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Ten On Tuesday

Yesterday I had to conduct a couple of job interviews. This isn’t something I terribly hate but I don’t actually love it either. I do find, though, that asking good questions usually leads to getting good results – one way or the other. So, I thought it would be fun to write a list of 10 Great Interview Questions.

  1. Tell me about yourself. I always ask this first. I think it relaxes people to talk about themselves and I usually learn some pretty good stuff, too.
  2. What have you done at your current/former job that uniquely qualifies you for this position? Qualifications are important.
  3. What was your greatest accomplishment at your current/former job? I want to hear about the good stuff and I never ask about weaknesses or things they did wrong. They’ll just lie or say something about being a workaholic or some other weakness that they think I will see as a strength.
  4. How do you think your coworkers would describe you? I find it interesting to hear how people think others would describe them.
  5. What do you see as the major challenges of this position? I work in the public sector so the answer to this one is almost always financially related but sometimes I find out other things, too.
  6. Why do you want to work here? If they can’t answer this one well then I won’t hire them. Seriously.
  7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Goals are a good thing and being able to express them is important.
  8. What was the last book you read? This is a great question, in my opinion. Not only do I find out about a person’s taste in books – which I believe is very revealing – but I also get book recommendations.
  9. Tell me about a time you were overwhelmed and how you handled it. I want to know who they respond to pressure.
  10. Do you have any questions for me? The types of questions they ask show whether they have done any background work on my organization. And I probably won’t be hiring them if the first question they ask how much vacation time they get!
My list of questions is often just a guide and I try to go with the tempo and feel of the interview. Some of the best interviews I’ve ever conducted have also been some of the shortest – when you find the right person you just know.
Got some great interview questions? Add your blog to the list!

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. As a fellow library director, I just totally copied your listed and emailed it to my work address. Interviewing isn’t my favorite thing to do, but good questions make all the difference. I always use why do you want to work here. People often have illusions about what working in a library is like.

  2. Great questions. The open ended ones are the best way to go in my opinion. I am envious that you have funding for open positions!

  3. My first thought was you question #8. It’s only fitting you would ask what they read. How can you work in a library and not read. Great list.

  4. good stuff. next time I look for a job you can be my prep person.(i’ll pay you)HAHA

  5. Having only 2 job interviews under my belt, and never having interviewed anyone else, I’m so unqualified for this 10! I think it’s a great list, though. Although some people are understandably nervous in interview situations, I think that it’d be pretty obvious whether they’d be a good fit for the library … if they’re not a people-person, they probably won’t make a good librarian! All the great librarians I know are definitely people-people haha!

  6. I get a lot of people walking in to my office (students) asking about various forms of employment within the department. Which is great, and I’ve picked up some really good people that way.

    However, lately, the first question I’ve had to ask nearly all of them is ‘What is your name?’ SO annoying!! They come in and want me to hire them for this and that and they can’t even be bothered to introduce themselves first…

  7. Can’t seem to leave a link. Hmm…

    I like the question “Why do you want to work here?” It separates those that just want a job, any job, from those that actually aspire to work there.

  8. These are savvy questions and, used well (which I’m sure you do), give the opportunity to learn a lot about the applicant. it amazes me how many interviewers never give the applicant a chance to present herself. Jo

    P.S. Another snow day here — four to eight expected and the leaves are still not off the trees.

  9. Great questions. I hope that at some point things will pick up and I’ll get to use them to hire an assistant. If wishes were wings!

  10. One of the interesting and introspective questions I have asked is “If you could be any shoe you wished, what would you be and why?”

  11. Great list, Carole! I think I’ve asked (or been asked) most of those questions over the years. Hope you find the perfect new employee!

  12. A new favorite at my company (asked of me when interviewing for my promotion, then asked by me when we were looking to hire someone new on our team) is “What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?” The answer can tell you a lot – how others perceive them, how good they are at gauging how others perceive them, and what might be behind how they come across. Fascinating!

  13. Having just been through the interview process myself from the other side, I can tell you those are great questions.

  14. They are really great questions. When we interview, we ask a lot of situational questions that usually begin with, “Tell me about a time when….” We ask about conflict resolution, team work, leadership and many other things by asking for specific examples. It’s easy for someone to tell you they like team work, or they are a good leader, or they can solve problems, but we want to hear some scenarios and it makes for a very thoughtful interview.

  15. Like you, I have a book question. “What were the last three or four books you’ve read?” I am the lead and founder of a small special program for our district. One of my favorites is “Tell me about your most difficult teaching experience.” That’s always a revealing one!

    Love the apple shot!

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