Being Yourself

The last assignment for library school is complete, and I am waiting for graduation ceremonies in a week, and a diploma in the mail in the coming months. I am applying for jobs, as I have for some time, but now paying more attention to advice about interview questions and resumes.

When I hear something two or three times in the same week, I tend to take it as a lesson. I heard one question raised by other students, both in my final class meeting and in a Career Center webinar: Should I be myself in a job interview? It’s so easy to get trapped in second-guessing what the hiring committee is looking for, trying to fit into the right mold to be the one they will want. But professor Aaron Schmidt and SJSU SLIS Career Center Liaison Jill Klees were both very clear on this

  • Yes, be yourself.
  • You’re interviewing them too.
  • You need to find out if this is a job you can live with and even love.
  • If they can’t tell who you are, you might end up miserable in the wrong job.

Last weekend, I went to a retreat in the redwoods. In a small group, we were each asked to respond to the Howard Thurman quote:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The question posed to us was: What makes you come alive? I felt great energy and joy, and connection to the other people in the room, in sharing what I love about serving people in libraries.

Of course, I found myself wishing that such a question would be asked of me in job interviews. It occurs to me now that I should be asking myself (and answering in interviews) what would make me come alive about a particular job, even if that question is not on the hiring committee’s list. And when they ask if I have questions, perhaps I can find a professional version of that question to ask them.

What makes you come alive?