Questions to Ask on an Interview

Last Friday the Rutgers MLIS program hosted its annual career fair and as the head of SCARLA I planned a discussion session about the job search process and academic libraries. Our small group had really interesting representation from four-year and two-year colleges, both with and without a tenure structure.

One of the really helpful moments in the discussion (and quite relevant for me at the moment) was when the librarians talked about the kinds of questions a candidate should ask during the interview.

It’s good to be prepared for a couple of reasons: 1) You’re interviewing them, too, to make sure the position and environment is a good fit. Asking questions is how you can find out if it’s a good match where you’ll be successful; and 2) The hiring committee will almost always ask if you have questions, and you don’t want to be caught off guard. Chances are you have questions, but processing some of the information might take more than 15 seconds, so have something to ask while you formulate on-the-spot questions.

And Now the Questions

Here’s what came out of our small group discussion.

  • Is there a structured on-boarding process?
  • Do you pair new hires with more experience librarians for mentorship?
  • What kind of projects is the department/people in the department working on?
  • How do those projects get started?
  • What are you measuring in the library and how are you taking on assessment?
  • What is the tenure process (if there is one)?
  • How often are librarians reviewed?
  • What kind of research and teaching support do you offer?
  • What conferences have the library faculty been to recently? What did they present about? What have they published recently and where have they published?
  • What are the faculty/librarian relationships like?
  • What are the committees that the librarians serve on?
  • How does [the department you’d be joining] work with other departments within the library?

Have an Opinion

They also said that if you’re looking for a public services position that you should also be able to demonstrate that you’ve thought about some of the issues that are important to the field, including:

  • The reference desk & chat
  • Teaching
  • The future of libraries

It was such a good discussion, let’s keep the conversation going. What are some other good questions to ask or things to consider before an interview?

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