Prepare for an Interview
As they said, "Resumes get you interviews, but interviews get you jobs." The importance of interviews is obvious. The interview questions for LIS professionals might include many about candidates' interpersonal skills and some core skill sets. You should prepare for some commonly asked human resource questions as well as questions about hard skills (refer to "LIS skills" section for details). When the day comes, dress professionally and be upbeat. Good interview manner will make you in a good position at the begining.
Some good resources may help you prepare for interviews.
Interview Questions: A List of Tested Questions
Indiana University Bloomington Libraries' list of common questions for an academic library environment.
Advice on Interviewing
Lisjobs.com collection of links and articles on the job interview for the information professional.
Knock Them Dead Job Interview Strategies, D. P. Roseberry.
Guess I don't need to introduce this book, because it's soooo famous.
Some common interview questions for LIS professionals:
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- Why did you decide to enter the field of library and information science?
OR What motivated you to seek a library degree?
- What kind of position are you looking for when you graduate?
- Why did you decide to apply for this position?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- List three of your most important/proudest accomplishments.
- What kind of work environment do you prefer?
- What motivates you? ALSO Have you used these motivators with others?
- How are you qualified for this job? OR What qualifications do you have
that make you think you will be a success at this job?
- What supervisory experience have you had?
- How would you characterize your supervisory style?
- What would you do about implementing the provisions of the American with
Disabilities Act (or some other new policy) in our library, and how would you
prioritize this among your other duties?
- The person in this position needs to be innovative and proactive. Can you
describe some things you have done to demonstrate these qualities?
- How would you rate your communication skills and what have you done to
- What do you feel is the place of bibliographic instruction in the library?
Have you ever taught in a classroom setting? Would you be comfortable teaching
- What else besides your school and job experience qualifies you for this
- What is your experience with collection development?
- What experience do you have dealing with academic scholars?
- What is your experience with automated systems and with computers in
- What have you read lately, and what are you reading now?
- While this position involves some specific skills (language, computer,
cataloging, etc.), it is more of a generalist position. How do you feel that
your background fits into this?
- What are the personal characteristics and qualities that you would bring
to this position that would be particularly helpful in fulfilling the
responsibilities of this position?
- Why did you choose X University for your graduate education in library and
- Tell us about yourself. ALSO Tell me about yourself -- why did you choose
this type of work?
- Tell us about X University's online catalog.
- What professional groups are you a member of, and how active have you been
in those groups?
- You have just had a short tour of this library. Did any aspect or anything
you saw or heard about this library surprise you? Would you change anything
about this library?
- Why do you think more students are going into public services than
- Tell us about your experience with online searching.
- How do you work in groups, and what experience have you had working in
- What appeals to you about this position?
- Why do you want to move to this area?
- How do you feel about providing general reference services for
undergraduates or for high school or junior high school students?
- What are some aspects of your present position that you like?
- What are some aspects of your present position that you dislike?
- What do you see yourself doing five or ten years from now? OR Where do you
see yourself going from here?
- What is your cataloging experience?
- What do you think a reference librarian's duties should be?
- Tell us about your subject background and about your coursework outside of
- How will your other experiences outside of librarianship aid you in this
- What is your opinion of X University's approach to holisitic
librarianship? How well is the system functioning?
- How are governement documents handled at X University?
- What is your interlibrary loan experience?
- What experience have you had using the Internet?
- Do you have the skills necessary to create and maintain our WWW home
- What do you see as the future of the Internet as a reference tool?
- How will libraries mesh use of print and electronic resources?
- What do you see as the budget implications of increasing use of electronic
resources in libraries?
- Can you install software on computers and perform basic maintenance on
- What courses (college/graduate school) did you find most satisfying? Least
- What would you say you learned from your college/graduate school
experiences that you see being carried over to your life today?
- Do you plan to continue your education?
- What kind of people do you like to work with?
- What kind of people do you find it most difficult to work with? What do
you do to improve the situation?
- Do you prefer working alone or in groups?
- Starting with your last job, would you tell me about some of your
achievements that were recognized by your superiors?
- What are some things you would like to avoid in a job? Why?
- What are some of the things on your jobs that you feel you have done
- What does success mean to you? How do you judge it?
- What are some of the things about your last job that you found difficult
- What are some of the problems you encounter in doing your job? Which one
frustrates you the most? What do you usually do about it?
- How has your present job developed you to take on even greater
- What do you have going for you that might make you successful in such a
- Who or what in your life would you say influenced you most with regard to
your career objectives?
- What would you say there is about you that has accounted for your fine
progress to date?
- What traits or qualities do you feel could be strengthened or improved?
- What motivates you to put forth your best effort?
- What kinds of things do you feel most confident in doing? Somewhat less
confident in doing?
- What are some of the thing you are either doing now or have thought about
doing that are self-development activities?
- Tell me about a time when you had work problems or stresses that were
difficult for you.
- Customers frequently create a great deal of pressure. What has been your
experience in this area?
- What types of pressures do you experience on your current job? How do you
cope with these pressures?
- Describe a time when you were under pressure to make a decision. Did you
react immediately or take time in deciding what to do?
- What types of things make you angry? How do you react?
- How do you react when you see co-workers disagreeing? Do you become
involved or hold back?
- Do you prefer to have a job in which you have well laidout tasks and
responsibilities, or one in which your work changes on a frequent basis?
- In your current position what types of decisions do you make without
consulting your immediate supervisor?
- What types of experiences have you had in dealing with difficult
- Describe a problem person you have had to deal with. What did you say or
- What have been your experiences in dealing with the general public? When
have people really tried your patience?
- What important goals have you set in the past, and how successful have you
been in working toward their accomplishment?
- Do you do personal planning? If so, what are your goals?
- What things give you the greatest satisfaction?
- How would you describe yourself?
- In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our department?
- What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
- Describe your most rewarding experience.
- In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?
- What do you know about our library? university? community? company?
- You mentioned you enjoyed your last job. What did you enjoy most? Least?
- Why do you think this library should hire you?
- What will your last supervisor tell me are your two weakest areas?
- If you were hiring someone for this job, what qualities would you look
- How do you feel about your ability to write, spell, and communicate? What
kind of feedback have you received about your writing ability?
- Describe your experience in creating documents, proposals, research
findings, or any other form of written copy.
- What does the term two-way communication mean to you? When have you
successfully used two-way communication?
- Some people get to know strangers quickly, while others prefer to take
their time letting people get to know them. Describe how you entered
relationships when you were "new" on a job.
- Some people have the ability to "step into another's shoes." When has this
skill been required of you?
- How did you organize your work in your last position? What happened to
your plan when emergencies came up?
- Describe how you determined your priorities on your last job.
- Describe how you schedule your time on an unusually hectic day. Give a
- Are you a person who likes to "try new things," or "stay with regular
routines"? Give an example.
- What is your philosophy of reference?
- What are your 3 (or 5) favorite reference books? OR If you were on a
desert idland, which 3 (or 5) reference books would you want to have?
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