by Mary-Michelle Moore, Head Editor, INALJ California
The Would-Be Librarian Monologue: a play for solo performer in 3 acts
This month’s article was inspired by a recent interview I went on. I hope that by sharing some of my internal monologue, some readers will draw comfort in knowing that what goes through their heads is similar to what happens with the rest of us, you are not alone. For those of you without such frantic inner thoughts, please share any suggestions about calming internal voices in the comments. Enjoy.
Prologue: The Invitation
I checked my email on my phone after work before I drive home:
Dear Ms. M, we would like to interview you for the librarian position.
Me? They want me?
For the perfect position that I sent my materials into as fast as possible,
After seeing on the HR site that jobs can be taken down
Without warning after 5 days.
Me? Of course me, why not me.
Do I respond now? But then it will say sent from my iphone.
From 10-3, do they mean between 10 and 3? Do I choose?
Is it better to look as though I’m always available or remain available during the business day?
I’ll ask for a vacation day tomorrow.
Hurrah! They want me.
Act I: The Preparation
Scene 1: The Research
They did mean 10-3, but it’s a staff position, will I be interviewed as faculty?
I should read up on the faculty, the head of my department was in my library? Recently?
Do I know her? I don’t remember her – there’s her picture… on the library page… smiling.
Oh my, one of the circ assistants has an MLIS too, is she the internal candidate, the one to beat?
Will she be on the hiring committee? Will I have to go up against a favorite so they can tell HR that they interviewed several candidates?
What do I need to know? The website is pretty but where did they hide all the stats for the incoming class, I need to look prepared. Where is there mission statement, how do I fit in here?
*Ding* Oh good an email, hmm… no schedule, but they paid for parking and the directions include landmarks as well as building names, wonderful.
How many resumes should I print out.
NO. no, is that a typo? On my resume? Did they see this? Who saw this? I can fix it now, but are they laughing at me? Can I go in say I’m an expert at written communication with mixed tenses in my resume?
And what did I say in my cover letter again? I’ll print that out and take it home to look over to be sure. So many jobs, is this the one that uses the familiar ILS? Will using library-speak help me or make me look out of touch with my patrons?
What will they ask me? What is my greatest weakness? What will I say is my greatest weakness? Can I say organic chemistry? It’s the truth and gets a laugh, maybe it will break the ice. Do I say that I’m a perfectionist? That’s what Mrs. L always told us to say – I’m really not but it makes it sound as though I’m detail-oriented and attentive. What do I say?
Scene 2: The attire
The brown suit or the grey? The brown suit looks more contemporary, younger while still formal, a breath of fresh air ready to bring enthusiasm and ambition to the position. The grey suit is more traditional, and the skirt really needs heels to look right. The grey suit says hire me I’m wise beyond my years, I am sensible and think ahead. Oh look, it rained last night – the brown it is, slacks, flats and a purse big enough for an umbrella.
My hair, why did I ever cut my hair? The shorter hair makes me look more professional but the long hair could be put into a French twist so easily, no tempting ends to play with. And all the humidity from the rain is straightening out the curl I put in and frizzing up the straight I wanted to stay. Woe, woe to me for my hair!
Okay, fine, it looks fine. No eyeliner, I will never learn the knack of looking put together and less like I have a black eye. No perfume, I don’t want to walk in accidentally smelling like someone’s ex, or least favorite teacher – they’ll hate me without knowing why.
Do I wear my engagement ring or not? Is it too much jewelry; is it better for a young potential staff member to seem unattached? I’ll wear it, it won’t matter much, though I tend to talk with my hands.
Scene 3: The journey
Deep breaths… In… Out… You prepped, stop worrying.
Remember, you’re excited, not nervous, it looks the same excited or nervous, so decide, right now to be excited.
I think I’m going to be sick. And is that… the gas light is on. Do I have enough gas to make it there? I think I do but I better stop on the way back.
Where is my phone? Not in my purse? Where, where? Oh, under my jacket okay.
Okay, I’m here, half an hour early. Too early, I can’t go in this early. I’m too nervous to read, okay games on my phone, I’ll set a timer.
The nerves are back. In….out…. in…. out….
Act II: The interview
Scene 1: Entrance
It said it would be on the left and it’s not here… Oh, there it is. Okay, who do I talk to – no name just ask at the desk, okay.
I looked at my paper, I can’t remember her last name, oh, this is the head of the department, here, at the desk. I’m going to interview with someone who just saw that I could not remember their last name.
Scene 2: Head of the department
Okay, things are going well. New position, coming into a department with some strong personalities, nothing too terrible, you’ve dealt with that before. How to say that without sounding like you’re speaking ill of past positions?
Did I mention everything I’ve worked on? Can I just suggest ideas to problems she’s highlighting or does that come later. Did I mention that I’m great at statistics, really good, love them actually. Oh, that’s all the time we have? What about the questions I had prepared?
Scene 3: The rest of the department
Everyone… everyone is here… How am I going to remember this many names? Do I have to send everyone a thank you for interviewing me card or will an email do? Okay, look at everyone at least once as you answer questions. They don’t seem to be going off of a list.
I’m very thirsty, can I ask for some water? Why is that person in the corner sitting with her arms crossed? Is that just how she sits? Is she mad about something? Am I competing for what she sees as her position?
Did I answer all parts of that question? Can I add the great example of when I spoke at a workshop last summer? Does that make me look ambitious enough? Too ambitious? Will they take me out of the running because it was at X annual rather than Y annual? Will they see how it connects to what they ask? The connections make sense to me, but was I clear?
Oh, we’re done?
Scene 4: Campus tour
Hurray! I get to walk around. Thank goodness for flats. The admin is very nice to give this tour. She keeps referring in passing to the other girl they interviewed. How much can I ask without being rude? Probably not much. Oh we’re going to see the other library, but I won’t be there very much will? It’s a beautiful building.
I try to smile at people we’re running into. They smile back, say hello. The DEAN? I just met the DEAN? He said his name was Bob. The Dean cannot be Bob, the Dean is Dean Bob H., please call me Bob, not just Bob. Oh my…
My guide tells me I’m not like a normal librarian, what does that mean? Is that good? And I’m an extrovert? Who knew, if only she knew how hard I work at this: pleasant, smiling demeanor, I really need a break.
Off to see the head of the library.
Scene 5: Lunch
They’re going to feed me, thank goodness! Oh no, what do I order? What’s something I can eat and not spill… A sandwich should be safe, right?
Wait, look up, still talk, smile, and make eye contact. Good, good. Answer questions, you’re still being evaluated; they want to see how well you fit in…
That is the sandwich? It’s huge, I know it’s the club but do they think I have the jaw of a snake? Oh, we’re still chatting okay.
Talking and answering questions is more important than eating, but try to eat at least something. How did everyone else already finish, I’m still eating? Do I leave all of it? I can’t carry it back with me… Oh the waiter’s here, thank you I’m full.
Act III: Afterwards
Scene 1: So long, farewell
Thank you for coming in, we’ll be in touch soon.
Oh okay, thank you for the time. Thank you, bye. No, I’ve been doing so well, and now I turn into a blithering moron? My last impression and it’s… *sigh
Scene 2: Stationary
I need new thank you cards. Am I a peacock? What does it say if I buy the ones with a peacock? Or the plain with the monogram? Why are they out of M? Or the ones with the books – no who wants to be remembered as the candidate who wants to work in a library because they like books. The green ones are nice, but there are only 8 in a box. The ones from Charity are 12 to a box and at least they will get a donation. Maybe they will notice that I am the kind of person who buys cards that donate to Chairty, and even if they do not, Charity will get a donation.
Scene 3: Unwind and wait
I can’t wait to change and watch some TV. So tired… thank goodness I took the vacation day and didn’t try to go into work. I’ll just write the thank you notes later. And wait… and wait… and watch Dr. Who