We're getting ready to do another round of hiring for a library associate position (works at the circulation desk with other assigned projects), so I'm revisiting how I've hired in the past. One thing I'll never change is that I don't look at an applicant's name until I've looked at their resume - it's one way I've found to fight unconscious bias against names that don't sound Caucasian. Another thing I'll never change is to have someone besides me (aka the boss) give candidates a tour of the building. But, as much as I like the questions we've asked in the past, I'm considering changing them up. Below is a list of the questions along with a brief explanation of why we ask them:
- Can you tell me why you’re interested? I'm pretty sure we've asked this because everyone asks this. I think I'm going to cut it, actually.
- How do you handle a bad customer service interaction? (Give example.) Students, faculty, and staff don't always act their best when they are stressed, and the person working at the front desk is the front line. I need to know that they aren't going to take it personally when people get angry.
- When you use libraries, how do you use them? To be honest, this is more of an intro to something I want all candidates to know - that this library is an academic department and a physical location and that we do plenty of things that are traditionally seen as student life. I want to give them a head's up about the things that aren't necessarily in the job description.
- How do you like to learn new work skills? We give preference to people who have either experience in a library or in a public facing role in higher ed, but regardless of what they bring to the job - there's a lot of learning for them. We need to know how to tailor what we teach to how they learn.
- How do you handle projects you’ve been given? This is a way to get at how they approach things when they aren't supervised.
- Tell me about a previous job — what did you love and what didn’t you like? This is another question we ask as a way to introduce a topic I want to discuss, namely my management style.
- How do you respond when you don’t know the answer to a question? We need people who are willing to admit they don't know everything and know how to handle that.
- What is good customer service? We're looking for people to talk about respect. Most of our students are first generation college students, so making sure our students feel comfortable coming in the building is important.
- How would you handle it if the phone rang right as a line formed at the circulation desk? Trying to figure out how they handle stressful situations - hypotheticals are good for that.
- How do you handle it when you disagree with coworkers? How about with a boss? This is important information, but yet again it's an opportunity to talk to them about my management style - about how I want people to let me know when I've made a mistake.
- What questions do you have for me? You can learn so much about a person by the kinds of questions they ask.
What do you all think? Anything you'd change? (Feel free to borrow these questions if you like them.)