Be Mindful of How Stressful Interviews Are and Be Compassionate

Diana La Femina earned her MLS from Indiana University in 2007. She specialized in rare books librarianship and recently finished the M.Phil. program in Medieval Language, Literature, and Culture at Trinity College, Dublin. She is currently employed temporarily in an unrelated field and is searching for a professional position. She has been job hunting for more than 18 months, in academic libraries, archives, library vendors/service providers, public libraries, school libraries, special libraries, and

anywhere I think I can use my degree at all.

Ms. La Femina has been looking at the entry level, for positions requiring at least two years of experience, and

whatever I think I can argue being qualified for.

Here is how she describes her internship/volunteering experience:

My internships were fantastic, though I do wish I could have gotten more experience from them. If I could go back and do my degree program all over again, knowing how the job market would change just before December 2007,  I would spend even more time interning and volunteering. I’m trying to get as much volunteer work as I can find now to make up for it now. I just hope my efforts show.

Ms. La Femina is in a suburban area in the Northeastern US, and when asked if she is willing to move, says:

Very willing, but being able to depends on the position. I can’t relocate if the salary for a position won’t support such a move.

She describes herself as a Librarian Extraordinaire, Book Reviewer, and Tea Lover. You can see more about her professional qualifications, as well as her other endeavors, on LinkedIn here.

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a job?

1. Do I meet the qualifications, or can I justify applying for the position if I don’t?

2. Do the qualifications and requirements match the job description and pay? In other words, is there a disconnect between the candidate requested and the position being offered (are they asking for at least five years of experience when the position described is entry level).

3. Can I afford to relocate or exist on the salary listed? Surprisingly, not always.

Where do you look for open positions?

ALA Joblist, LinkedIn, INALJ, various college and university websites,, various libraries in specific cities, SLA, ACRL…so many places.

Do you expect to see salary range listed in a job ad?

√ Other: I prefer to, even if it’s a broad range. I’m wary of postings that don’t list a salary range because it’s one of the ways I gauge what an employer wants of me. Especially if the position requires relocation, I need to know the salary range so I can know whether I could take the position if I got it.

What’s your routine for preparing an application packet? How much time do you spend on it?

It depends on the position, the detail in the job description, etc. Usually I’d say a couple of hours, less if I can work on an application without interruption. I just recently spent the better part of a week working on a cover letter that I’ll hopefully be able to use as a base in the future.

First I go through the job ad and pick out the major duties and requirements. Then, I make a list matching these to my experience. How can I show that I have the experience they’re looking for? After doing that and typing up a rough draft, I try to figure out where and how to explain what I can do for the employer and why I’m the best candidate.

I’m not sure if all of this works or not; I haven’t landed anything yet.

Have you ever stretched the truth, exaggerated, or lied on your resume, or at some other point during the hiring process?

√ Other: Lied, no; exaggerated, perhaps. I FEEL like I’m exaggerating, but I also have a really hard time telling people how wonderful I am, so I think it’s more me selling myself. There’s a fine line.

When would you like employers to contact you?

√ To acknowledge my application

√ To tell me if I have or have not been selected to move on to the interview stage

√ To follow-up after an interview

√ Once the position has been filled, even if it’s not me

√ Other: Tell me ANYTHING you can. It’s a common courtesy. I understand getting a form email when there are many applications, but acknowledgement is only polite and helps me gauge my job search.

How do you prefer to communicate with potential employers?

√ Other: Contact me any way you can. Choose whatever way is easiest for you, so long as you contact me.

Which events during the interview/visit are most important to your assessment of the position (i.e. deciding if you want the job)?

√ Tour of facility

√ Meeting department members/potential co-workers

√ Other: I want to know where I’ll be working, with whom I’ll be working, and what I’ll be doing. Salary details, benefits, and all else can be discussed after we’ve both determined that I’m a good fit for the position. (Again, a basic salary RANGE is important in the beginning, not the salary itself.)

What do you think employers should do to get the best candidates to apply?

List realistic requirements. Don’t set unrealistically-high requirements for an entry-level position. Also, look beyond the requirements and actually READ and LISTEN to the applicants. The best candidate has probably already applied, but it may not be obvious on paper at first glance.

What should employers do to make the hiring process less painful?

Contact candidates. Let them know when you’ve decided they aren’t who you want soon after you decide. Also, interviews are stressful, especially when you’ve been rejected many times or have had a hard time getting an interview. You want to see how good a candidate is, not how nervous they can get. Be mindful of how stressful interviews are and be compassionate. Try to put the interviewee at ease. Give them the chance to shine. And DON’T dismiss a candidate outwardly even if you’ve done so mentally at any point in an interview. It’s extremely rude and you could very well be making a mistake.

What do you think is the secret to getting hired?

If you’ve figured it out, let me know.

This survey was co-authored by Naomi House from I Need A Library Job – Do you need one?  Check it out!

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Filed under Job hunter's survey, Northeastern US, Suburban area

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