Here are the top 10 most asked library assistant interview questions along with suggested answers so you can walk into your interview prepared and land that job.
1. What do you think are the essential characteristics of a library assistant? Tell me how you demonstrate those.
This question tests whether you understand what being a library assistant requires and what skills and characteristics you need to be successful in the role. Your answer should show your understanding. Tell the interviewer which of these characteristics you have. Giving examples is a good way to do this.
A passion for reading and learning is essential. Being organized and having excellent attention to detail is also important. A good memory is also important, as library users will often ask either for recommendations of specific types of books or for help to find a book on the shelf. All these characteristics are essential and complement each other. I have all these characteristics. In my current role, I am often the person library users come to for recommendations. I keep up-to-date with all new releases, read as much as possible, and I also get to know library users if I can so I can keep them in mind when making additions to our catalog. I hope that those examples speak to my love of reading, memory skills, and my focus on the guests to the library.
2. Tell me about your passion for books.
Library assistants should have a genuine desire to read. Your answer should show that passion. People who are passionate about books treat books with respect and do their best to preserve them. They can also inspire that passion in others. Those are desirable qualities in a library assistant. Tell the interviewer why you are passionate about books and reading. Be genuine in your answer. Smile.
My love of books dates back to when I was little. My dad would take me to the library every Saturday morning to choose new books for the week ahead. It allowed us to spend time together, both picking and reading books. For me, that taught me that books could unite people and allow people to learn or have some quiet time. Books are a way of preserving and sharing information. While I appreciate that the internet can share information, I still see books as the best way of preserving information and history. Besides, nothing is better than holding a book in your hand and flipping the crisp paper pages.
3. How important do you think technology is for the job of a library assistant?
Being a library assistant is about more than having a passion for books. As part of the job, you will use computers, various software programs such as Excel or catalog programs, and the internet. It will also be part of your role to help library users use computers. Show the interviewer you understand technology is, and will continue to be, important in the role. Your answer should show that you are comfortable with technology and willing to learn to use other software and programs as necessary.
Technology is very important to a library assistant. We need to have a way of properly cataloging and tracking the books available. I am comfortable with cataloging software to do that. Helping library users search for information is also a big part of the role, and that means being able to use online databases and encyclopedias and search engines. I believe that keeping up-to-date with technology is an important part of the role.
4. How would you encourage a passion for reading in others, particularly in younger generations?
As technology advances, many children are growing up with electronic forms of books and other information at their fingertips, but they also live in a world with many time-wasting electronic distractions. The interviewer wants to know that you can encourage others to visit the library, read books, and to learn.
I recognize that my experience of being taken to the library as a child may differ from younger generations. With all the technology around, there is a lot of entertainment that distracts children and adults away from learning. I think it is important to show them why they should be passionate about books and the library. They should understand why books are important. I would plan to hold readings, group sessions, and storytimes to help people discover their love of books. We could also have book clubs, having different clubs for different genres so that there is something for everyone. I would try to arrange author visits if possible, and book fairs can also help promote reading.
5. How do you prioritize your tasks and manage your time?
The role of library assistants can involve juggling different tasks, for example, serving library users at the desk, answering the phone, dealing with live chats, and keeping files and catalogs up-to-date. The interviewer wants to know that you can manage your day, complete tasks, and keep library users happy. Tell the interviewer what time management techniques you use to deal with your workload.
I recognize that the role of a library assistant is busy, and I really enjoy staying busy. Each day, I prepare a list of tasks I need to complete and prioritize those. That list contains tasks that I must do that day, but there will be others that are not urgent and can wait until the next day. In prioritizing my tasks and planning my day, I would factor in any busy times that there may be. Although there are tasks I need to complete, such as cataloging new books, I recognize that serving and helping library users are important, and I need to balance serving library users with the need to complete tasks on my list. Knowing the typical rush hour times for library users would help me plan my day.
6. What are the primary duties and responsibilities of a library assistant?
Before the interview, read the job description. By familiarizing yourself with the job description and drawing on any experience you have as a library assistant, you will be well-placed to give an excellent answer to this question. Talk about what a library assistant does to help a librarian.
As a library assistant, my primary duty is to help the librarian. I do that in several ways. For example, I would answer questions from library users in the library, on the telephone, and from emails. I would help library users choose and find books. Cataloging new books and helping the librarian develop the collections would also be part of my duties. The librarian must be able to depend on me, so being reliable and responsible is important.
7. How important do you think customer service is as a library assistant?
Providing excellent library user service might not immediately spring to mind as a library assistant, but in fact, it is important. The library is there to serve the community, so as a library assistant, you must be able to provide excellent library user service to the community. Show the interviewer that customer service is a focus for you and that you understand how it applies in a library setting.
The library is here to serve the community, to help people learn, and to be a place people can go to get information. As a library assistant, I recognize how important it is to provide excellent library user service to the community. I aim to provide that to every guest in the library. For me, that means asking people if I can help them find something, even if they haven’t asked. It means getting to know the people who regularly visit so they feel at home in the library and so I can provide extra value to them. For example, if I know they are working on a research project, I could let them know if a new book has come in that would be helpful. It might mean showing them a fresh approach to their research or a new database that might be useful. It is about providing value for every library user.
8. You are helping a college student with some research. Where there are several sources of information, how do you determine what sources are relevant?
Students visit a library to find relevant, trustworthy material to help with their studies. Sometimes they will need help with finding the right materials. As a library assistant, you will need to point students in the right direction and help them determine what sources are relevant. Your answer should show the interviewer you have excellent communication skills. You need to communicate with the student, so they understand what sources they are looking at and where to find them. You should also be able to show that you are organized and resourceful.
If a student needed help, I would make sure I understood what they were looking for. I would talk with the student to clarify their needs. Once I understood their needs, I would then compile a list of sources. By understanding the student’s needs, I can then help them narrow the list of sources down to what may be relevant. For example, if they are preparing a college essay on the legal system, then the sources would be legal textbooks, journals, and perhaps historical documents rather than searching the internet for information.
9. Tell me about your collection development strategy as a library assistant.
Each library will have a collection development strategy or policy that supports the library’s mission statement. Your answer should show that you understand the purpose of the strategy and how you would develop your strategy. The collection development strategy will serve as a guide for selecting, acquiring, and maintaining materials for the library. The strategy should have library users at the heart of it.
I put library users at the heart of my strategy. I would get to know the regular visitors to the library and what they like to read. That information is available from their borrowing history, but I would also survey users to find out what they would like to find in the library. Keeping current with new publications and reading professional reviews and recommendations would also help shape my strategy.
It is important that I don’t just consider genres I am interested in, but that I consider all library users. As part of my strategy, I would also regularly weed out books that aren’t being used to ensure we have space for new books and information.
10. Tell me why I should hire you.
This question gives you the chance to sell yourself to the interviewer. Before the interview, read the job description and write down which requirements you meet and why you meet them. Wanting to work specifically for this library, and that you meet several requirements of the job, would be a great answer. Another approach is talking about your skills and strengths and how they align with the job role, like in the example below. Be genuine in your answer. Let your passion for the role show, and make sure to smile when you are answering and throughout the interview.
Books and knowledge are my passion. This role would allow me the chance to share that passion with others, to encourage them to be passionate about books and knowledge. I enjoy helping people, and I see this role as an opportunity to help library users. I also see it as an opportunity to help preserve history and information. Being a library assistant requires excellent time management. A library assistant has to complete all necessary tasks and do well under pressure. I have those essential skills.
Next 40 Most Asked Library Assistant Interview Questions
- How can a librarian have a positive impact on their community?
- Do you work well as part of a team?
- Can you tell me about a time you failed in your role as a library assistant? What would you do differently next time?
- What do you think are your strengths as a library assistant?
- Why do you think libraries are important?
- Tell me about your experience as a library assistant.
- Why do you want to work at this library?
- If a library user was disruptive, how would you deal with that person?
- Tell me about your weaknesses.
- What are your favorite books?
- What is your favorite part of a library assistant’s role?
- What training have you undertaken in the last twelve months to improve your knowledge as a library assistant?
- What experience do you have ordering library materials and working with budgets?
- How would you make the library inviting to library users?
- Tell me about your involvement in library instruction programs.
- What types of materials have you previously worked with as a library assistant?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- How do you think you could use social media in your role as a library assistant?
- Can you tell me about your qualifications?
- How would you handle a library user who was being difficult?
- What do you like least about being a library assistant?
- How do you feel about cataloging or recommending books or materials that you find offensive?
- What experience do you have in maintaining books in good shape?
- How would your previous employer describe you as a library assistant?
- What motivates you to do well in your role?
- Why do you want to be a library assistant?
- How do you see the library assistant role evolving over the next three years?
- Are there any tasks you feel you would need further training for so you can do them well?
- What professional organizations do you belong to?
- How do you deal with negative feedback?
- If a library user objected to a book on a topic, how would you handle that?
- Tell me about your most important professional accomplishment.
- What are you reading right now?
- How comfortable are you with e-books?
- What should be the top three selection criteria for adult materials?
- If a library user asked for materials that the library didn’t have, what would you do?
- How do you handle stress?
- What value do you see in belonging to professional organizations?
- Tell me about a successful program or event you have been involved in planning.
- How would you choose which books to recommend to a library user?
10 Best Questions to Ask in a Library Assistant Interview
Once the interviewer has finished asking their questions, they should give you a chance to ask some questions. The questions you ask can help reinforce your interest in the job. The questions you ask can also help you understand whether this job is a good fit for you.
- What is your current collection development strategy?
- What do you think I should accomplish in the first 90 days?
- How do you measure success in this role?
- Can you tell me about the funding sources for the library collections?
- What training will I receive?
- How do you see the role of a library assistant changing in the next five years?
- What challenges is the library facing?
- Can you describe the culture here?
- What does a typical day look like in this role?
- What classification system do you use?
Practice the answers to these questions in front of a mirror several times to prepare for the interview and impress the interviewer on the day. Observe your facial expressions and body language while you are answering. Make sure you are familiar with the job description and the organization. Putting in the time beforehand will give you the best opportunity to show the interviewer you are the right person to bring value to the role.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.