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Interview questions

It's the time of the year for hiring new library media specialists.

 (A little advice for job hunters.)

Find below the general list of interview questions we use in the Mankato Schools...

  1. Tell us a little about yourself. (Classroom teaching experience?)
  2. What do you consider the most important job of a media specialist?
  3. If I were to visit your last school, how would the students describe you?
  4. How would the other teachers describe you?
  5. What should be the relationship between the media specialist and the school principal?boybooks.jpg
  6. Describe one of your successful teaching lessons.
  7. How do you help apprehensive adults overcome their nervousness about technology?
  8. Describe what computer platforms you are comfortable with and what software you could teach. What is your experience with the Internet?
  9. What is the last new skill or new piece of technology or software you learned? When was that, and how did you go about learning it?
  10. What kind of atmosphere would you like to create in your media center?
  11. Describe a project or program that you have administered about which you feel proud.
  12. What experience do you have in seeking grants to help in the purchase of media center resources?
  13. How will you demonstrate that the media program is having a positive impact on student achievement in the school?
  14. What strategies would you employ to improve student reading skills?
  15. What is your philosophy regarding the filtering of internet sites?
  16. If you were the one selecting a media specialist, what professional and personal qualities would you look for?
  17. What kind of changes do you feel will happen in schools and in media centers in the coming years?
  18. Do you have questions for us?

Another interesting set of questions:

  1. What your job will be like ideally in five years? Answer honestly in ways that both fit your teaching style and personality as well as what you think is best for the students and teachers you serve. How will the media center be different than what it is now? What new resources and services might it offer? How will the skills you teach be different? How will the methods use to teach them be different? Under what conditions would a child come to the media center?
  2.  How would students describe your job? Why would they come to you for help?
  3. How would teachers describe your job? Why would they come to you for help?
  4. How would the principal describe your job? Why would he/she come to you for help?
  5. What kinds of things would you be doing that no one else in the building could do?

Add your favorite (or least favorite) interview questions. Any that truly stumped you?

Here is another thoughtful question suggested by Janet HasBrouck out in California:

How will you promote books to students who are so electronically and digitally charged?


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Reader Comments (13)

A great set of questions. Thanks for sharing!
May 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Utecht
As a librarian, the question that stumped me most was "Which do you think work best: rectangle or round tables?".

In my previous "lives", I think it was "Where do you draw the line between immoral and illegal?"
May 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLazygal
What blogs do you read?

Describe a creative solution you devised to solve a complex problem you faced.

May 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Harris
great questions!

What do you want students to learn and know how to do?

Can you describe some of the elements of inquiry or problem/project-based-learning?
May 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdemetri
Going for a job in a Library -

Interviewer: (putting a paper clip on the table in front of me) In one minute tell me how many different uses you can put this to.

Serious question. It wasn't a joke.
May 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret
Thanks for this.

Add some questions about collaboration with other staff such as:

Please describe a recent experience in which you collaborated with a classroom teacher?
May 31, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMS
Since I was a one-person-show at my school library, while I was interviewing, my stumper was, "What roles would you give your library support staff?"
May 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNJLibrarian

Thanks for sharing and tell me about yourself is the very standard question of all.
Cv interview questions

February 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersathyan

The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone. The above thought is smart and doesn’t require any further addition. It’s perfect thought from my side.
interview questions

June 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAadm

I would add 2 questions.

What are you currently reading? I ask that of anyone I am interviewing for any position in the library. I want reading to be a part of their lives. I was shocked when interviewing candidates for and LMS position how many people said they don't really read.

What two books would you want to make certain were a part of this library's collection, 1 fiction and 1 non-fiction, and if they weren't you would put them on your first order.


Hi Sally,

Interesting questions. Would you also ask in what format the teacher is reading the books? Why would you restrict your second question to just books and not broaden it to resources?

All the best,


April 29, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Hi Kathleen,

This is a great list of questions. I also might add one about classroom management/discipline and even give a scenario like "A student is loudly using inappropriate language while working in your library computer lab. How do you handle the situation?"

Other situations/scenarios to ask about could involve how to handle copyright issues. A good scenario might be "While walking to your mailbox one morning you notice a poster advertising an event sponsored by the school's recycling club. It says they are showing the movie Dark Knight in the auditorium after school. After asking the staff member in charge you discover that they did not obtain permission for a public showing. What do you do?"

And here is another one that really happened to me, and similar situations since:

"A Language Arts teacher regularly brings her class into the library for students to read silently and check out more books if needed. During this activity the library is mostly silent because the teacher has excellent classroom management and the students love to read. An administrator walks into the library and starts chatting with your library aide, and the volume is quite loud. The teacher comes up to you saying that the students want it more quiet so they can read. What do you do?"

And here is one that I guess you could say would focus on a person's ability to prioritize and multi-task, and I saw a similar question on our state's certification test for school librarianship:

"It's five minutes until the end of first period. The class in the computer lab is printing an assignment that is due to their teacher at the end of class. One student comes up to you saying "the printer doesn't work" and at the same time another student asks you where he/she can find a historical fiction book that focuses on immigration, the book security alarm goes off, and the phone rings. How do you handle this multi-tasking challenge?"


Thanks for the additions. I'll add them to my blog entry on interview questions as a comment.

If you are interested, here are some fair use scenarios I've written:

All the best,


April 30, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I have also asked questions about the candidate's attitude toward freedom of information, but there is probably a more tactful way to phrase the question: "What is your attitude toward censorship?" "How do you feel about having materials in the library that express points of view that differ from your own?" or "What types of materials/information would you think appropriate to keep out of the library?"

I would think that anyone who went through a reputable MLIS program would support freedom of information, but this can be an indication of what kind of educational background your candidate has. It's probably more appropriate for library assistants, but still.

May 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJules

Hi Jules,

The IF question would be a good one. "Have you ever had an adult object to a book in your library? How did you handle it?" I like your questions too.

Uh, I wouldn't be too sure about anything regarding library school grads!

Appreciate the comment,


May 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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