Questions asked in Interview: LIS & General

I get calls/emails from students/professionals looking for a job change or the next promotion, preparing for interviews asking for guidance. Please note that depending on the position you are applying (Librarian/Deputy Librarian/Asst. Librarian/Library Assistant, Professional Assistant, etc.), the job profile, type of library (School, College, University, Corporate, Public, etc.) questions will be asked.  So, sharing a few tips…

Interview Preparation

Day Before Interview Date

  • Google the company/institution/organization, check its website and social media as well as feedback on various portals regarding the company and its work culture. Check the library, its collection, staff, products if any, services it extends etc. Check the vision and mission of the organization as well as the vision of important people of the organization like CEO, etc.
  • Check out LinkedIn and connect with all former and current employees and ask them about company culture and work ethic.
  • Confirm the Date, Time and Venue with the person facilitating the interview. Sometimes it may change and be intimated on a different platform like posted on the potential employer’s website and/or social media rather than directly messaging the candidate.
  • Plan to reach at least two hours early by factoring in sudden events like vehicle breaking down, etc.
  • Eat well, be hydrated and sleep well to look well rested and calm.

Before Entering Interview Room

  • Don’t be nervous – try to smile and look relaxed.
  • Be well groomed, comfortable shoes, wear clean ironed clothes which you are comfortable with rather than wearing new clothes.
  • Don’t wear too many accessories, jewelry, a strong perfume, etc.
  • Carry original educational and work experience certificates with 2 sets of photocopies of educational certificates, 10 copies of CV to give to all interviewers, multiple passport photographs in a file/folder/bag.
  • Try to interact with other participants as employers may gauge your reactions for team dynamics.
  • You can request from participants the questions they were asked by the interviewer. You can find out the setting/placement of the room and number of interviewers.

After Entering Interview Room

  • Put your mobile on silent.
  • Greet/Wish all interviewers on entering the room and SMILE.
  • Sit when asked. If they don’t ask, then you can ask “May I sit” and respond according to Yes/No.
  • Ask if you need to share your CV or certificates with interviewers. 
  • If you know any interviewer do not try to recognise them as they may be your teacher, former colleague, senior, classmate, friend or show over familiarity unless the interviewer themselves bring it to attention. If a junior is an interviewer do not show over familiarity or patronize them.
  • If the interviewer poses a question – If you know the answer, then answer it. If you don’t know the answer, accept and honestly tell them you don’t know rather than fibbing your way through. 
  • Allow the interviewer to completely ask their question before attempting to answer it by assuming what the question is. 
  • Don’t interrupt when the interviewer is either questioning, summarizing some point, etc. Wait and take permission to either answer or add to the discussion.
  • If the interviewer brings forth some negative point – don’t argue. Agree to differ in a soft tone.
  • Some interviewers may rile you up, to test you, don’t get worked up. Try to maintain a soft tone without shouting, use professional language and formally address the person even when it turns ugly.
  • Never answer a question with another question? Don’t respond in one word like ‘yes’ or ‘no’, always give an example or short explanation. Don’t give long explanations or meander. 
  • Be polite and don’t try to be over-modest in reponses.
  • If you need time to formulate an answer, you can ask the interviewer to repeat the question.
  • If there are any questions that you need clarification regarding the job profile, salary, etc. you can ask after formally requesting permission to ask.
  • Ask who would get back to you about results and when. Take mobile or email if interviewers provide one. Or If you should call back to find out the status of the interview.
  • After the interview finishes. Thank all the interviewers and exit the room without lingering.

After Interview Finishes

  • Send a thank you email or message to the person who took the interview or facilitated it. Not mandatory but adds value/brownie points.
  • Follow up with the HR/person who connected by calling or messaging or emailing him/her.
  • If there is no contact info provided, then take contact info from the company website and call after a day or week checking status.
  • Keep in touch with other persons who attended the interview.
  • Don’t try to influence the interviewer directly or indirectly through others to push the interview outcome in your favor.

Probable Library Related Questions

  • Tell us what you know about the library and the job you are interviewing for.
  • Did you physically visit the library before the interview? If no, Why? If yes, What changes would you suggest to improve? Give suggestions on space management.
  • Would you change anything about the library or its website? If yes, What? If no, Why?
  • Why did you choose Library Science as a career? 
  • What motivated you to seek a library degree?
  • Who inspired you to pursue library science as a profession?
  • What qualifications do you possess to make you qualified for the job advertised?
  • What extraordinary qualities do you possess that distinguish you from others? Describe instances where you demonstrated these qualities.
  • What gives you the most satisfaction in your role as a librarian?
  • What is the most important thing you look for in a job?
  • When Google is there why do we need libraries or librarians?
  • Do you think libraries/librarians will exist in the future?
  • Why are libraries important in this era?
  • What positive/negative changes do you see/envisage for libraries in the next few years? 
  • What are essential qualities of a librarian? Do you meet those?
  • How do you deal with budgeting restraints?
  • What innovative services can you extend in the library you are going to join?
  • Nobody is reading now, so how will you improve reading skills of patrons of the library you are going to join?
  • Is the library user a patron or customer?
  • Describe a good and bad interaction with a patron/user? How did you handle conflicts?
  • Skills you possess related to the job you are getting interviewed for.
  • Your opinion about library instruction or literacy programs like information and/or digital literacy? 
  • List out all library modules which can be automated?
  • What is the difference between automation and computerisation?
  • What are the benefits of library automation? 
  • What are problems that can be encountered in library automation?
  • What is the cutter number?
  • What is the class number?
  • What does OPAC mean?
  • What is ISBN and ISSN? Difference between both?
  • Does newspaper have ISSN
  • Do blogs have ISSN?
  • What is a monograph?
  • Define Reference Collection in your own words.
  • What is a serial publication?
  • What is a periodical? Give examples of few periodicals 
  • Difference between CAS and SDI?
  • What is resource sharing?
  • What is your role in the academic system as academic librarian?
  • How can an academic librarian and teacher/faculty work together for student education?
  • How can a public librarian extend services to the public in a public library?
  • What services are extended in special libraries?
  • How important is shelving to you?
  • How important is Weeding or Stock Editing? How can weeding lead to strong collection?
  • What is your collection development and maintenance strategy?
  • Propose an environment to promote learning?
  • How would you measure the effectiveness of the library service?
  • Define what is excellent customer service in the library scenario?
  • How would you promote reading?
  • If there is no Library Management Software procured, then how will you manage the library?
  • Should there be social media tools separately for libraries? Why? Why not?
  • Did you encounter any difficulties and problems while dealing with patrons/users? How did you deal with it?
  • How will you assist the faculty?
  • How can you contribute to research scholars conducting research?
  • What do you do to ensure that your patrons have access to new and relevant reading materials?
  • You do not have much funding, so how will you manage a library manually?
  • Can you install and manage software for institutional repositories?
  • Name a couple of important journals in Library Science.
  • What is a predatory journal/publisher?
  • What are CARE journals?
  • What are UGC approved journals?
  • What makes a journal national/international?
  • How can a librarian help in curtailing plagiarism and self plagiarism?
  • Discuss
    • National Library
    • National Digital Library of India
    • Depository Libraries
    • OCLC
    • ALA
    • CILIP
    • IFLA
    • Copyright
    • Fair Use
    • Fair Dealing
    • Intellectual Property Rights
    • Creative Commons
    • Public Domain
    • Common Knowledge
    • Research Misconduct
    • Academic Misconduct
    • Plagiarism
    • Self Plagiarism
    • Anti Plagiarism Tools
    • International Journal attributes
    • Impact Factor. How is it calculated?
    • What is H Index and i10 index
    • Open Access
    • Open Source
    • Fake News
    • Altmetrics
      • PlumX
      • Altmetric
  • Mention some important Reference Sources
  • List some important LIS books that you have read.
  • List a couple of LIS people whose blogs you follow.
  • List a couple of LIS people who have influenced you.
  • What professional groups are you a member of? How do you contribute? How did you benefit from being a member of this group?
  • How do you schedule your time on a regular day in the library versus an unusually hectic day with specific examples?
  • Give a schedule of a typical day in your current role in the library.
  • How do you keep track of the library related tasks you are required to do?
  • How do you keep track of the tasks your library staff are required to do? Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly on appraisal time.
  • How do you deal with staff who have performance problems?
  • How do you deal with staff who have disciplinary problems?
  • What methods of training do you adopt or find most effective when training library staff? 
  • In a scenario 
    • a patron approaches you and complains about another patron like below, what would you do?
      • looking at something inappropriate on computers
      • calling/messaging/emailing another patron inappropriate stuff or harassing them.
    • where a junior member of your team disagrees with you in front of other members of the team. How would you handle that?
    • you disagree with your superior. How would you handle that in front of the team?
    • your superior is shouting at you in front of other members of the team. How would you handle that?
    • when your achievements recognised/not recognised in your previous positions? How did you feel?
  • Can you use Open source Softwares like 
    • Koha
    • DSpace
  • What methods do you use to update yourself with changes in the profession of librarianship and technology that impacts libraries and services you extend?
  • What services can a library extend online and offline? 
  • What services did you extend in the pandemic from the library?

If you did PhD

  • Why did you choose that particular topic for your PhD?
  • What are the major findings of your PhD?
  • What are the objectives and hypothesis/hypotheses of your PhD?
  • Explain the methodology adopted.
  • Explain about current research in the LIS field or in your PhD topic.
  • If you published research papers and books – they will ask you questions on the titles and the major findings. Depending on your answer, further questions will be asked.
  • What is the difference between Sources, Intext citation, In-line Citation, Citation, Bibliography, Annotated Bibliography, References?
  • What is a citation style? Is it the same as a style sheet? Give examples
  • What citation style is used in Library Science

Probable General Questions

  • Introduce yourself. Tell your name, education qualifications and where you are currently working – probably career goals and expectations in life.
  • The below 3 questions for people who switch between professions and jobs (from Engineering Education to Library Sciences or Working in MNC in Admin to Librarian, etc.)
    • What work did you do in the past?
    • What work are you currently doing? 
    • What work do you envisage doing in future? 
    • Why are you stuck in one place for so many years? OR Why are you moving jobs so frequently?
  • What is your philosophy in Life?
  • What are the aspects in your present position you like or dislike? 
  • What prompted you to change the job?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • How do you measure success?
  • Why do you think you are eligible for this position?
  • List three most important things you accomplished in life.
  • Describe your most rewarding experience
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you rate your communication skills? 
  • How do you motivate yourself? 
  • How do you characterize your supervisory style?
  • Describe your management style.
  • Did you make a poor decision or mistake on the job? What is it? Did you learn from it? What did you learn from it?
  • Do you work in silo or are you a team player?
  • What techniques do you use to promote or foster teamwork? How do you create an effective working relationship within a team?
  • What kind of people do you find challenging to work with?What will you do to improve the situation?
  • Share an experience when you had work problems or stress that was difficult for you to deal with.
  • How do you deal with pressure? Were there any pressures you experienced in your current job? How did you cope with these pressures?
  • List a couple of things you don’t like or try to avoid in a job.
  • What makes you angry? How do you react? 
  • How do you react when co-workers disagree with you?
  • Do you involve co-workers in their personal lives to ease their professional lives?
  • Do you involve the patron/users personal life and advise them on their personal issues?
  • What will you do if patrons troll/flame you on social media? How will you react?
  • Your experience in dealing with difficult patrons/users.
  • Do you have personal goals? What are you doing towards achieving them?
  • What is your favorite author or book?
  • Which book did you read recently, can you say something about it?
  • Person who influenced you?
  • Explain your strengths and weaknesses? How will they impact in delivering your work?
  • Challenges you are expecting in the current role.
  • Why did you leave your previous job?
  • What did you learn in your previous job?
  • What do you know about us/employers?
  • Can you handle the following in addition to existing job profile
    • Library Institutional Repository
    • Library Management Software
    • Learning Management System like Moodle
    • Library Website
    • Library Newsletter
    • Library Social Media
    • Prepare MOOC
    • Literacy – Digital, Information etc
  • If you were hiring for this job, what qualities would you look for?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Salary of previous job?
  • Salary expected? 

Resources for Interview Preparation




Note: You can give your feedback and suggestions at 

Inspire Minds

Inspire Minds to Change Lives


Feed Your Head

MetLib Conference 2014

Intrepid Journeys - Libraries at the Edge of Discovery

Information Science, Library and Archives Internships

Internship, Fellowship and Residency opportunities for those interested in gaining hands-on experience in the field of Information Science, Libraries & affiliated Archives and Museums


Blogging about things I wish I knew

Buy India a Library

Librarians funding a library in India via twitter

Learning, Teaching and Leadership

A blog for educators, researchers and other thinkers by Sarah Elaine Eaton, Ph.D.

Open Access Online LIS Journals

Free Access "Library and Information Science" Journals

Mark Carrigan

Philosophy and Sociology of Digital Education

Debunking Denialism

Fighting pseudoscience and quackery with reason and evidence.

DOAJ News Service

News, updates, & developments from the Directory of Open Access Journals

Librarian Design Share

inspiration for library creatives

Hazel Hall

Professor of Social Informatics, Edinburgh Napier University

%d bloggers like this: