Over Prepare Then Go with the Flow

by Sarah Porter, former Head Editor, INALJ California
previously published 12/17/13

Over Prepare Then Go with the Flow

sarahporterYesterday I opened a fortune cookie with ideal advice for someone prepping for a job interview. It read: “over prepare then go with the flow”.

I am actively seeking jobs and interviewing, as I am relocating to Los Angeles soon. In the past few weeks, the wonderfully helpful librarians I work with have been giving me interview advice. Here are a few pieces of advice I’ve received, along with my interpretation of them:

  • Build rapport: Even if the interviewers are hard to read, try your best to initiate a connection and be friendly. In my last interview, the interviewers did not share much information or provide much feedback. In retrospect, I wish I had asked them more personal questions to find a connection.
  • Turn it into a conversation: If you are asked to interview, the hiring committee already decided that you are qualified for the position, based on your application, resume, cover letter, and supplemental questions. In the interview, interviewers are looking at your personality and how well you would fit in the organization. The more the interview turns into a conversation, the more likely you and the interviewers will determine if you are a good fit for the position.
  • Showcase your work: Provided I have a background in Graphic Design, I am used to showing off a portfolio at a job interview. Regardless, once I started looking for librarian positions, it never occurred to me that I should have a portfolio to show off my library-related work. However, a librarian I work with said that showing off her ideas for the position in a portfolio impressed the hiring committee so much that it helped her land the job.
  • Come up with ideas for the position: If the position allows for some creativity, show that you have researched the organization and already have plans to further the organizations’ goals. For instance, if the library wants to attract more teens, and the position description includes teen programming, come up with ideas for programs that will attract teens.
  • Over-prepare: You’re never sure what questions interviewers will throw at you. As the fortune cookie says: “Over prepare then go with the flow”. If you are flowing, you appear relaxed and confident. Interviewers will be impressed by your grace under pressure.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 20.5 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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