“Do You Have Any Questions?”: Four Areas of Focus

by Rebekah Kati, Head Editor, INALJ North Carolina

“Do You Have Any Questions?”: Four Areas of Focus

RebekahKatiI dread the “do you have any questions” part of the interview. It can be difficult to know what to ask, especially if you are interviewing for an area of librarianship that is new to you. I’ve found that I always want to know more about a few general areas which can get passed over in previous conversations.

Job duties

In my experience, most jobs will have a significant number of duties that are not mentioned in the job posting. Asking open-ended questions will help you get an idea of what you would actually be doing day-to-day. Also, you will be able to determine if the job described in the ad is the same job for which you are interviewing. Often, job ads are non-specific or bogged down in HR-speak and need clarity.

Example questions

  • What would a typical day be like?
  • Are there any job duties that we have not discussed?
  • Could you tell me more about [job duty that has been vaguely mentioned]?
  • What projects might I be working on during my first few months of employment? 

Staffing and organizational structure

It can be very difficult to get a sense of the structure of the organization from one or two conversations. Be sure to ask questions about how your job duties will fit with existing positions, as this can help you assess fit. If you are able to meet with your future co-workers, ask them too! They will likely have a different perspective on your position and job duties than the search committee.

Example questions

  • How would this position interact with [search committee member’s position]?
  • Where does this position fit in the organizational structure?
  • Will my job duties overlap with other positions? 

Professional development

Librarianship is an ever-changing field and good employers will provide their employees with the means to improve their skill sets and keep up with trends in the profession. Since professional development budgets have been stretched thin for many libraries, the answers to these questions might be a little disappointing. The important thing is to see if professional development is a priority for the library administration or an afterthought, as this will likely reflect library priorities when funding returns.

Example questions

  • What sort of professional development opportunities are available?
  • What sort of professional development opportunities have staff completed over the past year?
  • Does the library provide training classes for [job-relevant skill]? 

Future plans

If you are planning to stay in the job for a significant period of time, it is a good idea to get a sense of the future goals and plans of your potential employer. This will help you assess if the employer’s goals align with your own and if there might be organizational changes forthcoming.

Example questions:

  • Where do you see the library in five years?
  • What are the library’s long-term goals?
  • What long-term projects are the library staff working on?

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