Thursday, November 3, 2011

Preparing For a Library Job Interview

Preparing for a library job interview is much like a business interview. Researching the company/organization for information, practicing your answer for a 5 Year Plan or 30/60/90 day plan, providing ideas for projects/programs, and giving suggestions for budgeting or managerial problems. However, when it comes to specific libraries (academic, public, special, law, medical, etc) the jobseeker is wondering what questions might be asked concerning his/her area of expertise.

While preparing for my own interview I found some great resources that I thought would be helpful. Please scroll to the bottom of the post for general interview questions that should not be overlooked or for those of you not in the library field. Plus, a check list. Perfect for remembering to stay focus and cover all the important bases to prepare for your interviews. For information about searching for jobs, please check out my previous post Unemployed Librarian (resources and tips for searching for jobs (recently updated 01/17/13).

Library Interview Questions

Library Interviewing
Nailing the Library Interview by Mr. Library Dude (Joe Hardenbrook).

The best resource I found for overall library interviewing tips.
This page spotlights:
·  Suggests questions that YOU might want to ask of potential employers (don’t forget: you’re interviewing them too!), and
·  Interview pitfalls to avoid”

Job Interviews: What You Wish You’d Known [INFOGRAPHIC] by KATE D'AMICO on OCTOBER 25, 2011.

Good visual with statistical information for how your appearance really does matter.
“Job interviews are tough — before, during and after. How do you prepare? How should you act during the interview? When and how do you follow up? For some great advice, see these articles: Interviewing Etiquette And Best Practices, Remaining Professional Before, During & After An Interview, and 10 Interview Questions That Are Out Of The Ordinary.”

Academic Interview Process by Nanako Kodaira.
Provided on the New Members Round Table Resume Review Service. Provides information in the following areas: Interview Process and Nifty Tips for Academic Libraries, Miscellaneous Interview Tips, General and Position Specific Questions.

“A teacher completing her MLS recently wrote on LM_NET that she was worried about getting a job after graduation. With all the gloom and doom on listservs and blogs, she wanted advice on how to succeed in these tough economic times. Do I have any advice? You bet.”

Academic Library Job Search Blues- An insider's notes for new librarians and library school students by Sarah Baker, Education Librarian/Assistant Professor, New Mexico State University-- Library Journal, 09/09, 2010.

Job search tips and interview questions.

Surviving Your First Library Job Search or, What I Had To Learn the Hard Way, Reproduced Here, for You, So That You Are Not Driven To Drink as Well  By Steven Hoover-- Library Journal, 09/15/2009.

A Library Journal article that is worth a read as well.
“Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a little better sense of what to expect during your search, pick up a few tips, and generate ideas for coping strategies that might help you survive long enough to find a job.”

How to Interview for Your Dream Law Library Position by William Logan, MLIS Law Library Program Alumni 2002.

He even includes what to bring to hotel, on flights, what to do over the phone. Good for all areas to pick up a few tips, not just law librarians.

Basic Questions & Check List

Don’t forget to also review basic interview questions (not just library related) to be fully prepared. I highly recommend reading’s Job Interview Questions and Best Answers by Alison Doyle. She outlines important information by: Work History, About You, About the New Job and the Company, The Future, Candidate Specific, Behavioral, Tough Interview Questions, Interview Questions to Ask, Compile Responses, and a place to Add an Interview Question (If you have something that is not previously covered).

Since it’s on the areas covered by the outlines re-navigate to other links that provide more information. If the website becomes a little too jumpy, take a break. A negative to is that it provides too much information, linking from one page to another, which can lead to the user feeling overwhelmed or going in circles. However, the information is good information so please don’t overlook that fact.

And just when you think you are ready, be sure to double check. Doyle provides a great Check List of 10 important things that should not be over looked.

* Update 01/13/2013: Since this page has become popular I thought I would add one more source, the ALA Career Development Resource page includes:

  • ALA JobLIST Placement Center
  • Conference Workshops
  • Career Assessments
  • Cover Letters
  • Interviewing
  • Job Hunting
  • Negotiating
  • Networking
  • Professional Portfolios
  • Publications
  • Resumes
  • And Salaries


  1. Most importantly, you will need to demonstrate your qualifications and skills, which are required for the job you are applying for. The job skills that you have acquired in the past may not have been for the same exact job.

  2. Thanks for sharing this tips I really need to know more about this because I found an Australian careers that has a lot of job vacancies that are really available.