I apologize for the delay in posting. I’ve had to do some interviewing, and it’s always a time-consuming process. In the past, I have been on a board who interviewed MLS (Master of Library Science) degree-holding candidates, hired children’s librarians, department heads, branch managers, and clerks. No matter the degree level or experience, there are always some surprising candidates who stand out, and not for good reason. Here are my finalists for worst interviewees:
I was on a hiring board for an MLS-holding librarian which required him/her to sit in a room, divided by cubicles, with three other librarians all day every day. Needless to say, it was important the person who took that job was easy to work with in such a small area.
Question: How would you handle it if an issue arose between you and a coworker?
Answer: Well, there’s a lot of passive-aggressive foolishness where I work now, so I’d really like to get out of here and find something new.
Anyone who says in an interview that they would just like to “read all day” won’t necessarily be taken out of the running, but boy, will you have a rude awakening. You may have to clean poop from a carpet because a toddler was having too much fun playing to go to the bathroom. You may have to stop a patron from watching porn on a public computer. And you will inevitably be yelled at when someone owes ten cents for an overdue book.
Sad reality check.
Yes, the question “What are your strengths/weaknesses?” is very annoying. I use it as sort of a gauge of creativity. We all want to say, “I have no weaknesses,” but that’s obviously a lie. My favorite answer to this question was the most brutally honest thing I’d ever heard in an interview: “What’s my weakness? [Without missing a beat.] Punctuality.” In my head, I immediately scratched her off of potential hires, even though I had five more questions to wade through. Gotta give it up for the balls to be so very honest though!
When honesty meets TMI.
While hiring for a Children’s Librarian position, I received a very, very long cover letter. After briefly describing how her experience and qualifications applied to the opening, she then went on to describe in gory detail, the proposal she received from Arthur (as in the aardvark from PBS.) This candidate had attended a conference where a person was dressed as Arthur. (It took a while to suss this out.) I’m paraphrasing, and shortening by literal pages, but it went something like this: “And you wouldn’t believe it! Arthur, yes THE Arthur, D.W.’s sister, bent down on one knee and proposed to me in front of everyone! I felt like the luckiest woman in the room! Sadly, I had to turn him down…” The story got very close to one of those stories your friend who has wanted to be married since she was seven years old tells you. It was, at best, frightening.
You should’ve said yes.
Honorable mentions and/or those who did not get through to the interview process!
-The woman who came in for an interview with hair so wet all of the fabric on her back was soaked.
-The multiple people who submit applications that look as if they have been stepped on. (One had a footprint on it.)
-The woman who, when asked if she could verify she could work legally in the United States, decided to skip the Yes/No and go on to tell me she was a “WHITE 30 y/o FEMALE.” None of that information was asked for or should be written on the side of your application.
-And last but not least, the teenager who boldly wrote “IDK-NONE?” under List any honors, professional, civic activities, etc.