Frequently Asked Interview Questions

by Stephanie Altbier, MSLS, ERMp

I recently had a job interview where the interview panel asked several personality questions. Here are my suggestions for how to answer the questions.

“What is your hobby?” Give a professional response by talking about your volunteering activities and how you grow your professional skills.

“What would your supervisor say about you?” If you have a reference letter from your supervisor, read the letter to the interview panel or summarize the supervisor’s complements to you for a job well done.

“Have you worked with different personalities?” Explain that you have worked with individuals who have different personalities and with diverse groups from other cultures.

“How would your friends describe you?” If you have completed a Myers-Briggs personality test or another personality test, tell the interview panel about your personality traits that were revealed in the test results. If you have not taken a personality test, explain how reliable you are. You are available to work long hours, travel, attend conferences and learn new skills.

“What would you do if you have a problem with a co-worker?” If you want to play it safe, give a neutral response by stating, I recognize that employers have different personnel policies to handle conflicts, and I would follow the policy procedures as stated in the personnel handbook. However, if you feel strongly about what you would do to resolve conflict with a co-worker then give a precise response.

The two most common questions asked in an interview are What are your weaknesses? and What are your strengths? I think Martin Yate, CPC and author of Knock em Dead, The Ultimate Job Search Guide, and Secrets & Strategies for Success, recommends the best responses to these two questions from his blog.

“What are your weaknesses?” Yate states, “You can safely, and honestly, say that your greatest weakness is finding time to stay current with all the new technologies/skills required in your work, because it’s a challenge everyone experiences. Then you give an example(s) of how you have made time to develop an in-demand new skill.”

“What are your strengths?” Yate states, “Slant your answer toward the specific skill requirements of the job, your problem prevention and solution headset, and your possession of the transferable professional skills such as Multi-tasking, Critical Thinking, and the eight Communication skills (see any Knock em Dead book) that underlie success in every job.”

This started as a discussion at the INALJ LinkedIn page. Come join the discussions here

reposted form 1/12/12 and 7/30/12

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook, Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. In just over a year and a half she’s had over 8.5 Million page hits and helped over 1,500 librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to New Orleans, LA. She runs her husband’s moving labor website, KhanMoving.com, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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