As we all know, there are library jobs that suck and library jobs that don’t quite suck. When you’ve been offered a job, the important thing is figuring out which category it falls into, unless of course you’re absolutely desperate and your only other option is slowly eating yourself to death with generous helpings of chocolate and Twinkies, which seems to be the librarian’s preferred way to go.
But how can you know which category your proffered job is in? You certainly can’t trust the people interviewing you. If the job sucks, they won’t tell you the truth. If the decent folks tell you the truth, they know the bad big boss will terrorize and humiliate them the next day. So they smile their desperate smiles and cringe when you ask the hard questions. It’s all so sad. Oh, I suppose if you are perceptive enough, you can understand how much the job sucks by reading the fearful expressions on people’s faces or between the lines of people’s questions. "What are you looking for in a supervisor?" one might ask. "W-w-w-we j-j-just want someone who won’t beat us. Is that so wrong? If it is, I’ll prostrate myself before you! Don’t hit me, please!" Actually, I guess you don’t really have to read subtly between the lines on that one, but you get the idea.
So how can we find out more about the job? Easy. Libraries should give all job candidates the exit interviews of the previous person in the position. Yeah, right! You think that wouldn’t happen? Well, you’re mistaken on that one, and I know because this happened to me recently, and I’m sure glad it did. It’s the sort of thing that a "transparent library" would do all the time.
I know what you’re thinking. "AL, you’ve got the best library job in the entire world! Why are you applying for other jobs?" Of course you’re right that I have the best library job in the world. It’s no less than I deserve, after all. But still, there’s sometimes the feeling that maybe the grass is greener on the other side of the circulation desk. So occasionally, maybe once or twice a week, I interview for other jobs, mostly just for fun. I don’t know why I do it. I’m not going to take the jobs. Perhaps I do it for the free lunches and the chance to stand up in front of a group of librarians and tell them all about the future of whatever field of librarianship I’m applying for a job in. That’s always the most enjoyable part, because I just make up stuff and say it in a charming, perky way and everyone claps. It’s a good life.
However, before one of last week’s interviews, I actually saw the exit interview of the predecessor. They didn’t do this voluntarily, of course. It’s just that being the AL I have minions throughout libraryland, and I pulled strings, scratched backs, and fiddled with knobs and bob’s your uncle I had the exit interview. I give it verbatim below.
- What is your primary reason for leaving?
I couldn’t stand the smell anymore.
- What was most satisfying about your job?
- What was least satisfying about your job?
- What would you change about your job?
The director, the location, the clientele, the odor, pretty much everything.
- Did you receive adequate support to do your job?
You’re joking, right?
- Did you receive sufficient feedback about your performance between merit reviews?
I suppose so, if "Nice one, jerkoff!" counts as sufficient feedback.
- That sounds very encouraging to me. Did this library help you to fulfill your career goals?
It’s given me the incentive to move on quickly.
- That’s the sort of thing we like to hear. Do you have any tips to help us find your replacement?
- In general we don’t feel that God is on our side. Were you happy with your pay, benefits and other incentives?
I get that feeling, too. Can I leave now?
- Not quite yet. Were there any problems with your immediate supervisor?
Micromanagement is one thing, but the lojack and random drug tests were going too far.
- But we don’t conduct random drug tests here.
Then why the hell did she make me pee into a cup every week?
- There must be some mistake. We were told you liked to leave a cup of urine in her office every week. That’s the main reason we’re terminating your employment with us. Back to the questions. What could your immediate supervisor do to improve his or her management style?
Her immediate resignation and suicide would be a good start.
- We’ll pass that advice on to her. Based on your experience with us, what do you think it takes to succeed at this library?
Success isn’t possible. Drugs might help with survival.
- Would you consider working again for this library in the future?
You’ve got to be joking.
- We’re HR. We never joke. Would you recommend working for this library to your family and friends?
If you come anywhere near my family or friends, I’ll kill you.
- You’re not really in a position to make threats, are you?
You’re right. I meant that if you unlock these cuffs and come near my family or friends, I’ll kill you.
- That’s better. Can this library do anything to encourage you to stay?
You mean, besides the handcuffs?
- You’re seem to be as obsessed with those handcuffs as you are with your urine. We’ll just mark that down as a "no," shall we? Did anyone in this company discriminate against you, harass you or cause hostile working conditions?
Please let me leave. I’ll be quiet. I promise you.
- That sounds like a good place to stop. James, please unlock the cuffs. The interview is concluded.
I got the offer today. I think I’m turning this one down, too.