Working as a librarian is a unique role and one that requires some key skills such as customer service, organizational intelligence, time management, and personable communication.
So if you’re looking to land a new job, the following librarian interview questions will help you be prepared and stand out in the interview.
Below, you will find 17 librarian interview questions that commonly get asked along with some sample answers and tips. Let’s get started!
19 Librarian Interview Questions + Answers
1. Why do you want to work as a librarian?
The interviewer will most likely ask why you are interested in being a librarian and how you got into this field of work.
- I love the idea of helping people become more educated, skilled, and generally foster their love of learning new things or spending their free time diving into new worlds.
- I am personally so happy when learning and appreciating new knowledge, so knowing that I can help others experience this joy is what I love about being a librarian.
2. Why do you want to work here?
This is about the specific library that you are applying for. The hiring manager wants to get a sense of how well you know the library, and how invested you are in its success.
Tips to answer this question:
- Research the library and look for interesting facts, history, etc.
- Get to know the council and the type of collection it has by browsing their site.
- Check public reviews (if they have some) to share about positive reviews you have found that make you hold this library in high esteem.
- Also, share any personal experiences that you have had at that library, and why you would like to contribute.
3. What do you believe creates amazing customer service?
Librarians are in the game of customer service – not just managing books and accounts. Share what your idea of great customer service is.
Great customer service is about doing all that you possibly can to listen to the needs of the customer and to help them fulfill those needs/desires.
This means empathetic listening, and a proactive mindset to problem solve your way to coming up with an answer and solution for what they want/need.
Also, sharing any personal recommendations of books, and being familiar with well-known writers helps me to help any age of reader.
4. How have you resolved a conflict/difficult situation with a customer?
This may happen from time-to-time, and the manager will understand this. Expressing your mode of conflict resolution is beneficial for the hiring manager to see that you have the competency needed to handle this were it to come up in your role.
Tips for answering this question:
- Speak about a specific example from your past and what you did to resolve the issue.
- Make sure that you focus on how the issue was resolved for the customer and their level of satisfaction from the resolution.
- If you don’t have an example, share how you would go about this situation, in a mature, mindful, and patient manner.
5. How do you handle stressful situations in general?
Though a library is a relatively calm environment, working for one can bring up stressful situations sometimes, when it comes to managing tasks and deadlines.
- It helps, when there are many things to do that could potentially overwhelm me, to tackle each thing one step at a time, reminding myself that there are many different ways to solve problems and sometimes a creative approach and a different perspective is needed.
- I like to focus by taking a deep breath, having some water, and knowing that ultimately, everything will be fine.
6. How would you handle helping students conduct research?
Since many students visit libraries to reference materials for their studies, the hiring manager would like to see if you are familiar with the process of helping point students in the right direction.
After speaking with the student to assess their topic of interest and needs, I would compile a list of sources that would be most helpful, as well as show them how to use the database, and if they need, physically point them to the right locations for finding what they are looking for.
7. What would you do to help create an inviting environment for patrons to promote learning?
Maintaining an environment that is supportive to students and professionals is one of the main focuses of a librarian. In the interview, if this question arises, be sure to share how you may go about making sure the atmosphere supports learning,
- I understand the importance of creating a warm, inviting environment by maintaining cleanliness, removing clutter, and adding touches like warm lighting, or natural light and air, as well as healthy plants and comfortable chairs in quiet areas.
- I have strong attention to detail and always feel better when the spaces around me are ordered and welcoming, and this makes me very aware of creating the same feeling for all patrons.
8. What are some of your strengths?
This is your time to shine! Reference key strengths that you know would make you an asset to any library.
I would say that my love for learning new things and my open mind to new ideas, topics, concepts, and systems are my strengths. Being able to share interesting and helpful information with patrons, as well as being open to learning a new system or technology method for my job is natural for me to enjoy.
9. What are some weaknesses?
Sharing that you understand that you are still growing is crucial for managers to know that they are hiring a rational and mature individual.
As I have such meticulous attention to detail, sometimes I can get lost in a task for a long time, wanting it to be perfect. So accepting that some things may need more time, or less attention, where there are other tasks to do, is what I am working on and growing in my role as a librarian.
10. How proficient are you in using technology?
As a modern-day librarian, you’ll need to know your way around technology to be suitable for any role.
I have a lot of experience using technology and feel very proficient in using databases, word documents, data management with different software, and more.
11. How do you stay current with the most recent new books?
This is important as you are not only there to help people use the database, but to actually be your own kind of database that understands what new books and topics are available to people.
- Through my memberships of online databases of different genres of books, I read reviews about best-sellers or new and noteworthy titles as they come up, almost daily.
- I use social media like Twitter, RSS feeds, and Facebook to learn about new releases or to find older titles that are relevant to current themes in the world.
- Additionally, I love to read a wide range of fiction and non-fiction which keeps me up to date on both sides.
12. How do you handle objections from patrons about certain books in the collection?
Though this is not common, it is one of the many librarian interview questions that might arise, so being prepared for it can help.
- I would politely respond that this library is impartial to all subjects, political matters, and religion and that we are the source for information, not the creators of it.
- I would share that we cannot get rid of books because of people’s preferences, as we understand that another person may want that exact book, with their own unique views and preferences.
13. What is one of your most rewarding experiences as a librarian?
Share a memory about a past experience that was positive and gave you satisfaction as being a librarian.
When I suggested a book to a customer, they later came back to tell me how much they loved the book, and are going to read all of the author’s works. This really feels great to know that my advice can have such a positive impact on someone’s search for knowledge.
14. What is the biggest challenge working as a librarian?
This may sound like a trick question, as it’s not as expected as others. Be prepared in case it comes up!
- I absolutely LOVE books, so balancing my desire to read them all, with knowing that I am working there to help others find what they need, is a challenge.
- Staying on top of the many patrons’ names and their past loans, by heart. Though the information is in the database, I love to be personable and remember them all. As a librarian, there are so many faces I see each day so the challenge of remembering everyone is something that I’m working my way through.
15. What is your availability?
This is a practical question that could come up towards the end of the interview.
Tips for answering this question:
- If you have flexible availability, share that there are no times off-limit in your schedule.
- If you have days/times where you definitely can’t work, share the details are as clear as possible, and be sure to tell them why you can’t work.
16. What is your ideal work schedule?
This question is about preferences in terms of when you work and how you’d like your schedule to look.
Tips for answering this question:
- If you have preferences for workdays, share them, while also expressing that consistent work is most important and you aren’t attached to having your preferences met if it isn’t possible.
- Ideally, you’d have no preference and are happy to work whenever needed. If that’s the case, share this with the interviewer.
17. Do you have any questions for me?
Asking questions in the interview will show that you are enthusiastic about this role.
- What defines a successful librarian, in your eyes?
- What does a typical day in this library look like?
- How do you describe the company culture of this library?
To get further prepared for your interview, you can also upskill further by checking out my other posts on Excel courses and Office 365 courses to help with library administration tasks.