Interview Tips that I learned from becoming the interviewer

Recently, I was able to actively participate in interviewing candidates for library assistant positions. It was a fantastic experience for me and I really feel like it shed light on interviews in a way it never had for me before. Although some of these may be obvious, they represent things job seekers can do to make themselves a stronger candidate in the eyes of the interviewer:

Answer in STAR:

Whenever a question starts off with “tell me about a time when…” or “tell me about a situation…” you are probably dealing with a STAR question. STAR stands for Scenario, Task, Action, Result—in other words, what happened, why you had to do something, how you did it, and what you accomplished. Most people answer scenario and action, but not task or result. Task shows your leadership skills and that you understand the purpose for your actions. Make sure the action is as specific as possible and adding the result wraps up your answer nicely and enforces your skills at problem solving or whatever it was that the question was really trying to find out about. It is handy to keep in mind that these questions are an opportunity for you to show off your skills and ending with “I successfully accomplished this [result],” is always a bonus.

Less is more when you are introduction an example:

I do not need to hear every little detail about how it started or the background, just the basics to understand it. What we are really interested in is what you did.

Act like the person interviewing you has never seen your resume:

Yes, they probably have, but they probably did not pour over it the way you did when you were writing it. I want to see that you know what strengths you have that would benefit this position. One of the candidates I interviewed had amazing educational experience that I felt was incredibly relevant to the position, but they failed to mention it in the interview.

Bring a sticky note:

I always bring a pen, resume, cover letter, job description, my notes on what things I want to talk about, and any examples of work I have done that I plan to bring up in the interview (just in case they want to see them). What I have learned is that none of these are as important as a small and brief sticky-note of examples or skills that you want to mention. I never even look at all that other stuff and have yet to ask for any of that from a candidate! Try to do a quick skim of your sticky note near the end of the interview so that you can follow through with my next tip:

End it with a sales pitch:

At the end of the interview, bring up points that you failed to make or do a brief closing sales pitch about why you are the best candidate for the position. If you had planned to mention something and it never came up in the interview, try to bring it up at the end.

Only some of the questions matter a lot:

Your interviewer probably has key questions that are important to them and candidates usually do not know which ones those are ahead of time. My point here is that the ones you think you answered badly may not be the ones they even care much about. For example, out of all the questions asked only a few were scrutinized in detail and used to compared each candidates.

Always try to bring up any relevant transferable skills (especially if the area is one you are not strong in):

It is ok to say you do not have experience in something, just re-enforce that it is something that you want to learn more about. When I asked the candidate about their experience in a common library skills set, their answer was that they did not have any. However, it was a skill set that I could easily have seen her answering with transferable skills from one of their past positions.

Look like you will fit in with the library’s brand:

If you already work for the organization, wear your name badge/library logo somewhere on you for the interview. If you do not work for the organization, try to wear their brands’ colors or other merchandise, if you can slip it in casually; for example, using a book bag with their logo on it in the interview room. It makes it easier to visualize you as an employee to the interviewer.

I hope these tips may help some people out there with looming LIS interviews!


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