Q: I have been an MLIS graduate for a year now and still have no job. I had interviews and am always told they are impressed with me, but I never get the position. I have lots of experience working and interning in libraries. What am I doing wrong? How do I get my foot in the door? Thank you in advance for your time.
TA: This can be a frustrating experience, but don’t lose sight on the positive: clearly your application materials are strong because you keep getting invitations for an interview. There are a couple of ideas that come to mind that may get you some additional information.
First, you may want to speak with the institutions where you’ve interviewed. If they have an HR person, or if you’ve been dealing directly with the chair of the search committee, ask for feedback on your interview. Some candidates ask if there were particular areas of the interview where their performance could have been stronger, or if there are areas of experience that they could build on to strengthen their candidacy. Some institutions are more guarded with the information they release to candidates after the interview, but it may be worth your time to inquire to see if you could get some helpful feedback.
Second, you may want to practice some of the more common interviewing techniques. You could practice with friends or a professional interview coach. Most campuses offer interviewing services for alumni, so that could also be a resource for you. Consider practicing your candidate presentation and getting feedback on the content and the delivery. Also practice the post-presentation Question-and-Answer. Or practice your answers to some of the more commonly asked interview questions that you will encounter throughout the campus interview day, and get feedback on your responses.
And finally, you may want to consider pursuing an informational interview with librarians in institutions where you’re considering employment. Be sure to read our recommendations on informational interviews, but briefly, keep the appointments to less than 30 minutes, bring a resume, and schedule the appointment before applying for a position. What you hope to come out with from those interactions are ideas about what kinds of positions may be on the recruitment horizon at that institution, what the culture and values are of that institution, and what kind of qualities they’re looking for in their candidates.