Common Interview Questions

As a recently graduated (and subsequently hired!) information science student, I thought it might be helpful to share some of the tips and resources that I found most useful in my job search (part II). If you have any questions you’d like to add or any inquiries for someone who’s been there, please post in the comments!

-Interview Questions

Below is a list of questions that equipped me to answer most of the queries that came up in my interviews, but not all questions listed here will necessarily be relevant to the position for which you are interviewing (the questions in bold are ones that came up in virtually every interview I had):

  • What interests you in this position and what skills and strengths can you bring to it?
  • Describe the top 3 skills you have that are most relevant to this position.
  • Identify words that describe you and your characteristics.
  • What are your weaknesses? (don’t say something that blows them off, but don’t get too negative; you want to give your answer a positive spin while still being honest. Alternatively, you could say something like, “I don’t have much experience with [x] database/software, but I was able to learn [y] during my internship.”)
  • Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  • Give an example of how you set goals and achieve them.
  • When you worked on multiple projects, how did you prioritize?
  • How did you handle meeting a tight deadline?
  • Give an example of how you work with a team.
  • Give an example of how you handled a difficult team member/situation.
  • What are your preferred ways of keeping up with what is going on in the field?
  • Describe 2 or 3 trends that you believe will have the greatest impact on the field in the near future.
  • What makes a job appealing to you?
  • What are your long range career goals and how would working in this position further them?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • Why do you want to work at this institution? (this is where you showcase your research into the institution itself – very important)
  • Why should we hire you? (this is your opportunity to provide a sound bite on you – something concise that will stick with them)
  • Is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to tell us?
  • Do you have any questions for us? (have 3-5 prepared for each group of people interviewing you – EXTREMELY IMPORTANT)
  • What qualities and skills do you have that enable you to interact well with colleagues, coworkers, and the public in general?
  • One of the challenges for liaisons is to make meaningful contact with the faculty in their departments. What have you found to be the most productive ways of reaching your communities? (this is more library focused but you may need to answer something similar)
  • Describe your most significant success and your biggest failure in the past 2 years. What did you learn from these experiences?
  • Describe your community-based outreach experience.
  • What project or activity have you worked on in the past year(s) that inspired your passion for the field?
  • Describe your most distressing customer service situation. What would you do differently?
  • What makes you stand out from others?
  • Have you handled a difficult situation with a client or vendor? How?

If the position is heavily focused on technology, be prepared for questions related to that specifically and how you have used said technology in the past, etc. You can use similar technology as an example of how you are able to acquire necessary technical skills – “I don’t have much experience with [x] database/software, but I was able to learn [y] during my internship.” A skills-based “deficiency” is easily remedied.

REMEMBER: never badmouth a former team member, job, supervisor, school, etc.

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