Saturday, 19 March 2011

Crowdsourcing and practical interview tasks (and YAY!)

I am very very happy this week for my friend Rosie, who had an interview at the Bodleian on Wednesday and got the trainee job at the Business School library! Yay!

I just wanted to share with you something I think is quite useful that came up when I was thinking about her going for this interview. Part of it was going to be a practical task, but that was all the detail given beforehand. I thought I'd do my best to help by asking the friendly library-folk on twitter what kinds of practical tasks they had experienced in interview. I thought I'd get a few answers back, but thanks to some retweets, I got loads of responses, many beyond my own network of followers. (I shouldn't be by now, but I am always surprised and very happy at how well twitter networks work in gathering information!)

There were some interesting tasks coming up, as well as the core few which kept cropping up. It's a handy little list to have so I thought I'd share it now that there's no danger of giving hints to the competition ;)

So here's the crowd-sourced list of interview tasks:
  • Sorting books by classmark - 9
  • Cataloguing books/edit catalogue record - 5
  • Finding works in the catalogue - 4
  • Give a presentation - 2
  • Searching databases - 2
  • Look up subject headings
  • Give an example instruction session
  • Find details of a print article from a bibliography
  • Write a blog post to teach students something about RSS
  • Fill in a referral form based on a transcript of a phone enquiry
  • Edit a text for spelling and punctuation
  • Copy typing (to demonstrate attention to detail)
  • Prioritise items in an in-tray
  • Compile a reading list using any of the library's resources
Obviously some of these wouldn't come up in a trainee interview, which is good because I can keep hold of this list and now I have some idea of what to expect in future interviews!


    1. A ha! Thought it was for a Bodleian interview. Great news - congratulations Rosie!

    2. This is actually really useful! Glad your friend was successful.

    3. I missed the Twitter discussion. One I've had (and have inflicted on candidates, I'm ashamed to say), is the in-tray exercise.
      The candidate is given a series of pieces of paper, each containing a message or problem. They then have to prioritise them, and suggest how they might handle them.
      As well as a good way of testing someone's ability to make rational decisions when faced with multiple tasks, it can be an interesting way for candidates to display an ability to think creatively.
      In the good old days this would be a real in-tray, with real pieces of paper. I suppose it might be possible to rig up a dummy e-mail in-box and do it electronically.

    4. Aah interesting! I had a similar thing in the interview I had for my graduate trainee job - they gave me a "nightmare day" scenario, with a list of things that are going on all at once, e.g. the phone's ringing, the photocopier has run out of paper and there's a queue of students waiting to use it etc. and asked what I would do.

    5. Thank you for a really useful post!
      When interviewing for librarian's posts, we've been asking to create a list of recommended resources (reading list) on any subject the candidates were comfortable with using any web 2.0 platform/tool. They were advised to find resources on any library catalogue, use our college e-resources and anything else the candidates deemed helpful. It worked very well.

    6. Thanks everyone for the comments, I'll add in any extra tasks people mention here!