WILL UNWOUND #691: “Tavern Talk – Play it Safe or Go For Broke?”February 27, 2012
Note from Will: Today I am starting a new feature: “Tavern Talk.” In my speaking travels everyone tells me how much they enjoy following the various comment threads inside the Unwinders Tavern. They all agree that the comments are what make this blog unique in Biblioterra. I agree completely. You Unwinders are absolutely awesome in articulating insight and humor. I love you guys! One thread that I was particularly fascinated with was all about the best way to interview for a library job. The discussion wasn’t just theoretical because the Unwinder in question, Lara, had a real live interview staring her in the face.
What is the best strategy for an interview and does it matter if you are just out of library school and interviewing for an entry level position or you are in mid career and interviewing for a promotional opportunity? Does it matter if you are interviewing before a search committee or a single hiring authority?
These questions arise because of this comment from Unwinder Lara a few days ago in response to a post about Power Point Presentions: I’m in total agreement that Power Points are death to most presentations and I avoid them where-ever I can. However, I have an interesting problem. Tomorrow I have an interview for a librarian position and I have to give a presentation. I strongly considered not using power point, until it occurred to me that that might be exactly the thing that they might be testing: my ability to use power point. So should I power point? Or not?
It seems to me that there are two basic strategies one could follow: play it safe or go for broke.
The first was nicely articulated by Unwinder Ken in his follow up comment: Go for it [the Power Point]! And, I’d use some of the great comments that have been posted…ie., keep what’s on them short and to the point, use bulleted items – your main points/ideas, charts are great. Screen shots of websites are effective. Avoid the cute kittens, and most of all, avoid Prezi. Use an air mouse – don’t be tied to the keyboard.
My response was to advocate the go for broke strategy: Lara, I would really think long and hard about this. If you think a power point is expected and will help you get the job then as Ken says read today’s comments and do an effective powerpoint. On the other hand, if you think they are looking for an original thinker, then get creative…finger puppets, felt boards, even action figures. I hired an assistant city manager because he used action figures to explain the importance of each of the 12 city departments. The thing is most librarians (especially in admin) are down the middle people so beware, this could backfire, but if there are a zillion other applicants, it might be worth the gamble.
Then Unwinder Cristy gave some very savvy practical advice to Lara: Ask who you should speak to about A/V arrangements. If they are surprised you asked, they’re not expecting a Power Point or any other A/V presentation.