Alchemical Thoughts

Some questions I would ask a potential boss

Posted on: January 15, 2009

We are in the process of hiring what is called an "Assistant Director for Research and Learning Services." I am not quite sure what that all entails, but I do know it means me getting a new boss (or rather "sub-boss," a layer between me and the library director). At any rate, we recently had a candidate on campus for that position. I had made some notes of possible questions I would have wanted to ask. I did not get them all answered, mostly due to time restraints. Anyhow, I figured I would post the questions here. They may be useful to someone out there in a similar position.

The questions (with some brief comments):

  • How do you–as a manager, administrator, or concerned professional–encourage, recruit, assist, and retain (younger) staff? (I added the "younger" mostly because I was reading something about generations and attracting young librarians to the profession. What I really would want to know are the views as applicable to all staff. Maybe should have left "younger" out.)
  • Management style/philosophy.
  • Communication style/preferences. (I am more of a face to face person. I hate using the phone, and I prefer using e-mail when it means I can't see someone in person. Other people have different preferences, thus the question.)
  • Views on the purposes of instruction, reference, and outreach. (This person is mostly to supervise and coordinate the reference, outreach, and instruction operations. This is my job, reference and outreach, and one other librarian, our instruction librarian. Thus knowing this answer would be crucial to us.)
  • Views and position on backing up library employees. (We get enough situations here where we have to enforce rules, and we need to know we will have someone watching our backs. Personally, I have been in situations where a supervisor did not have my back when it came to an unruly patron with an inflated sense of entitlement.)
  • What is the most difficult situation you've faced? How did you handle it?

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