Librarian Job Interview Tips

Depending on the type of library that you wish to work in, the job interview for librarians can vary greatly. Librarians should be prepared for basic behavior descriptive questions and questions that are specific to their library specialty.

Behavior Descriptive Questions

Behavior descriptive interview (BDI) questions have been used by human resource professionals for over forty years, for many different types of interviews. A behavior descriptive question asks about a past behavior or experience to determine what future behavior will be like.

For example: BDI questions include: "tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker". Or "tell me about the management style that you prefer". Or "tell us about your time management or organizational skills". BDI questions should be answered by referring to specific experiences you have had in the past. Include a brief summary of the events, and the results of the action that you took to resolve the situation. Be sure to highlight a special skill that you possess. When answering a BDI question, stay focused on the story, don't make up anything, and try to always have a positive outcome for the past behavior that you select. BDI questions are very popular for use in initial screening interviews.

Public Libraries

Depending on the position you are interviewing for, expect to be asked questions about the population you will work with, such as, "what library programs have you delivered to children?" They will also ask about any skills you will need to perform on the job, such as, "what is your experience with marketing programs or library services to the community?"

You can also expect questions about community events or local politics. The questions are asked to assess whether you understand the role of the public library in the local community.

Academic Libraries

In addition to BDI questions, prepare for questions about the academic community. The library's location and services it provides to the community are important aspects of any library. Find out if they have special liaison librarians for each department or faculty and learn about the databases and instructional services they offer.

Special Libraries

To prepare for a special libraries interview, review the topics that are most important for the industry that the library serves. For example, in a health sciences library, be prepared to answer questions about the role of the librarian in evidence-based medicine.


Presentations are very common in the academic librarian interview but less common than the other library specialties. The interviewers will assign a topic and you should review the research on that area and prepare a presentation that will take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour to present. You can also prepare slides for the presentation, though you will have to ask your interviewers about access to a laptop and projector if you can't use your own. Don't assume they will be available.