Employing Website Statistics to Prepare for Library Job Interviews

by Nicole Pagowsky

You’ve created an online portfolio, maintain a professional blog and an online presence; all of this will be useful to potential employers who may want to gain more information on you, but how can you gain more insight on the employer?

By installing code to gather website statistics, it is possible to surmise not only if employers are researching you, but also who is researching you and what information they are seeking. Having access to this data might also be able to inform you as to what interview questions you will be posed with.

During library school, I created an online website/portfolio and began a blog. Later, during my job search, I realized from my website statistics that I could see which institutions I had submitted an application to were viewing my site. After a few interviews, I was also able to make correlations between pages viewed or documents downloaded and interview questions.

Tracking this data can help you see if your materials are effective and which areas of your accomplishments are most important to future interviewers. This can be immensely helpful in promoting your professional image as well as preparing for interviews.

How to install the code

There are a variety of choices for keeping statistics. I personally use Statcounter because I like how the data is displayed. Google Analytics is free and generally easy to work with, while also having some extra features.

Once you have selected a provider and set up your account there will be directions for where to copy/paste the code. If you have created your own website, inserting the code in the template works great and still tracks every page. If using a blog, there might be other instructions, such as adding an HTML/JavaScript box to the layout that will be invisible after pasting in the code. Some blogs and website builders come complete with a tracker, which should be just as useful.

How to read the statistics

Most trackers should allow you to view visitor location (and might also include a map), download activity, and entrance/exit pages. Time-length spent on the site and on each page is another feature to look at, as well as if there are return or first-time visitors.

The main feature I find most useful is looking at visitor path, because this will typically give you all the mentioned information chronologically, per visit. I can see if someone found my blog through Twitter; through a Google (or other) search, including search terms used; or if a visit was spurred by a link in another library blog.

Trackers will show from which page to which page a visitor viewed, so it’s possible to see which blog posts, portfolio pages, or even which tags were of the most interest.

Time spent on the page is also important to look at, because if visitors are not staying long enough to actually read your blog it might be too text heavy, not visually appealing, or the topic of posts were not of interest. There are methods to improve your blog or portfolio to remedy this from the sector of usability studies and user experience design (see recommended reading). If you are not getting enough useful statistics, you can also attempt to create more trackable content.

How to make your site yield good statistics

Web usability studies talk about both utilizing both good visual design and good organization to attract and keep users on a site. Both facets of design are essential not only for having an effective professional presence, but also for charting that presence.

Some tips:

  • If you have enough information to do so, create distinct pages instead of trying to fit everything on one main page. This will keep your site organized and make it possible to see which pages are getting the most attention. (For example, separate your portfolio, resume, and coursework pages.)
  • Title and label pages succinctly and match navigation links to page URLs. This makes it easier to discern which pages visitors are landing on and where they are going.
  • Make it possible for viewers to download documents. If you have created a great tutorial for work or designed promotional materials as a volunteer, create a link to a pdf or other version. It will give potential employers a sense of your work and it will allow you to see which specific documents are being downloaded.
  • Link all of your sites together so you can see which gets the most traffic and which directs the most traffic. On my portfolio site, I have a link to my blog and Twitter; on my blog I have my Twitter feed in a prime location and have a link to my portfolio site, and so on.

How to guesstimate interview questions

Once your site is organized, you will be able to see who is looking at your site, and hopefully a percentage of those views will be from potential employers. You will be able to see the visitor location (city, state, country) as well as the institution or Internet provider.

Clearly, you will be primed to general interview questions based on the job description and qualifications listed; however, extra detail can be constructed from page hits and downloads.

This is where the importance of offering downloadable items comes into play. You might be asked specific questions about your work on these items; I was asked in a couple interviews for more information about items search committee members had downloaded. I also noticed one library looked more at my blog than my site and sure enough during the interview they expressed an interest in someone being able to do more promotion for the library virtually in Web 2.0 platforms. It is possible to determine a potential employer’s focus based on how they view your materials.

Having a great site is more than just the half of it, but employing and using statistics to track site visitors and content can be immensely useful not only during the job search, but also in determining the effectiveness of your online presence.

Recommended Reading


Nicole Pagowsky is a reference/instruction/collection development Librarian III at El Centro Community College in Dallas, Texas. Read her blog, The Pumped Librarian and her tweets.