by Kristen Jaques, Head Editor, INALJ Maine
6 Things You Should Do After Your Library Job Interview
The Scenario: Today you just had an interview with a terrific library where your skills and passion will truly be an asset. Good job, you! However, there is much more work to be done if you want to increase your chances of getting this job or the next job that comes along. Here is your new recommended game plan:
The First 24 Hours –
1. Make a list of questions that were asked during the interview.
Write these down while they are fresh in your memory, along with whatever details you can remember from the answers you provided. You can do this in the car after you leave the interview (in a different parking lot) or at a café before you drive home. Why should you do this? Having this written record will give you factual information to keep you balanced as you relive the interview in your head and overanalyze it. You can also use this information to ponder whether there is anything you wish you’d said differently, and you can use it as a conversation piece among close LIS friends, and gain insights as to how they might have answered the questions.
2. Send Thank You letters.
These should be written on the day of the interview and sent through email or mail shortly thereafter. You will generally be expected to send an individualized letter to each person who interviewed you, or assisted you in any way during your visit: for example, the person who gave you a tour. If you were interviewed by a panel of six people and given a tour by a seventh, I’m afraid this will be every bit as much of a headache as it sounds. Have lots of snack foods on hand, and TV or music to play as background noise. Make sure to use your thank you letters to reiterate your interest in the position and the library, and to make a case for why you still believe you are an excellent fit for the job. The thank you letter guide and examples on jobsearch.about.com were my go-to resource after interviews (http://jobsearch.about.com/od/thankyouletters/a/samplethankyou.htm). You can always write something more original or specific to the library in question, but try to maintain a balance between being personable and professional. If you search for articles on how to write these, you will get the gist of what employers like to see.
Within 48 Hours –
3. Apply for a minimum of one other position.
Or at the very least, look for new job postings and begin gathering materials for your next application. While you will feel drained from the interview, the thank you letter writing, and life in general, this act can serve as a great personal affirmation. It signifies that you are not going to put your job search and life on hold while you wait for the organization you interviewed with to make their decision. Having another job application under your belt will give you concrete evidence that your future does not rest solely in the hands of one organization. It will give you the well-earned freedom to temporarily relax and celebrate your recent successes.
Until You Receive News of the Hiring Decision –
4. Learn a new skill that you will need for that job.
You may have realized when you read through the job posting or spoke with the interviewer that there was a required or preferred skill that you have not yet obtained, or could refine. Take the opportunity to seek out information about this aspect of the job and read as much as you can about it, or talk to colleagues who are working in that role. This will make you feel more confident if you are offered the job, and if you don’t get the job, you will still have a new knowledge set for when you apply for other positions.
5. Follow up…calmly, non-intrusively, and pleasantly.
This is one step that falls outside of my own personal comfort zone, and makes me worry that I seem pushy and desperate. Yet I acknowledge that the follow up email can be helpful to the applicant, and can demonstrate the applicant’s organizational and communication skills, as well as the applicant’s continued interest. During my days as a timid, mild-mannered library job applicant, I tended to ignore advice suggesting that I should be very assertive and tenacious, and I would err on the side of sending a brief, polite email if I had not heard back within the timeframe mentioned at the interview. I am actually very lucky, because on the very day I started writing this post, an excellent new article on this subject appeared in my news feed. If you missed it, read Alison Green’s U.S. News and World Report: On Careers article “How to Check on the Status of Your Job Application.” It provides very sensible advice on how you can request information about where the organization is in their hiring process, without stepping on any toes (http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2013/03/13/how-to-check-on-the-status-of-your-job-application ).
6. Get on with your life.
It’s time to focus on carrying out the functions of your day-to-day life. A huge part of this step involves refocusing on your job search and pretending the outcome of the interview is not hanging over your head. This is basically a more long-term continuation of the third tip listed above. Keep applying for more jobs. I’ve heard people say that they feel a strong temptation to wait until they hear the decision made by the library or organization before throwing themselves back into their job hunting efforts. I strongly urge you not to do this. No matter how confident you feel about the interview, it is not a good idea to let other opportunities pass you by. Think of how you will feel if you’ve done nothing but wait around for weeks, only to hear that another candidate has been chosen. I’ve learned from experience that the more jobs I’ve applied to (and of course, the higher quality of my applications; it shouldn’t just be about quantity), the better I would feel if I received a rejecting call, email, or form letter. It’s the difference between feeling like you are part of the flow, and feeling like everything is over and you have to start again from scratch. Applying for other jobs will make you feel powerful and secure. And if you do get that job offer, you will be so elated that your hard work has paid off that it will not matter so much that you’ve spent time applying for jobs that you will not end up doing. You will be thrilled about the job that you now have the chance to do.