Intern Job Opening 12
Within three days our human resources department received thirty resumes and cover letters, twenty-three of which we, the library staff, quickly dismissed, as it was obvious that these applicants were applying just for the sake of applying. Of the seven remaining, three called me to discuss the position. I do not like that. I don't like talking on the phone, sometimes much to the chagrin of friends and family, and I did not give a phone number on the position description for a reason, though I salute the enterprising googlers who found me.
No, I don't want to talk about the job posting. Stop calling, RTFC, & follow instructions!Of these three callers, one submitted a cover letter that looked like it was written in under two minutes. That left us with six. Two we, library staff, were on the fence about. Because we're a small library, we decided to err on the side of caution and not invite these two applicants to campus. This left us with more time to do library things, like showing people how to print, where the bathrooms are, cataloging, and sending out links of squee animals. The other four were invited to campus, and accepted.
— Jacob Berg (@jacobsberg) July 31, 2012
Our interview process is iterative. First there's a formal interview, almost always with not only library staff, but also someone from a dean or provost's office. I cannot stress enough how important it is to bring in someone from outside the library and library services when interviewing, at least for an academic library. It keeps the conversation focused on what a candidate can do for not only a library, but also the larger academic community, and it keeps the library jargon to a minimum. It also keeps me in check, lest I say something less than stellar about MPOW's administration, not that that would ever happen.
The second step is a tour of the library, culminating in a viewing of our broken microfilm reader. I have been at MPOW for almost five and a half years and not once has it worked. On the other hand, not once has anyone asked for microfilm except for interlibrary loan requests, which we happily grant. The third step is filling out a formal MPOW job application.
Both library and non-library interviewers were pleased with the four applicants, but to the library staff, two immediately stood out. Both had grade school teaching experience, as well as retail experience, important since librarianship is, in large part, about customer service. One of these candidates name-dropped The Wire, which is always a plus. The other commanded the room in such a way that it was clear five minutes into the interview that we were going to offer her the position. Fortune shined upon us when we found out that we could extend job offers to both of them.
The other two candidates were not bad, both are people with whom we could do business, but were simply less good than the two to whom we made offers. It happens. One of these not-bad-but-less-good candidates has a wealth of library experience, but that experience takes place at a very posh library in a posh area of a posh state. Given that MPOW functions something like a historic black college/university (HBCU) and educates more graduates of the District of Columbia public school system than any other private institution in the country, it didn't seem like the best fit. The other of these interviewees had less library experience, but talked cogently about the digital divide and making information accessible. This candidate would require more training, but an ability to examine oneself vis-a-vis unfamiliar surroundings is something that's hard to teach. All the interviewers, myself included, remain stumped on how to rank these two candidates.
It is also worth mentioning that all four people we brought in for interviews had at least one typo on either their resume or cover letter, and only one wrote us a thank you note, following up after the interview. One interviewee arrived twenty-five minutes early and asked to have the interview upon arrival. Don't do that.
I hope the offers we've extended are accepted, and I can post an update during training.
UPDATE: a related post is now up (2pm, 8/22/12).