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Coda to Candidates: After the Interview

Jenica has a post about applying to academic library jobs well worth reading by anyone in the job market. But in my head I’ve been writing the following post for a very long time… so out with it.

Once you have interviewed for a library position, you have established a relationship with that institution and its interview team that stays on your permanent record–yes, the one you were warned about in the first grade. Your paths may never cross again — at least that you are aware of — but you’ve now had an intimate encounter with a number of people who spent an awful lot of time asking themselves if you were the right person for that position.

Perhaps you walked out of the interview and thanked Baby Jeebus you had the common sense not to work for those nut jobs. Perhaps you downed a quart of Rocky Road in a convenience-store parking lot on the way home, just so you’d stop crying, because you knew you blew it.

(Note: herein I break the narrative to state that I have never once believed I nailed the job interview–not ever.)

Perhaps you just had a big ol’ bucket of meh when you walked out of there — nice people, but not a fit for you or for them. Or maybe you immediately had another interview for the AMAZING LIFE-CHANGING JOB, and the other position pales in comparison.

Regardless, do the following:

* Write a thank-you letter, immediately. You can do it by email or you can do it by hand, but write that note and thank the head of the interview team (at minimum) for the opportunity to interview. Yes, even if you think they are all devil-worshippers, or even if you are completely dazzled by that AMAZING LIFE-CHANGING JOB. Write it. Now.

* Exercise patience. Everyone who interviewed you now has to recoup that time to catch up on whatever they didn’t get done during the interview process.

* File away your interview errata where you can tap it later. Like, possibly, decades later. Because they have it on file, too.

* Follow the guidelines for inquiring about the status of the position. You do not have to sit on your hands, but if they say email but don’t phone, then DON’T PHONE.

* Understand that in today’s litigious environment, the interviewer may not want to help you understand where your interview could have been better (I do get asked this question).

* Look for signs of an open door. If the head of the interview committee invites you to apply for future positions, take that at face value. You would be surprised how often interview teams see a quality candidate who isn’t a fit for a particular job and hope they can invite them back someday.

* Sometimes interview teams behave badly. Sometimes paperwork is lost or misdirected. Sometimes major life events interrupt the process. Regardless, under no circumstances should you write the interview team to berate them for not following up. (Yes, I have witnessed this.) If before you were forgotten, now you have made yourself completely unforgettable, and not in a nice way.  If a polite inquiry or two doesn’t do the trick, thank your lucky stars you aren’t working there, and press on.

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