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Personnel

How to hire a library tech: Part 3 (The Interview)

17th October 2013

Part 3: The Interview come in we're hiringAs a followup to the Head Meets Desk posts, I asked techs and administrators from around the Web to send me their best advice on hiring IT staff for a library.  What follows, here in Part three, is the advice received from both administrators and library techs, specifically on items relating to IT staff candidate interviews.  (See Part One here and Part Two here.)

***If you have anything to add here, please post it in the comments!***

 

 

  • I have been using this excise to test the communication skills of library tech interviewees. I had a friend show this to me done as a two person excise, unfortunately I have not found any web references to the two person version but here are links to the multi person version. http://www.csbsju.edu/selt/selthistory/12-7-00/lego-replication.htm   http://www.mftrou.com/communication-skills-game.html
  • I started requesting writing samples along with the resume/cover letter.  In previous jobs, I lost a lot of time trying to translate from the chicken scratch various coworkers would send out trying to explain important events with the network.  It also gives me a chance to see if they can communicate, not only in English, but in a manner that non-techs can understand.
  • Depending on the open position, dress may be office casual. Inform the candidate in advance of what you expect for the interview. If the dress is not close to that, question why.
  • Create a comprehensive interview process, don’t just wing it.
  • If you lack technical experience ask someone in the staff, board, community, friend, etc. to sit in. There is no written rule that you need to do it alone.
  • Create a somewhat friendly interview environment. Maybe just sitting at a small round table. You don’t want to over intimidate the candidate. A little is good to see how it’s handled.
  • Before starting turn on your male bovine manure meter.  Some meter activity is probably okay, but your socks should stay dry.  Just remember they will have a similar meter running on you. You are being interviewed too.
  • After the introduction mention the highlights of what you will cover.
  • The candidate may be nervous but should look you in the eyes most of the time.
  • Is the candidate able to handle speaking to more than one at a time?  At some point have them meet 4 or 5 people in a relaxed environment.  Introduce Jim, Mary, Bill, Ann and have the candidate “take a couple of minutes to introduce yourself”.  You are looking for self assurance and how comfortable with strangers.  They may all need to work together so afterwards get their input.See if they can communicate on a social level.
  • At some point have the candidate explain some procedure you know how to do. Something like: “I turned on the PC and it sounds like it’s running but the screen doesn’t show anything. What should I do?” You are looking for a logical troubleshooting procedure and if they can ‘see’ without needing to be there.
  • You might ask them to write some 5 or 6 line procedure. Look for clarity of thought and decent handwriting. Even though we all use PC’s, many times a note is faster.
  • Ask if they have provided training, chaired meetings, been on committees, etc. Are they comfortable in the spotlight?
  • Before getting to deep in testing, make sure what you want to do is legal. You don’t want the ACLU calling on you for a rights violation.
  • Give then a tour and ask for questions and suggestions for changes. The candidate should have something to say. It might give you an idea if they will be a self-starter.
  • Have them describe their last position somewhat to get a feel for their capabilities.
  • Ask them to go over some troubleshooting (good or bad) that they’ll always remember.
  • Technical experience is key. If you don’t have technical experience, it’s way too easy to get snowed by someone who *sounds* like they know what they’re talking about but who is basically making stuff up. If you don’t have the technical experience yourself, try to get people on a committee that do. Hard, I know, especially if you’re in a small system, but really essential.

Coming up next:  How to Hire a tech:  Part Four (Warning Signs & Final Advice)