Library Interview Questions

Commonly Asked Library Interview Questions

More miscellaneous questions…

Some of these I’ve been asked on interviews, and some I have asked to potential librarians/library staff.

Intro/Overview/Work History

  • Tell us about your work experience in libraries.
  • What made you decide to become a librarian?

About You

  • Give us your elevator speech — What should we know about you?
  • What do you think are the most relevant of your experiences and talents, given our stated needs for the position?
  • Tell us what you feel are your biggest strengths and your biggest weaknesses.
  • What do you think your references would say are your best skills and what might be some “areas for improvement”?
  • Name five adjectives that describe yourself?
  • What are your professional goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Anything else you think we need to know that we did not ask you?

About the Job

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why are you interested in this position and tell me a little bit about your work history?
  • What is it about our position that interests you the most?
  • Tell us about your long-term vision for the position.
  • Based on the job description, which of the duties do you feel most comfortable with, and which do you feel may take some time to learn?
  • What do you perceive as the biggest challenges in this position? What are the biggest benefits?
  • Earlier today, you had a short tour of the library. Did anything stand out to you or surprise you?
  • Tell us why we should hire you for this position.

About Past Jobs/Work Experience

  • What special aspects of your work experience have prepared you for this job?
  • Why are you interested in leaving your current position?
  • Describe your work experience in libraries or, more broadly, about any customer service experience you possess.
  • Tell us about something innovative you’ve done in your current job (or coursework, etc.).
  • In any of your working experiences, what have you done that you consider truly creative?
  • What’s one thing you really like about your current job and what’s one thing you wish you could change?
  • Are there things about your current job you find difficult or frustrating to do?
  • Describe a workplace experience where you initiated change. Outline the steps or process you took. What was the reaction of co-workers or library users? What did you learn?
  • What are some of your proudest accomplishments as a librarian?
  • What frustrates you the most as a librarian? And how do you go about fixing it/solving it?
  • From your other fields of work, what do feel is most applicable to being a librarian?

Leadership/Management

  • What management style do you prefer working with?
  • Describe your management style.
  • What do you think are the challenges of supervising employees and have you developed a management style?
  • Explain your philosophy for managing staff. This includes communication, autonomy, and professional development. What do you see as the different roles that the professional librarians and support staff play?
  • How do you like being managed? And what expectations do you have of your supervisor?
  • Tell us about your experiences supervising or training staff (or students, etc..).
  • How do you respond when someone says, “But we’ve always done it this way”?
  • What motivates you to succeed and how do you motivate others?
  • What types of budget experience do you have? What size budgets have you managed? How do you advocate for the library in terms of the budget?
  • Have you had experience balancing flat budgets and multiple demands?  How do you manage to be innovative within these constraints?
  • How do you go about marketing the library and advocating for it [in the community, on campus, in the school district]?
  • Describe a workplace conflict/issue you encountered and how did you go about resolving it.
  • Describe a situation where you initiated change. What was it and what steps did you take?
  • Describe a situation where you demonstrated particularly good resourcefulness or flexibility.

Organization

  • Can you describe how you schedule your time on particularly hectic day? Can you give a specific example?
  • This position requires you to prioritize workload, deal with interruptions, and multitask. So how would you go about organizing yourself on a particularly busy day?
  • Describe a situation where you had to meet a very tight deadline. What other things were you juggling? Did you meet the deadline?
  • Describe how you have planned and implemented a project.
  • Some of the job duties associated with this position are very technical and process driven. Can you tell us how you go about learning technology that you are not familiar with?
  • Describe your experience working with technology: hardware, software, programs, etc.

Collaboration/Teamwork

  • Can you give me an example of how you have worked with a group outside of the library? (e.g., student organization, local businesses, etc…)
  • Tell us about a time you worked successfully with [patrons, students, the community, local organizations] to complete a project or accomplish a goal.
  • Describe an experience you have had working on a team.
  • You will be new to [this library, this department, this school/community, etc]. Do you have any thoughts on how you plan to introduce yourself?

Philosophy

  • Describe your philosophy of librarianship.
  • In the library, how would you work to create an environment that is welcoming, inclusive, and increasingly diverse?
  • Explain your approach to customer service in [an academic, public, school, etc…] library.
  • What should be the library’s role in educating its [students, community, etc…]?
  • In your opinion, how has the role of the [academic, public, school, etc..] library evolved?
  • How should the library tie into the [university’s, school’s, community’s, etc…] goals, mission, and vision?
  • Tell us about your commitment to diversity and can you give us some practical examples?
  • What non-library organizations or businesses inspire you the most?
  • Can you tell us about your experiences with library assessment? This could be education, collections/resources, event programming, etc. Sketch us an overview of the role of assessment should play in [public, school, academic] libraries.

Judgment

  • Describe a failure you have experienced. What did you learn from it?
  • Can you describe a time when something you did at work didn’t go as planned, and what did you learn or what would you have done differently in hindsight?
  • Describe a time when you did everything correctly and still did not succeed.
  • Describe a time when a reference transaction did not go so well. Thinking back, how would you have rectified the situation.
  • Describe an experience dealing with a difficult patron and how did you go about resolving it?

Library School

  • Tell us more about your coursework in….
  • What’s the most important thing you learned in library school?

Professional Development/Reading

  • How do you go about developing as a professional and what support would you like to see from us?
  • How do you stay current with trends and developments in the profession?
  • What do you see as some trends for a library like ours?
  • What are some of the books you’ve read in the past few months?
  • Who are some of your favorite authors?  Favorite books?
  • Name a couple of books you’ve read recently (fiction or non-fiction) and describe them to us as if you were recommending them to a patron.

Scenario Questions

  • A local citizen is objecting to a book in the library’s collection, what would you do?
  • A patron complains because there are no free computers available. You notice that some kids are on Facebook, while others are typing papers and doing research. What do you do?
  • A patron complains that another person in the library “smells.” What do you do?
  • You’re working at a busy reference desk. You have one person standing in front of you needing help researching water pollution in local rivers, you have an instant message chat question, the telephone is ringing, and the printer is jammed. What do you do?

 

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  1. Pingback: Tips to Answering 5 Common Library Interview Questions – Mr. Library Dude

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