What accomplishment are you most proud of? Give me your best example of providing outstanding customer service. What does being a team player mean to you and share an example that demonstrates it? How do you build rapport with a difficult team member? If you are in job / internship search mode, you might very well be faced with answering one of these thought provoking questions. These questions are situational or behavioral interview questions, and the interviewer is looking for a particular kind of answer from you.
It might help to understand the big picture of where these questions are coming from. The purpose of asking situational or behavioral questions is:
• to get to know you,
• to understand your work style,
• to see how you handle stressful situations, and
• to learn more about your personality style.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been getting lots of emails about the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference that’s happening in June in Orlando, FL. Right now, they seem to be shouting warnings at me that the “early bird” rates will expire soon, so I should register now. But should I? Conventional wisdom emphatically says, “YES!”
I am currently a few months into my free ALA membership, thanks to taking INFO 200 last semester. I know that I really should do more with ALA and other professional associations starting now, while I’m still a student. But why? And how? A little research reveals all.
Well, because networking. And continuing education. And experience. And inspiration.
If you are a current MLIS student, you may be wondering why you should be worrying about career development now. I get it - school, work, and life keep you plenty busy, so why add something else to your plate? Well, it turns out that school is a relatively short period of time and you will be done before you know it. If you haven’t started preparing for your career before you graduate, you won’t have the scaffolding in place to build your post-school life.
Kim Dority over at Infonista argues that while grades are of course important (especially if you have funding dependent on maintaining a certain GPA), school is the time to stretch yourself and grow professionally – it’s a safe space to learn new skills, challenge yourself, and perhaps even recover from failures. Dority writes:
Although it may not seem obvious at first glance, your MLIS degree gives you lots of options in terms of a career. Believe it or not, the skills you learn in our programs actually make you highly qualified for lots of different jobs. Think about what you've been doing in school for a second, and then think about what skills those activities involve (or, better yet, write them down!):
Looking for a job takes a lot of time and energy. In fact, you may have heard that job searching is a full-time job in itself. That is at least when you do your job search the right way. A half-fast job search is a waste of your precious time and energy. Your confidence and self-esteem may also take a beating due to the constant feelings of rejection when you don’t hear anything back from employers.
If you are looking for a job, here are 5 things NOT to do.
Yippee! You have a phone interview scheduled. This is a screening call to determine if the employer would like to invite you in-house for a face-to-face. This is not the time to wing it and just go with the flow. A phone screen interview is a real interview and it is a big deal. This is your opportunity to shine and make a positive first impression.
Here are my top 5 tips to phone interview success.
1. Prepare answers to common interview questions.
Just like a face-to-face interview, you’ll want to be prepared and feel comfortable and confident answering questions like:
Do you feel stuck in the catch 22 of needing experience to get hired but feel like you can’t get experience because no one will hire you? Not to worry. There is a solution. Experience can come in many different forms. You’ll want to start early as an MLIS student, be flexible, open minded, and think BIG.
1. Start early – as soon as you can, begin thinking of opportunities to gain experience and develop new skills. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to put the skills you are learning in the virtual classroom to use in a practical way. Don’t wait until you are graduating to think about getting experience. This is a process that is part of your life as a student and goes hand-in-hand with taking your MLIS courses.
2. Be flexible – be willing to try out and take advantage of diverse opportunities that come your way. Think of each experience, whether paid or unpaid, as an opportunity to gain new skills and relevant experience.
Here is a secret formula for success to making it as an informational professional. Alumna Christina Mune (MLIS 2011) shared her 3 hints for making a smooth transition from student to professional in what I like to call, secret tips for success. Hint #1 is to expand your horizons. Hint #2 is to be strategic, and hint #3 is to get good at something.
Hint #1 - Expand your horizons of LIS possibilities.
• Take a class or two outside of your track of interest to gain a broader perspective.
• Go on A LOT of informational interviews inside and outside your areas of interest.
• Vary the topics you choose to use in your class assignments – be open-minded and diverse. This is the time when you get to experiment and try out different areas of interest.
• Do internships at a variety of places to diversify your experience and to reality test different options.
Hint #2 - Be strategic.
Have you seen the recent Library Journal salary survey? This annual survey looks at salaries, job placements, and emerging trends in job titles and skills for LIS professionals.
This year, for first time ever, LJ survey respondents stressed the importance of building and using strong job search skills, alongside the LIS-specific skills and experience students gain in master’s degree LIS programs. Excellent job search skills and strategies are critical to help today’s students transition to new professional LIS jobs. From the LJ article: “New for this year, we are looking beyond the outcome of the search and focusing on the search process itself in hopes of providing future graduates with some insight for developing their own successful strategies. The search process begins while seekers are still students”.
“While success in finding a job was high, the search process demanded perseverance and preparation.”
LJ survey participants identified many resources they used during the search, and the article enumerates some of these resources.
It is no secret that conducting a job search can sometimes elicit feelings of stress, anxiety, and nervousness. When these feelings get the best of you, your confidence may suffer and that is the last thing you want to happen when you are trying to make a positive first impression. You need to take action to stress less and keep yourself in tip top job searching shape.
When faced with a job search, think of the 3 C’s to a stress less job search. The 3 C’s focus on balancing your mind, body, and spirit. This balance can help you approach your job search with energy, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude – and who wouldn’t want to hire that person?
Here are tips to integrating the 3 C’s of create, care, and connect into your job search.