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What questions should you be prepared to answer?

In Part 1 of this two-part blog, we discussed the qualifications most often cited for school library media specialist (SLMS) candidates. In Part 2, we take a look at interview questions from librarians and administrators that will help you showcase your skills and experience.

You’ve done some research into the traits and background that the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) recommends and that schools will be seeking when hiring a school library media specialist (SLMS). Now you need a list of questions that will help you prepare.

Ta-da! We’ve compiled a list below. The list isn’t exhaustive, and doesn’t include the obvious questions about your educational and teaching background. But each question addresses a broad area that will get you thinking about how to package your special skills and abilities. Sample answers are also included for some questions.

1. What strengths do you bring to a school librarian position and what areas would you like to improve?

STRENGTHS:

  • Educational background, including observation hours, internships, workshops, professional conferences, and any extra hours spent in the library media center above and beyond requirements
  • Personality characteristics (creative, motivated, personable, willing to collaborate, love of reading and of working with kids, parents, and community)
  • Organizational ability (of both paperwork and collections)
  • Classes, books, programs, or networking groups that have increased your technical skills, enhanced your ability to develop library programs, or provided you with business skills to better market the library or maximize budget dollars
  • Knowledge of AASL/CC – your understanding of how the AASL’s Standards for the 21st-Century Learner align with the Common Core State Standards in language arts, reading, writing, and mathematics

AREAS TO IMPROVE

  • Minimize a lack of classroom experience by highlighting current career experience, internships, and observation
  • Discuss proactive steps to get up to speed, such as spending time in the library above and beyond observation and internships, listening to literature on CD, attending BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) programs, or substituting as time allows

2. What are your favorite books—adult, YA, and children’s literature—and why? Describe the books as though you were recommending them to a patron.

3. How will you make a difference in the lives of the children you’ll serve?

  • Teach them how to think for themselves, question what they’ve read, be effective researchers and users of information
  • Perhaps be that one teacher that a child remembers as an adult because of a book you’ve recommended or a new way of thinking that you’ve encouraged

4. In your opinion, what is the value of belonging to professional organizations (and to which do you belong)?

  • Librarian workshops
  • Author visits
  • Awareness of new books
  • Best practices

5. What is your technology experience?

  • Databases you’d recommend (and why)
  • Websites
  • Web 2.0
  • Citations
  • Adaptive technology
  • Virtual field trips
  • Programs and apps such as Wordle, Glogster, Crazytalk, and Audacity

6. What would you do to improve the school’s collection? What other contributions could you make to our library?

7. Describe the most stressful event you’ve faced in your library or teaching career, and how you handled it.

8. Give an example of a collaborative team or group project and how you contributed to it.

9. What is your educational philosophy? Additionally, how would you describe your style of leadership?

You can find other ideas at sites like The Shusher’s, who provides insight via a mock interview with the Los Angeles Public Library’s Librarian Guild.

Let us know about other topic areas you may have encountered in school librarian interviews, and how you handled them.

19 Dec 2013 | Posted by Shannon Janeczek

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