What to Ask at a Job Interview: Ace the (Library) Interview, Part 4

Don’t know what to ask at a job interview?  Chances are your potential employer is going to expect some intelligent questions.  Thanks to a smart colleague, I am fortunate to be in possession of a list of great interview questions asked by candidates at numerous library job interviews.  This individual collected the good questions that she heard at interviews–both as a candidate and interviewer–and shared them with me.  Over the past couple of decades I have added to the list.  Now here they are, shared publicly for the first time:
  • What one word describes the atmosphere here?
  • What is the most important or most pressing issue for you related to the library?
  •  What library resources do you personally use most?
  •  What qualities do you look for in library staff at any level?
  •  How do faculty use the library?
  •  Please describe the communication flow within the library, between departments (e.g. formal, informal, talk, meetings, etc.).  How does this translate to workflows?  How could this be improved?
  •  How do committees work within the library?
  •  Who is your ideal candidate for this position?
  •  What is a key quality for someone to succeed in this position?
  •  What is the most crucial skill/personality trait for someone to succeed at this position?
  •  How does the collection development process work?
  •  If someone has an idea, for instance about a possible process or procedure improvement, how is it usually introduced?
  •  Once a change is made how is it implemented with staff?
  •  Could you describe the interaction with various libraries at XXX?
  •  We have all worked at different libraries—what makes xxx different?
  •  What are some qualities of supervisors here or elsewhere with whom you have worked which you think are valuable?
  •  How often are intralibrary meetings held—for supervisors? for all staff? within departments?
  •  With small staff, limited resources, etc., what are some ways to keep everyone going when things are really busy?
  •  What is the support for professional activities and involvement?
  •  How would you describe [boss]’s management style?
  •  What responsibilities do you envision this position undertaking?
  •  What is important for new employees at xxx library to know?
  •  What are the most important skills to have here at xx library?
  •  What are the projects or goals for the upcoming year library wide?  What are they for [role you are applying for]?
  •  What are the top issues facing the library this year?
  •  What is your management style?
  •  How do you keep morale/motivation up?
  •  Where does the process go from here?
  •  What is the library’s five year plan?  What is [boss]’s five year plan for the department/division?
  •  What are the library/department’s top projects at the moment?
  •  Any other positions which were created and filled recently?
  •  Qualities or one significant quality of successful [position you are applying for] in the past here?
  •  What projects or roles would you like to see [position you are applying for] take on in the next year? beyond?

This list is by no means meant to be comprehensive, but rather should get candidates thinking about what to ask at a job interview.  Got any other great questions I have missed?  I would love to hear them.

 Continue to Part Five:  Common Interview Questions

This is the fourth in a six part series that provides useful tips for interviews. Although provided in the context of interviewing for professional library jobs, the information in this series has application for other industries as well.

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