|Posted by Tiffany Newton on November 24, 2013 at 11:10 AM|
I had an interview a while back for a library director position. It was a very interesting interview. There were five members of the library board, and the current library director. When I first walked in and told the woman at the front desk who I was, she welcomed me then walked me over to the area where the interview would be. I wasn’t sure if she was on the search committee, but I was pleasant to her. This interview was several hours away from where I currently live, but was near family, so I had driven in a few days before and visited my family. On our over to the conference room, she asked me where I was from. When I told her, she asked how far away way that was, and if I had driven in that day. I told her I had come in a few days prior and had spent a few days relaxing. Then she asked about family. When I told her my parents and grandparents lived there, she asked their names. This was a very small town, and everyone knows everyone else. I still wasn’t sure if she was on the search committee, but I told her my grandparent’s names. I did not tell her my parents’ names, because my maiden name didn’t have a good reputation in the area, thanks to some uncles and cousins. She stayed there for a few minutes after I had sat down, just chatting. We spoke about hobbies, pets, and other fairly neutral questions.
About that time a few other women came in. They were the library director and three members of the search committee. The woman I had been speaking to was one of the library board members, and was on the search committee too. They mentioned that they were still waiting for someone else. While we were waiting, the first woman continued our conversation. One question that surprised me (in a way) was which church I attended. This is an off-limits question for an interview, but the interview hadn’t started yet. This was also in a very small town in the Bible Belt, and it is a common question asked when getting to know people. I had a choice. Do I mention something and not answer, or do I just answer and help her get to know me better? I had researched all the members of the library board prior to the interview. They each had a brief bio on the library’s website. They all attended church. I decided that was just another thing we’d have in common, and since she had been asking about my past, I told her that I grew up in a Baptist church. She mentioned something about how if I got the job, she wanted to invite me to her church, and that’s why she asked. I told her I’d be happy to visit her church sometime.
The other ladies then asked about my drive in, and I once again mentioned I came in a few days ago, and once again, they asked about family, and once again, I told them my grandparent’s names. They didn’t seem to know them, which was surprising to me because my grandparents have lived there for at least 50 years, and most everyone knew them. About that time the last woman came in and we began the interview. They asked standard questions, including technology, collection development, weeding, supervising questions, etc. The first woman, every once in a while, asked strange questions, like “If we offered you the job, would you give your two weeks’ notice at your current job?” Well of course I would, if I had a job, but I’m currently unemployed. I would need a few days to pack up my stuff and move here though. I didn’t mention my husband, and how he’d have to give two weeks’ notice at his job, but if necessary, I could move there and stay with my parents for a few weeks while my husband finished working.
A while later she asked “Do you like living alone?” I was a bit surprised at this question, because I don’t live alone, and never implied I did. She knew I had a cat, because I had mentioned it before. As I stumbled over how to answer the question, one of the other women asked, “I think she means pets?” So I again mentioned I had a cat, but the first woman asked if I’d be lonely with just my cat. Well of course I would, but I would meet enough people at work, and I could go out with friends to socialize. About that time, she noticed my wedding ring. This opened up whole different can of worms. She asked about where my husband worked, if he would give a two weeks’ notice, if he would stay there working, or move with me and try to find a new job. When I mentioned he was willing to work anywhere, even McDonalds, they all thought that was the sweetest thing. Finally, about this time, the late interviewer spoke up and told her that she was asking “illegal questions” and she better stop.
A while later, when the late interview had to step out to use the restroom, the first woman asked, “Can I ask how long you’ve been married?” Another woman stopped me and said I don’t have to answer. I told her I wouldn’t mind, and told her that I’ve been married almost two years. One of the only reasons I did that was because they had mentioned previously that I was fairly young for a director. I thought if I mentioned I was married, and had been married for a few years, they might see me a bit older and more experienced.
I don’t think my answers to these questions hindered my interview, in fact, I think the interview went very well. I connected with these women in a way that others might not, because I answered their questions honestly, even the “illegal” ones. However, it’s up to you how you answer the questionable questions. Interviewers are not supposed to make decisions based on your religion, marital status, age, and other protected classes. You can find more information about this from the EEOC: www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/
Categories: Job Hunting