Welcome to the fifth installment of Ask PEGA, an advice column for all PEGA-SIS members. Just a reminder all questions can be submitted here and will be answered on a rolling basis by our anonymous pool of upper and middle managers from law libraries of all types and sizes.
Q: I am a brand new law librarian and I don’t have the connections and inside knowledge that I feel like a lot of other candidates do. How can I effectively prep for an interview when I feel like I am missing key information about the organization that you don’t get through the official channels?
A: Unsurprisingly, PEGA Mentors suggest research is the key to inside knowledge: First, do your research. Look at the library website, know who you are interviewing with, their responsibilities, their publications (read them if you have time). Play six degrees of separation with anyone you do know and use your librarian skills on your unofficial channels. Your classmates, or an alumni network might turn up someone with some experience at the institution — even as a student — that could be helpful. Ask any law librarian (or library school faculty/career development person) you do know about impressions of the place where you’re interviewing — even things like how often they seem to have jobs posted. Many library schools offer mentorship or alumni connection programs, so take advantage of those.
More than inside knowledge, our mentors stress the importance curiosity and asking questions in the interview process: prepare great questions for the interview itself focusing on the librarians, library, and institution. These types of questions will show your research and interest and give you something to ask about when people ask if you have any questions. Examples include:
- Why the person whose position you are interviewing for left?
- It says your title is this, that sounds interesting can you tell me more about that?
- I am interested in the way your organization is structured can you tell me why it’s that way?
For most positions, you’ll get an in-person interview if you’re a finalist — and this is as much you interviewing the employer as it is them interviewing you. So ask your questions! If you don’t ask questions, you may not seem to be interested in the job, so having real questions is a good thing.