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Best interview questions for your hiring process

Librarian Interview questions

A librarian is a person who mainly focuses on managing, maintaining, and organising libraries. They will be great communicators and a strong member of the community.

These are the most important skills to look for in a Librarian:

  • Extremely organised and detail-oriented 
  • Passion for the community
  • Knowledge and experience working with database systems
  • Clear communication skills
  • Experience hosting community events

Interviewing a Librarian

Librarians need to have great organisation skills, as well as strong communication skills, to provide the community with the help they need within the library. The best way to test if your potential Librarian can do this is with a great interview process.

To help you achieve this, we’ve put together a selection of interview questions that will test the necessary Librarian skills.

How to open the job interview

Even the most talented Librarian may get a little nervous before the interview starts. In order to fully understand a candidate’s personality and skill set, it is crucial to make them feel comfortable during the interview process.

This can be achieved by starting the conversation off with a few fun inquiries to get the interview going naturally.

Best interview questions for your hiring process

See our Librarian job description here

For the interview

A positive opener to start

What do you enjoy most about working in a library?

Why did you choose a career as a Librarian?

Behavioral Questions

Name a time you changed the way a part of the library was organised that had positive results?

A Librarian who can use their initiative and change the way things work (for the better) is a huge asset to the community.

Tell me about the most challenging encounter you have had with a member of the public, how did you overcome this?

As with all roles that involve working with the public, your Librarian may encounter a few difficult characters. Knowing they’ve experienced this and have tried and tested techniques to overcome these situations is excellent.

Tell me about a time you couldn’t find a resource that an individual requested. What did you do next?

Libraries have limited resources, and it may happen from time to time that your Librarian can’t find a resource that someone wants. Here, you’re looking for rapid problem-solving, your candidate can mention requesting the resource from a partner library or ordering it in for the person.

Talk me through a time when you had trouble understanding a task? How did you overcome this?

Librarians should have excellent research skills, your candidate should mention using resources such as guides, videos, or asking experts for help with their task.

Soft Skills

When working through a large set of data entry, how do you stay motivated?

Librarians will often work alone, so your candidate must be a self-starter with great motivation techniques and the ability to stay driven when performing repetitive tasks.

What steps would you take if you received a negative review from a visitor to the library?

Again, a Librarian needs to have great motivation and initiative. They should inform the individual that they will act on the feedback points, and then turn the review into steps for improvement.

What skills do you have that are important as a Librarian?

This Librarian interview question gives the candidate a chance to show off, they may list hard or soft skills they believe will aid them in the role.

When working with different community groups, how do you ensure their needs are all being met?

Communication skills are important for a Librarian, they may mention checking in with certain community groups, providing feedback sessions for the library, or running surveys to see how the library can improve.

Hard Skills

Which library filing systems or databases have you worked with?

If your library uses a particular organisation system, it is good to know whether your candidate has experience with this or if they will need to be onboarded with it.

How would you use technology to improve services at a library?

Here, your candidate can mention anything from running online surveys, a mailing list, or social media accounts.

Do you have any experience organising events for a library?

In some communities, the library is a community centre where events can be held. Knowing whether your candidate has experience with this is useful beforehand.

Do you have any specialist research experience?

Especially in academic libraries, a Librarian can help to find resources for those who use the library. Knowing whether your candidate has these skills can be a huge plus for your hire.

Are you experienced with working with students or pupils?

Again, if your Library is part of an educational institution knowing whether your candidate has worked with children or student before is important.

Operational / Situational Questions

If you were tasked with crafting a new section or display for the library, how would you go about this?

Here you’re looking for a candidate who prioritises their community. They may choose to craft a topical display, based on upcoming events or to highlight an area they have noted their community is particularly interested in. This is also a chance for them to spotlight their creativity. 

If you noticed a patron in the library had been wandering around for a while and seemed to be struggling, what would your next steps be?

A Librarian is always on hand to assist community members, they should waste no time in approaching the patron to see how they can help them.

Imagine a patron is annoyed that they can’t find a title they want, how would you de-escalate the situation?

Here a candidate has the chance to highlight their communication skills, they should calmly explain the steps they’ll take to help the individual with their search.

If you were to join our team as a Librarian, what would your first steps be?

The Librarian should mention learning the organisation system, familiarising themselves with team members and the community, and learning any technology used in the library.

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