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My Least Favorite Interview Question

I've alluded to the fact that I've been interviewing for librarian positions near my new home and someday when I'm not feeling so discouraged maybe I'll write more about the challenges of searching for a job in my particular area in this economy, etc., but for now I have to tell you all about my least favorite interview question.


I realize that I'm probably being a little oversensitive here and I fully admit that this is my particular pet peeve and probably not shared by the general population. Still, I just have to get it off my chest.


What makes you the best candidate for this position?


I know this is a pretty standard question and as easy to prepare for as "What's your biggest weakness?", so I always have a prepared answer for it, but I wouldn't be surprised if I often bomb it because it's so hard to keep my hatred of this question under wraps.

My hatred of this question is very specific to librarianship. I got into this field in part because it so cooperative and not cutthroat. I love how much help I've received from other librarians throughout my career because I'm the kind of person who is just as likely to give such help when asked. And frankly, the heart of what we do is helping other people. I don't care how much you love books, if you don't like helping people, you won't last long in this profession.

In a cooperative environment you get really good at figuring out your coworkers' strengths because you routinely seek them out to add their strengths to what you're doing and they similarly do the same thing with you. I'm used to figuring out what makes my colleagues special, so asking me why I'm more special than the other people being considered for this job feels so against the cooperative teamwork ethic that permeates this field.

I'm perfectly fine telling you why I'm a good, great, excellent, or even perfect fit for this job, but when you phrase it in a way that compares me to the other candidates for the position I can't stand it, because it's inherently unfair. I have no idea who else is up for the job, so I don't know what talents they have in comparison to mine. Besides, even if I did, I don't like picking people apart to make them look small so that I can look big. I should be able to stand on my own as an excellent candidate and I will tell you how awesome I am and where my biggest strengths lie, especially in relationship to the duties of the position you're considering me for. So what's the point of bringing the other people in the job search into it.
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