The Day Long Interview

The Day Long Interview
By Terri Gotschall

If you are new to academic librarianship you might not be prepared for a day long interview. New to this experience myself I want to pass on a few words of encouragement, some tips, and ideas on how to relax and enjoy a day of meeting new people and sharing ideas. No time to waste? Here are the highlights:

  • Keep your receipts
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Your presentation should closely match the job description
  • Breathe
  • You are meeting new friends
  • Share your ideas
  • Ask questions
  • Congratulations, you have written your cover letter, assembled your CV, jumped through the online application process and mastered the phone interview. They have checked your references and called you for an onsite interview. The institution has sent you the agenda for your interview and you realize it is a two day whirl wind trip and the interview itself lasts the entire day. It looks exhausting, tiring and your feet swell just from the thought of wearing formal footwear for 8-10 hours. It may look something like this. Sample Agenda: 7:45 am – Pick up from hotel 8 am – Arrive at the university 8:10 am – Tour of the library 8:20-8:30 am – Set up presentation 8:30–9:30 am – Presentation and Q&A 9:30-9:40 am – Break 9:40-10:40 am – Meet with library staff 10:40-11:40 am – Meet with library faculty 11:40 am – 1 pm – Lunch 1-1:30 pm – Meet with the Department Head 1:30-2pm – Meet with Dean or Director or the Library 2-2:30 pm – Tour of campus 2:30-2:40 pm – Break 2:40-3:00 pm – Final meeting with the Search Committee 3:30-4:30pm – Tour of community and drop back off at hotel Take a deep breath. This is your opportunity to shine, meet new people, and share your ideas. Tip: If you are traveling they will send you information on their travel procedures. Be sure to read those over carefully, and keep all of the documents they request. If they are reimbursing you for your travel expenses they will need those receipts and documentation. Tip: Wear comfortable shoes but dress professionally. I recommend wearing a suit. More than likely you will not be wearing one every day to work but you are seeking a professional position and if your suit makes you feel more confident go for it. The institution you are interviewing at will most likely ask you to prepare a teaching demonstration or presentation on a topic related to the position. Tips on Presenting:
  • The presentation topic should be closely related to the job description. If you are allowed to pick your topic, choose your topic based on the job description.
  • They are looking for someone with a certain skill set, demonstrate how you meet each of their needs.
  • Practice and time your presentation. Stick with the time they have assigned for your presentation, try not to be too far under or over the allotted time. Time management is an important skill and it shows respect for your college’s time. If you’ve got this skill let it shine.
  • You are going to be meeting a lot of new people, it is OK if you can’t remember all of their names but do your best and know the names of those on your search committee. We all tend to make friends where we work. Just think, if you are the successful candidate, this is the day you are going to meet your future friends, and colleges. Tip: There will be breaks throughout the day, this will seem obvious but you should take them. Go to the restroom, sip on some water, and collect your thoughts before you go into the next meeting. There will be opportunities during the day to ask questions of those interviewing you. Consider this your turn to interview them, ask questions you are curious about. This is the one area I really struggled in, I had a hard time coming up with productive questions to ask. Question Ideas:
  • Clarification on the job description or expectations
  • Scheduling questions
  • What do you like best about working here?
  • If you could change one thing about working here, what would it be?
  • Why should I begin my career at this institution?
  • How is this institution handling budget reductions?
  • You want to know if this opportunity is a good match for you, so ask questions that are important to you. However, I will caution, if the salary is not posted with the job description and you really want to know, don’t ask just yet. This conversation will happen when they offer the successful candidate the job, be patient it will pay off. Remember all of the librarians who are interviewing you, have already been through a similar interview process. They want to be sure the chosen candidate (hopefully you) will be able to succeed, grow and flourish at their institution. Last thought, just because they offer you the job, doesn’t mean you have to take it. Now go be awesome! Terri Gotschall graduated from Florida State University’s MLIS program in December of 2015 and is currently the office manager for the Research and Information Services and Information, Literacy and Outreach Departments at the University of Central Florida, John C. Hitt Library. She is actively pursuing full time academic librarianship in the Central Florida area. A huge thank you to my mentors at UCF whose guidance is woven into this piece.