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). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s 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.com. INALJ has had over 18.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk 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 a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website, KhanMoving.com, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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  3 comments for “Over Prepare Then Go with the Flow

  1. Sara
    July 21, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    very nice – I hope I can get some interviews. I’m in CA – wonder if we will end up at the same place!

  2. sarahem
    December 17, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Excellent and timely advice–I have an interview tomorrow and have been, by some standards, overpreparing. Now to just remember that I know what I’m talking about and to go with the flow!

    • Alabama to Idaho Editors
      December 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      Haha, that is the hardest part, sometimes. I hope your interview went well!

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