but no thanks.” Needless to say, that meant that I apparently didn’t get the position. But to this day, I don’t know that for a fact. 🙂 That was 8 years ago and I still joke that as far as I know, I am still a candidate for this position. I admit that after the 6 ½ hour drive, and a night interview, I probably wasn’t at my best, so I don’t blame anyone for not selecting me. But “open until filled” has taken on a whole new meaning for me with that little horror story of an interview. 🙂
– Sharon Britton, Library Director, BGSU – Firelands
Just out of library school with a Saturday morning interview for a special library solo-librarian position – not during regular business hours so was expecting to be buzzed in. However, the person I was to see was not there, so I waited on the sidewalk. After 15 minutes past the appointment time, Ms. Ding-A-Ling arrived and asked me for money for the parking meter. Once her car was taken care of, up we went to the office. During the elevator ride I discovered that she had quit working there several months before and the person she had hired as her replacement “hadn’t worked out. Say – do you have any hearing or visual problems that make it so you can’t use a phone or computer?” Hmmm…… Three questions into the interview she asked about my salary expectations. As I had no idea what the job even entailed at that point, I deferred answering and said I had some questions. Then someone wandered into the library, so she stopped and answered a reference question, leaving me sitting there wondering what I had gotten myself into. She came back and said “I need lunch. I will answer your questions there.” Off we went to the sandwich shop across the street where she bought herself lunch, then turned to me and said “I’ll let you know what I decide. Bye” I hadn’t asked my questions yet. I said “Thank you and can I get that 4 dollars I lent you for the parking meter, please?” Two days later she sent me a rejection e-mail addressed to someone else. I contacted Victoria, the other rejectee and a total stranger and asked what her experience was with Ms. Ding-A-Ling. We had a good laugh.
Lesson learned? Don’t let others waste your time even if it’s an interview and you are unemployed and desperate (which I was). What does it say about a company that let this gal conduct interviews this way? Does it show that they give a rip about what goes on in their corporate library? Heck no. Message received loud and clear – you are a questionable employer and I am going far far away from you.
– Toby Willis-Camp, a former Director of Libraries for a professional association
It can be very difficult to hire in Omaha, NE. No matter how much evidence we put in front of people that Omaha is an awesome, changing community with few budget problems, it’s still hard to get past people’s perception of the Midwest. When we do get people to apply for a job here, they often make it very clear that they are only putting in their time so they can go somewhere else. A recent interviewee told us that he was applying for jobs outside the area, so he’d probably only be able to work for us for a few months. Needless to say, we did not hire him. I refuse to hire someone who doesn’t want to be here for awhile. Do they need to retire from Omaha Public Library? Of course not. But I don’t need to hire someone who makes me feel like we are their last choice.
– Manya Shorr, Senior Manager, Branch Services, Omaha Public Library
I can’t top that rejection letter horror story. Wow! Though every rejection I have received for a job has hurt on some level, none have been truly tacky! I have kept those invariably polite and sometimes curt responses in mind as I now have to write the letters with bad news to all but one of our applicants and interviewees. I think it has helped me try to break the news with a little more care and a little less officiousness.
– Marge Loch-Wouters, Youth Services Coordinator, La Crosse (WI) Public Library
Well, readers? Can you top that? Tell us your tales of tacky rejection letters, interviewers, etc. etc.!
7 responses to “Reader Response Requested: Tales of Tackiness and Horror”
I don’t think I can top the first two stories, but I did apply for a library assistant position at a for-profit art college and they called and left a message saying they’d like me to come in for an interview. I called back, got voicemail, and left a message saying I’d be happy to come in whenever they wanted. Waited a week with no call back, then called again and left another polite message. Waited another week and got an email saying I was no longer being considered for the position. Why, I have no idea!
A few years back I applied for a library job at L.A. Trade Tech. Got a response months later thanking me for the interview (never had an interview!) but that the job was canceled. Fast forward another year and I get a letter asking if I want to reapply for the job. LOL.
After graduating from library school where I specialized in Archives and Records Administration, I responded to a job posting and applied for a two-year visiting archivist position at a major university in Florida. I participated in a telephone interview first and was asked to interview in person.
I was given the choice of three dates, so I figured there were going to be at least two other candidates being interviewed for the position. I went down and interviewed. Knowing the dates of the other interviews, I had some indication regarding when I might hear back from the university.
The time of the last interview came and went and I still waited. I had had my share of experiences of applying for jobs and never hearing back but I figured that since they went so far as to fly me down for a day-long interview (plus dinner with two members of the search committee the night before), I would hear something from them.
Approximately a month later, I saw the position re-posted on a listserv by someone not affiliated with the university. Shortly there after, I saw it re-posted on a different listserv by a member of the search committee. That same day I emailed the main search committee member to inquire about the status of my candidacy. Two weeks later she finally responded back saying I was no longer being considered a candidate for the position.
Not too long after that, they re-posted the position for a third time.
My husband and I are both librarians, and we would absolutely LOVE to work with the Omaha Public Library! It is close to his family and it has everything I am looking for in a community. I can’t wait until the next job opening. We are hoping to relocate to the midwest soon, so timing is a issue right now. Hopefully other librarians will keep their distance so we have a good shot when the right time comes along. 😉
I once received a rejection email from a Mid-Western university that said, “After careful consideration, we have decided to declare the search failed.”
Now, I was definitely punching above my weight with this job, and I didn’t make it to any interview rounds (if there even were any), but this was by far the most cutting of the (many!) rejection letters I received. Using the word ‘failed’ was like a slap in the unemployed face and felt very personal (but I have been accused of the crime of sensitivity).
So, please, rejection letter writers, take the 10 extra seconds to not crush the fragile, bird-boned spirits of your applicants.
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