Interview

17 Librarian Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a librarian, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Librarians play a critical role in our society by helping people find the information they need. They work in a variety of settings, including public, school, and academic libraries. To be a librarian, you need to have a master’s degree in library science.

Librarians are also responsible for managing library collections, developing and implementing library policies, and providing reference and research services. In order to be a successful librarian, you need to be able to communicate well, be organized, and have excellent problem-solving skills.

If you’re interested in becoming a librarian, it’s important to know what to expect in the interview process. In this guide, you’ll find common librarian interview questions and answers that will help you prepare for your interview.

Are you comfortable working with a diverse range of people?

The library is a place where people of all ages, races and backgrounds come together to learn. Employers ask this question to make sure you’re comfortable working with such a diverse group of people. They want to know that you can help everyone feel welcome in the library. Use your answer to show them that you are an empathetic person who cares about others. Explain how you would use your interpersonal skills to help patrons find what they need.

Example: “I am definitely comfortable working with a diverse range of people. In my last role as a librarian, I had students from many different backgrounds. Some were quiet while others were more outgoing. I always made sure to greet each student when they came into the library. This helped me get to know them better and understand their learning styles. It also showed them that I cared about their success.”

What are some of the most important qualities for a librarian to have?

This question can help the interviewer determine if you possess the necessary skills and abilities to succeed in this role. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a few of your strongest qualities that relate to librarianship.

Example: “I believe some of the most important qualities for a librarian are patience, organization and communication skills. Patience is important because I may need to answer many questions from patrons who have varying levels of knowledge about different topics. Organization is also essential because I will be responsible for organizing books and other materials within the library. Finally, good communication skills are vital because they allow me to work well with others and provide excellent customer service.”

How do you handle difficult patrons?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your conflict resolution skills. As a librarian, you may encounter patrons who are upset about the library’s policies or procedures. It’s important that you remain calm and respectful when handling these situations. In your answer, try to highlight your problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

Example: “I understand that some patrons may be frustrated with the library’s policies or services. I always make sure to listen carefully to their concerns and respond respectfully. If they’re upset, I try to diffuse the situation by calming them down and explaining our policies in more detail. I also encourage them to speak with my supervisor if they have any questions.”

What is your experience with managing digital resources?

The library is often the first place people go to find information, and digital resources are an important part of that. Employers ask this question to make sure you have experience managing digital resources in a library setting. Use your answer to explain how you manage digital resources in your current role or any previous roles.

Example: “I’ve been working with digital resources for five years now. I started out as a librarian at my local public library where I managed our online catalog. We had over 10,000 items in our catalog, so it was important to me to keep everything organized. I created a system using Excel spreadsheets to organize all of the books by genre, author and subject. This helped patrons find what they were looking for quickly.”

Provide an example of a time when you provided exceptional customer service.

Interviewers ask this question to learn more about your customer service skills and how you interact with others. They want to know that you can be helpful, friendly and empathetic when interacting with library patrons. In your answer, try to describe a specific situation where you helped someone solve a problem or find the information they needed.

Example: “At my previous job, I had a patron who was looking for books on astronomy. He asked me if we had any books on space exploration, but I didn’t have any in our collection. Instead of telling him no, I told him I would look online to see if we could order one. After searching through several databases, I found a book he wanted at another library. We ordered it, and he was very happy.”

If a patron approached you asking for a recommendation for a good book to read, how would you go about helping them?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you would interact with patrons and provide them with a service. Describe your process for helping patrons find books to read, including what steps you take to ensure they’re finding something that interests them.

Example: “I would first ask them what genres they enjoy reading and then search our database of books to see if we have any titles in those genres. If not, I’d use online resources like Goodreads or Amazon to find similar books based on their preferences. Once I found some options, I’d let them know about other databases where they could find more recommendations.”

What would you do if you noticed a fellow employee engaging in inappropriate behavior?

An interviewer may ask this question to assess your ability to report misconduct and protect the safety of others. In your answer, explain how you would handle the situation in a responsible way that upholds confidentiality while reporting any potential threats or violations.

Example: “If I noticed a colleague engaging in inappropriate behavior with patrons, I would first speak to them privately about my concerns. If they continued their actions after our conversation, I would report it to my supervisor so we could address the issue together. If I suspected someone was putting patrons at risk, I would immediately call security or law enforcement to ensure everyone’s safety.”

How well do you perform under pressure?

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your ability to perform well under stress. They want to know that you can handle a high-pressure situation and still complete the task at hand. In your answer, explain how you manage pressure and provide an example of a time when you faced a stressful situation and succeeded.

Example: “I am able to perform well under pressure because I have experience with it. When I was working as a reference librarian, I had to help students find information quickly while also answering their questions about research methods. This required me to multitask and prioritize tasks so I could get everything done in a timely manner. I learned how to balance multiple projects and requests from different people.”

Do you have any experience working with children?

Interviewers may ask this question to see if you have experience working with children and how well you can connect with them. If you do not have any experience, you can talk about your interest in working with children and what you would like to learn from the position.

Example: “I have worked with children for many years as a teacher, but I am excited to work with children who are more independent readers. I think it is important that children feel comfortable asking questions and learning new things, so I plan on being friendly and approachable. I also want to make sure they understand the importance of reading and research.”

When was the last time you updated your knowledge on a subject area?

This question can help interviewers understand how you stay up to date on the latest information in your field. It also helps them determine if you have a passion for learning and staying current with new developments in your industry. When answering this question, consider mentioning a specific instance when you took time out of your schedule to learn more about a subject area or skill that could benefit your work as a librarian.

Example: “I recently attended a webinar hosted by our local library system on digital marketing trends. I found it interesting and helpful to hear from other professionals who are working in the field. I plan to attend another seminar soon on social media best practices.”

We want to improve our outreach efforts. Describe one new initiative you would implement to increase library visibility in the community.

Library outreach is an important part of a librarian’s job. The hiring manager wants to know that you have ideas for how to improve the library’s presence in the community and increase its visibility among potential patrons.

Example: “I think it would be beneficial to create a new program at the library where we offer free computer classes on basic software, like Microsoft Word or Excel. I’ve seen this done before with great success, and I believe it could help us reach out to more people who may not otherwise use our services. We can also promote these events through social media channels to attract younger users.”

Describe your organizational skills.

This question can help interviewers determine how you manage your time and prioritize tasks. Use examples from past experiences to show the interviewer that you have strong organizational skills and are able to meet deadlines.

Example: “I am very organized, which helps me stay on top of my work. In my last position as a librarian at a local library, I had to organize thousands of books by genre and author. This was quite a challenge because there were so many books in the library, but I used color-coded labels to categorize them according to their genres and authors. After organizing all the books, I created an online catalog for patrons to search for specific books.”

What makes you stand out from other candidates?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their library. When answering, it’s important to highlight a skill or experience that makes you unique from other candidates. You may also want to mention something that relates to the job description.

Example: “I have been working as a librarian for five years now, but I am still passionate about my work. In fact, I recently earned my master’s degree in library science so I could expand my knowledge of the field. This shows that I’m committed to my career and always looking for ways to improve myself. It also means that I will be able to provide valuable insight and advice to patrons.”

Which computer programming languages are you familiar with?

The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have experience with computer programming languages. If you do, they might want to know how you use them in your work as a librarian. You can answer honestly about which languages you’re familiar with and explain what you’ve used them for.

Example: “I’m most comfortable using JavaScript, HTML and CSS. I learned these languages when I was taking online classes at the local community college. I wanted to learn more about web development so that I could help my patrons find information on websites. I found it helpful to understand some of the basics of coding because many people don’t realize that libraries offer free coding resources.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of customer service?

Customer service is an important part of working in a library. Interviewers ask this question to make sure you understand the importance of providing excellent customer service to patrons. In your answer, explain what makes good customer service and how you would apply that skill to your role as a librarian.

Example: “I think one of the most important aspects of customer service is being able to listen to customers. I believe it’s important to be empathetic when helping people find information or resources. For example, if someone asks me for help finding a book on a specific topic, I will try my best to remember their interests so I can recommend other books they might like. This shows them that I care about their needs and want to provide them with the best possible experience.”

How often do you perform inventory checks?

This question can help interviewers understand how you keep track of materials and ensure they’re in good condition. It also shows them your attention to detail, which is important for a librarian who needs to make sure all books are where they should be at any given time.

Example: “I perform inventory checks every two weeks or so. I find that this frequency allows me to check the library’s resources while still allowing plenty of time between checks for new items to arrive. If there’s an item missing during one of my checks, I’ll immediately put out a call for it and mark it as lost until someone returns it.”

There is a growing trend of people using our library’s computers for personal use. How would you address this issue?

This question is a great way to assess your interpersonal skills and ability to manage conflict. Your answer should show that you are willing to address the issue with patrons, but also how you would encourage them to use the library for its intended purpose.

Example: “I believe it’s important to have an open conversation with patrons who are using the computers for personal use. I would explain why this practice is not allowed in our library and offer alternatives such as printing from home or accessing the internet at home through other means. If they continue to use the computer for personal use after my initial warning, I would ask them to leave the premises.”

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