Job Application and Interviewing Tips

Applying for jobs in public libraries can be a very different process from applying for jobs in other information environments. Since public libraries are part of city, county, or state governments, all job applicants normally apply through the local government human resources departments and systems. This often involves a multi-step process, rather than the applicant simply submitting a resume and cover letter in direct response to a position listing.

For example, a typical process may contain the following steps:

  1. Applicant creates and submits an online profile with education & employment experience
  2. Applicant then applies online for a specific posted opportunity, including answering fully any supplemental questions
  3. All (or most) applicants are contacted to take exam
  4. Applicants who are successful at the exam & whose application demonstrates appropriateness are contacted for an interview

Two resources that describe specific types of public library interviewing circumstances you may want to check out are Tips & Techniques, which provides an overview for applying to New Jersey civil service positions (applicable to other states as well), and the County of Los Angeles Public Library career page, which describes the hiring process of a major urban library, including an examination process and multiple panel interviews. In addition, be sure to check out the iSchool’s webcast with Jesse Walker-Lanz, Adult & Digital Services Administrator, County of Los Angeles Public Library, “Insider Insights: How to interview & find career success in Public Libraries”.


For additional advice on acing your library interview, see:
Library Interview Questions
Library Interview Questions Database
Nailing the Library Interview
Some Real-Life Data Librarian Interview Questions


See also the following SJSU iSchool interviewing resources for more general information about preparing for a successful interview:
After the Interview
Basic Interview Questions
Behavioral Interview Questions
Even More Interviewing Resources
Phone Screen Interview
Practice with Big Interview
Questions For You to Ask
Thank You Letter
The Video Interview


Additional Online Resources
Applying for a Library Job – Don’t Do This!
Hiring Librarians blog: Library Interview Questions Database – real questions contributed by applicants
How to Land a Library Job
Interviewing: Tips from the Other Side of the Table
Library Interview Questions (frequently updated)
Nailing the Library Interview
Public Library Interview Questions from Glass
Suggestions from a Library Search Committee
The Library Interview Process – Public vs. Academic
Tips for Library Job Applicants in a Tight Market


SJSU Library Resources

Markgren, Susanne, and Tiffany Eatman Allen. (2013). Career Q&A: A librarian's real-life, practical guide to managing a successful career. Information Today, Inc. Available through King Library as an ebook

Shontz, Priscilla K., and Richard A. Murray. (2012) What do employers want?: A guide for library science students. Libraries Unlimited Available through King Library as an ebook