I Have to Interview How Many People?!?

“Hey Boss?  We’ll be opening a new library soon.  Have you heard whether we’ll be able to fill our vacant positions,” I asked on a sunny June day.

“Of course we will,” she replied.  “We would be crazy to move into a new building that’s 3 times bigger without at least being fully staffed.”

I sent in my request to fill my vacant page positions.  Pages shelve the library’s materials (among other tasks).  The Library knew that this position was highly sought so they only accepted applications for 8 hours.  We all gasped when we heard that over 600 applications had been turned in.  After administering and scoring the written exam, those with vacant positions were told that the interviews would soon commence.

“We’re supposed to interview how many people,” I gasped.

“Eighty-three.  If we do them back to back at 15 minutes each and with an hour for lunch, we can spread them across three 8.5 hour days” the Human Resources Goddess replied.

I’d never interviewed anyone with the intention of hiring them before, so it was with great trepidation that I agreed to these terms.  I knew that I’d have two other Circulation Supervisors by my side, both of whom were veteran interviewers.

One August morning, our interviews commenced.  We started out with great energy: our smiles were wide and we looked like the type of people you’d like to work for.  By day three we were done, ya know?  We had every question memorized, our eyes were glazed over and we looked grumpy.

Frankly, I’m amazed that we all kept our sanity during those grueling three days of interviews.  We had people who had no idea how to answer some of our questions.  We had people who showed up in jeans and a t-shirt and others who dressed in business suits.  There were a couple whose answers were so listless that we were concerned they were falling asleep.  One lady interviewed with laryngitis.  Another lady cried and begged for a job.  That one broke my heart.

Compared to that experience – my first experience – all of the interviews I’ve given since have been a breeze.  I’m happy to report that we ended up finding some really great employees through those interviews, but three days is a long time to sit and ask the same questions over and over and over and over and…  well, you get the idea.

So that ends the story of my most memorable interview.

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2 Comments

  1. That sounds like the story of my life! I interview our internal team members for a living as part of a risk consulting position. It is tough to keep things lively and interesting after talking to 8-10 people a day. I feel your pain!

    So glad to hear you got some good folks out of all that! At least then it was worth-while.

    • I know you do! Because my positions are civil service positions, we have to ask everyone the exact same questions. We can’t even rephrase them to keep things interesting. It’s not so bad when you’re only talking to 5-8 people, but any more than that and it becomes really hard!

      It was definitely worthwhile and an excellent learning experience too!


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