20 New York Public Library Interview Questions and Answers

Prepare for the types of questions you are likely to be asked when interviewing for a position at New York Public Library.

The New York Public Library is one of the most iconic and essential institutions in the city. For generations, it has been a free provider of books, information, ideas, and education for all New Yorkers. As the library continues to evolve and grow, so does its need for qualified and dedicated employees.

If you’re interested in working for the New York Public Library, you’ll need to be prepared for their unique interview process. In this article, we’ll give you an inside look at some of the specific interview questions that New York Public Library uses to screen candidates. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to better prepare for your own interview and increase your chances of getting the job.

New York Public Library Interview Process

The interview process at New York Public Library can vary depending on the position you are applying for. For some positions, you may only have one interview, while for others you may have multiple interviews. Some interviews may be conducted over the phone, while others may be in person. Overall, the interview process is generally positive, though some applicants have found it to be disorganized or unprofessional.

1. Tell me about a time where you had to multitask, how did you handle it?

The New York Public Library is a large organization that requires employees to multitask and work in teams. Your answer should show the interviewer you can handle multiple tasks at once, communicate effectively with your team members and prioritize important projects.

Example: “In my previous role as an administrative assistant, I had to manage many different tasks for my manager while also helping other staff members when they needed assistance. I learned how to prioritize my tasks based on urgency and importance so I could ensure all of my responsibilities were completed by their due dates.”

2. What do you know about the New York Public Library?

The New York Public Library is a large organization with many departments and services. The interviewer may ask this question to see if you have done any research about the library before your interview. In your answer, try to include information that shows you are familiar with the library’s mission and history.

Example: “I know that the New York Public Library has been an essential part of New York City for over 100 years. I also know that it offers free books, computers, classes, events and more to all New Yorkers. I am excited to learn more about the different programs and services the library provides.”

3. What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?

This question is a common one in interviews, and it’s important to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses. When answering this question, try to focus on the skills that are most relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Example: “I am an excellent communicator who can work well with others. I have strong organizational skills and attention to detail. My weakness is my lack of experience working in a library setting. However, I’m eager to learn from experienced professionals and develop my skills.”

4. Are you able to work evenings and weekends?

The New York Public Library is open to the public for a variety of services, including book lending and research assistance. The library may ask this question to make sure you understand that working there will require evening and weekend hours. In your answer, try to show that you are committed to providing excellent service to all members of the community.

Example: “I am happy to work evenings and weekends if it means I can help more people find what they need. As someone who has worked in libraries for many years, I know how important it is to be available when our patrons need us.”

5. Why do you want to work at The New York Public Library?

This question is an opportunity to show your passion for the library and its mission. You can talk about how you’ve used the library in the past, what you like most about it or why you want to be a part of this institution.

Example: “I have always been inspired by The New York Public Library’s commitment to providing free access to books and information to all New Yorkers. I believe that everyone should have equal access to education and knowledge, and I would love to work at an organization that shares these values. In my last job as a librarian, I was able to help patrons find exactly what they were looking for, which made me feel like I was making a real difference.”

6. How would you deal with an upset patron?

The New York Public Library is a highly visible institution that serves as an important community resource. As such, it’s likely you’ll encounter patrons who are upset about something or someone. Your answer should demonstrate your ability to remain calm and professional in the face of adversity.

Example: “I would first try to understand what they’re upset about and then find out if there was anything I could do to help them feel better. If not, I’d apologize for any inconvenience and explain our policies clearly and calmly. In my experience, most people appreciate knowing exactly what to expect from an organization.”

7. Do you enjoy working independently or in a team environment?

The New York Public Library is a large organization with many departments and divisions. The library may ask this question to learn more about your preferences for working alone or in groups. To answer, think about which type of work environment you prefer and why. You can also mention that you are willing to do either depending on the needs of the job.

Example: “I enjoy both independent and collaborative work environments. I find that when I am working independently, I can focus better and get more done. However, I also really enjoy collaborating with others to solve problems and create new ideas. In my last position, I worked as part of a team to develop a new program for children’s programming. We all had different strengths and perspectives, and we used those to make the best decisions.”

8. Have you ever worked in a library before?

The New York Public Library is a unique library system that offers many different services. The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience working in libraries and how it relates to the position you’re applying for. If you haven’t worked in a library before, consider describing another job where you had similar responsibilities or skills.

Example: “I have never worked in a library before, but I do have experience as a librarian at my local public library. In this role, I helped patrons find books they were looking for, assisted them with computers and printers, answered questions about research topics and finding information online, and provided other support when needed.”

9. Describe how you stay organized on a daily basis.

The New York Public Library is a large organization with many responsibilities. The hiring manager may ask this question to learn more about your organizational skills and how you would fit into the library’s daily operations. In your answer, try to describe some of the methods you use to stay organized at work.

Example: “I am an extremely organized person who likes to keep my desk clean and my files in order. I have found that keeping everything neat and tidy makes it easier for me to find what I need when I need it. At my last job, I used color-coded folders to organize all of my paperwork and digital documents. This system helped me quickly locate important information and saved me time each day.”

10. Have you ever taught anyone anything?

The New York Public Library is a place where people can learn and grow, so interviewers may ask this question to see if you have experience teaching. If you do, they might want to know what you taught and how it went. If you don’t, you can talk about your desire to teach others in the future.

Example: “I’ve never formally taught anyone anything, but I love sharing my knowledge with others. When I was younger, I would always help my friends find books on topics they were interested in. I also worked as a tutor for several years, helping students understand difficult concepts.”

11. What is your philosophy of customer service?

The New York Public Library is a public service organization, so it’s important that all employees have a strong customer service ethic. Interviewers may ask this question to make sure you understand the importance of providing excellent customer service and how your past experiences can help you do so in this role.

Example: “I believe that every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to show them what makes our library special. I am always willing to go above and beyond for customers because I know they appreciate it and will tell others about their positive experience. In my last position, I helped a patron find a book on Amazon when we didn’t have it in stock. She was so grateful that she wrote a glowing review of the library online.”

12. Can you give us an example of when you collaborated and/or participated as a member of a team?

The New York Public Library is a large organization that requires employees to work together and collaborate with one another. Your answer should show the interviewer you are willing to participate in group projects, meetings, discussions and other activities where teamwork is required.

Example: “In my previous role as an administrative assistant at a small business, I was responsible for managing all of our company’s social media accounts. This included scheduling posts, responding to comments and questions from followers and creating new content for each platform. My team leader asked me to help create a marketing campaign for our newest product line, so I worked with two other members of our department to develop a plan.”

13. What are some of your hobbies outside of school and work?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your personality and interests. They want to know if you have any hobbies that are similar to the work you would do at the library, such as reading or writing. You can also use this opportunity to show how you might fit in with the team by mentioning a hobby they share.

Example: “I love to read, so I am always looking for new books to try out. I also enjoy going on long walks through the city to find new coffee shops and restaurants. I think these two things are very important parts of being a librarian because it helps me understand what my patrons like to read and where they like to go.”

14. How would you describe yourself?

This question is a great way to learn more about your potential new employer. The New York Public Library wants to know that you are passionate about the library and its mission, so it’s important to show how much you care about this institution.

Example: “I am an avid reader who has always loved libraries. I have been going to my local public library since I was a child, and I can’t imagine life without it. Libraries provide free access to books, information, computers, events and classes for all people regardless of their age or background. They are safe spaces where anyone can go to learn something new, find comfort and feel inspired.”

15. How do you feel about working in a fast-paced environment?

The New York Public Library is a busy place, and the interviewer wants to make sure you’re comfortable working in an environment with many people. Your answer should show that you are organized and can prioritize tasks effectively.

Example: “I love working in fast-paced environments because I am very organized and efficient at multitasking. In my last role as a librarian, we had a lot of patrons who came through our doors every day, so I got used to being able to help multiple people at once while still getting all my work done on time.”

16. Give an example of a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your problem-solving skills and ability to remain calm under pressure. When answering, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation that you faced and how you overcame the challenge or stressor.

Example: “When I was working as an assistant librarian at my previous job, we had a patron who would often come in and loudly read books out loud for his young daughter. This made it difficult for other patrons to concentrate on their work, so I approached him about the issue. He apologized but continued to do it again later that week. I spoke with him again and explained that if he did not stop reading aloud, we would have to ask him to leave the library.”

17. When have you demonstrated good judgment and logic in solving a problem?

The New York Public Library is looking for candidates who can use their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to help the library serve its patrons. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a time when you used your judgment and logic to solve a problem or challenge that helped achieve a positive outcome.

Example: “When I was working as an assistant librarian at my previous job, we had a patron come in who wanted to check out books on how to build bombs. We have policies in place to ensure our materials are available to everyone, so I asked the patron why they were interested in these books. They told me they were building a bomb shelter in their backyard and needed information on how to do it safely. After talking with them further, I realized they just wanted some basic instructions on how to build a safe bomb shelter. I directed them to other resources within the library that could provide more detailed information.”

18. How would you rate your computer skills?

The New York Public Library requires all employees to have strong computer skills. This question is an opportunity for you to show the interviewer that you are confident in your ability to use computers and other technology. If you have experience using specific software or programs, mention it in your answer.

Example: “I consider myself a very tech-savvy person. I’ve been using computers since middle school, so I am comfortable with most operating systems and applications. In my last position, I was responsible for maintaining our library’s website and social media accounts. I also regularly used online databases and research tools to find information for patrons.”

19. Can you tell us about the last book you read?

The New York Public Library wants to know that you’re a reader and that you enjoy reading. They want to see that you have an interest in the library’s mission, which is to provide free books and information for all New Yorkers.

Example: “I read a lot of nonfiction books about history and science. I’m currently reading ‘The Plant Paradox’ by Steven R. Gundry. It’s about how plants can be toxic to humans but also beneficial. The book explains why some plants are healthy while others aren’t.”

20. If we called your references, what would they say about you?

This question is an opportunity to show your interviewer that you are a good fit for the New York Public Library. You can use this time to highlight any skills or experiences that align with what they’re looking for in their candidate and explain how those skills will help you succeed in this role.

Example: “My references would say that I am highly organized, detail-oriented and passionate about providing excellent customer service. These skills have helped me excel in my previous roles as a library assistant and a bookseller at a local bookstore.”


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