Literacies for the 21st Century Academic Librarian
I have been rather busy in recent weeks interviewing for positions of great interest to me. I am aware that selection committees convening to review CV’s and interview short-listed candidates are committing themselves to promote the university where they work, work collegially with their peers, and recommend the best possible candidate meeting the established requirements. I believe that anyone on such a committee takes his or her task seriously. I consider my participation in the interview process quite seriously, too.
Last April I posted an entry about interviewing that outlined some of the steps I take to prepare and provided a list of 30 questions I had compiled over a period of time. Today, I want to reiterate some of those steps.
From the very moment that you submit an application, you are embarking on a professional adventure, a serious adventure because you are exposing yourself to your professional peers and future colleagues. Once you have depressed the enter button or clicked the submit tab, you are agreeing to engage in a professional process that involves many people and various resources, including financial. I take this process very seriously.
I’ve created a flexible process through which I hope to maximize my own resources, respect those with whom I am communicating, and reduce the inevitable physical, mental, and emotional stresses. Here are a few of the things I consider when preparing for an interview:
For recent interviews, I had taken all questions collected from previous interview sessions and organized them under specific headings. I found this to be tremendously helpful when responding to questions. Here are some of the headings I use:
• Prioritizing workload
• Prioritizing resources
• Knowledge of resources
• Working under pressure
• Managing a budget
• Creative problem solving
• Handling a difficult situation
• Effective written communication
• Effective oral communication
• Information Literacy pedagogy
• Technological tools
• Emerging trends
• Recording and analyzing user feedback
• Working well in a team
• Something outside of work that might help me in the role
• Short-term plans / goals – how I establish goals
• Medium-term plans / goals – how I establish goals
• Questions to ask the panel / director
• Why I want the position
• Why I’d be good at it
• Strengths and weaknesses
Two recent interview experiences I had were incredibly rewarding. During most interviews, I feel glared upon, in a spotlight; no matter how many times the panel tells me to relax or presents the interview as a casual series of questions. However, I had a most refreshing experience during a face-to-face interviewing process a few weeks ago. The panel members were truly relaxed and well-practiced for delivering interview questions. At periods throughout the interview, cross-table conversations occurred where other panel members contributed to clarify a point or ask a tangential question. I was encouraged by this posturing for I believe that a selection committee will learn more about candidates when interviews are conversational and engaging more of a candidate’s personality.
Another interview I had recently was conducted with a conference call because members of the selection committee were distributed across other campuses. Telephone interviews are often awkward and challenging when there are no visual cues and speaker phones create audio difficulties. This interview might have been additionally confounded because it was a conference call that had members’ entrances and exits notified by an audible ping. Yet, the convener of the interview presented questions with a tone suggesting openness and sincerity that positioned the interview as unscripted, yet covering areas of concern and importance for the committee.
Some might find interviewing exasperating and exhausting; certainly they are that and more. However, I am rejuvenated after an interview. I feel more confident in my areas of expertise, find other issues or topics in which I become interested, identify gaps in my understanding of a concept or as aspect of my professionalism, and learn about my own resilience.