The “Do You Have Any Questions?” Question

by Ashley Crace, Head Editor, INALJ West Virginia

The “Do You Have Any Questions?” Question

ashleycraceA common piece of interview advice is to prepare questions for the inevitable moment when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for us?”.  Asking questions sounds good in theory, yet it becomes more difficult in practice.  As an interview wraps up, you feel mentally fatigued, emotionally exhausted, and wonder how you performed, when they finally ask…”Do you have any questions for us?”

Suddenly, your questions seem too prepared or you just forget them entirely.  Sound familiar?

I found that in my interview preparation, I focused a lot on my answers and very little on my questions.  But with every interview you gain confidence and find areas on which to work.  My questions were definitely an area that needed work.  I wanted to ask questions to which I really was interested in the answer and that I was unable to glean through my own research.  I also wanted to ask questions that showed my interest in the position, enthusiasm for the library field, and dedication to finding the right fit.

My strategy was to have several questions prepared and then choose the best for the interview.  I will provide a few examples of what I came up with for public library positions, but could probably be used in any interview.

  • What would you like to see happen in this department in the next year?
  • What should be the highest priorities for the person taking this position?
  • Have you explored partnerships with any local organizations or would you like to do so in the future?
  • I noticed on the website that the library has a (insert program, innovative service, etc.).  How is that working so far?
  • What do you like best about working here?

The last two questions are my favorites.  I liked asking the interviewers about something new and innovative that was going on at the library.  This gave them a chance to share their passion and excitement about a service or program.  If the interviewer was enthusiastic, it revealed that this organization was not resistant to trying new things or making changes.  I found that when I asked the interviewers why they liked working at the library–they were a little surprised at the question, but genuinely excited to tell me what they liked about their jobs.  This question can help you figure out if this is a place you would want to work, while showing the interviewer that you are really interested in finding a place where you can thrive.

 

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 (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 19.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk 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. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. 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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