Prepping for the Job Interview

by Sara Dixon, Head Editor, INALJ Kansas

Prepping for the Job Interview

Sara Dixon PhotoFor this blog post, I want to share some ways that I prepare for job interviews. I’m told that I prepare too much sometimes, but I just feel more comfortable the more that I prepare.  The one thing I try to remember, and I heard it quite a bit at the job workshops at ALA, is that the interviewer already knows you’re qualified – it’s why they chose you for the interview.  The interview is more about seeing how you would fit in with their organization.

With that said, I give you this list of preparation techniques.

Check Out Hiring Librarians – This website is chock full of great resources for interviews!  They conduct interviews and take polls from both librarians in the job market and those doing the hiring.  You can pick up a lot of tips reading through some of those interviews.  What’s also fantastic about this site is that on the right sidebar, there is an interview question repository.  Through an ongoing survey, readers can submit interview questions they have gotten along with what position, what kind (and size) of library they interviewed for, what type of interview (public, academic, school, etc), and lots of other pertinent information.  I like to find a few questions and write out the answers to mentally prepare. I’ve often been asked questions for which I’ve prepared answers ahead of time.  It’s a terrific resource that I strongly suggest!

Check Out the Organization’s Website – Many interviewers will ask why you want to work for their specific organization.  Not having a good answer for this can spell DOOM for your prospects.  Take a look at the organization’s website.  What kind of programs and services do they offer? How can you contribute to these services?  What is their research focus?  Knowing their specialties or where you can provide new ideas and insights will make you a stronger candidate.

Build a Portfolio – Did you get a chance to read the INALJ article by Ohio Head Editor Brad McNally?  Read it.  I have an online portfolio that I share during the application process, but having something in hand when you head into your interview allows you to show your strengths as you talk about them with the interviewer.  A fantastic idea that I will be using in my own future job search!

Get Pumped! – I get nervous before interviews.  Who doesn’t?  I learned a technique in college to help ensure I wouldn’t choke during super hard exams and forget all the things I studied.  I discovered that listening to a fun, inspiring song right before the exam, such as the theme song from the Rocky movies, got me pumped!  For a few minutes, I would stop worrying about all the facts and figures I had studied and get lost in the song.  Sometimes I would sway my head and sing along (which got me some looks).  But by getting pumped, I would go into the exam exhilarated.  “I can do this!” I would say.  It always worked.  I have started doing this right before interviews as well.  I find that it calms me down so that I can go into the interview and show my best side.  It may not be a song for you, but find something that pumps you up.  Go for a run, do some yoga, play a video game! Whatever it takes to get you pumped!  You got this!

If you’ve made it to the interview process, they have picked you out of hundreds of applicants.  Just go in there and show them what makes you special.  Remember, the job has to be a good fit for you too.  So let your personality and strengths shine!