As an aspiring elementary librarian or just one looking to change jobs, it is essential to prepare well for your interview. Your interview is your opportunity to showcase your skills and knowledge, and to convince the hiring panel that you are the best candidate for the job. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you ace your elementary librarian interview with sample elementary librarian interview questions.
Key Responsibilities of an Elementary Librarian
Before diving into the interview preparation, it is important to understand the key responsibilities of an elementary librarian. An elementary librarian plays a critical role in promoting literacy and a love of learning among students. Some of the key responsibilities include:
- Overseeing the library collection and ensuring that it is up-to-date, relevant and diverse
- Vetting new materials including books, digital content, and databases using scholarly review sources
- Providing research and library skills lessons to students, teachers, and staff
- Planning and implementing library programs, such as book clubs and author visits
- Assisting students with selecting and using appropriate resources for their academic needs
- Collaborating with teachers to support the curriculum and integrate technology into the classroom
Common Elementary Librarian Interview Questions
Now that you have an understanding of the role, let’s take a look at some common interview questions you may encounter during your interview:
- Why do you want to work at this school?
- What changes would you make to the library to make it yours?
- Can you tell us about your experience working with children and young adults in a library setting?
- How do you approach selecting books for the library collection?
- How do you collaborate with teachers to augment and support the curriculum?
- Can you give an example of a successful library program you have planned and implemented?
- How do you stay up-to-date with the latest technology and trends in the library field?
- How would you respond to student misbehavior or a student that states that they hate reading?
- What is your favorite book / author and why?
- How would you respond to a book challenge?
- Give an example of how you have differentiated a lesson for students.
How to Answer Elementary Librarian Interview Questions
- Why do you want to work at this school? – Be honest! Look up the school. Find information about it and answer specifically to show you care!
- What changes would you make to the library to make it yours? -Here is where they want to know what makes you unique as a librarian. Think about what things you do that are special. Special projects, Makerspaces, Pumpkin Jack, student artwork, organization, genrefying?
- Can you tell us about your experience working with children and young adults in a library setting? Show off here! Give some specific examples of how you have worked as a librarian or in education. Think especially about your teaching, collaboration, or leadership examples in settings you’ve worked in.
- How do you approach selecting books for the library collection? -Look up the school or district selection policy and say that you would refer to district policy. Reference how you use a balance of professional review sources seeking both positive and critical reviews to select both engaging and age-appropriate texts. Also mention how you speak with students to gauge their interest. You can also mention how you collaborate with staff and other stakeholders to select materials that support curricular needs. Balancing both physical and digital texts and databases.
- How do you collaborate with teachers to augment and support the curriculum? -This one is similar to the previous question. Mention how you attempt to create relationships with staff to collaborate with them. You seek out the appropriate stakeholders to get to know the curricular needs. You use both in-person and digital methods to engage staff so as to engage all staff. You continuously attempt to engage staff, especially new staff so as to support them. You attempt to be part of PLCs and staff collaboration meetings where planning happens. Doing this helps you in purchasing materials that supports the curriculum.
- Can you give an example of a successful library program you have planned and implemented? -Be honest with this one and reflective. The interview team wants to hear about the amazing programs you offer, but they also want to know that you are reflective and can think of ways to improve your programs. A successful librarian is one who can recognize their successes, but can also think of ways to improve. They may also ask about an unsuccessful lesson. Be prepared for a program that you managed that was unsuccessful. Be ready to talk about how you recognized that things weren’t going as planned and how you pivoted to improve the program. Then talk about what changes you would make for the future.
- How do you stay up-to-date with the latest technology and trends in the library field? -This question is about how you network. Do you attend conferences? Participate in professional groups online or in-person? What libraryand technology journals do you read? What professional development do you attend? If you’re new to the field, talk about how you plan to collaborate with other librarians in the district, area or state. Bonus points if you’ve ever presented at any conferences or written for any journals, blogs, etc.
- How would you respond to student misbehavior or a student that states that they hate reading? -This question is asking about your management style. First mention that you would follow any school behavioral management system and attempt to maintain consistency between the classroom and the library. Then talk about your style in particular. Talk about successful ways that you have dealt with this behavior in the past. If you’re a new librarian, try to mention a previous instance of model behavior management that you have seen in the past from a mentor. In terms of the studnet who says that they hate reading, consider talking about getting to know the student to gauge their interests.
- What is your favorite book / author and why? -Honesty with purpose. Is your favorite author fiction? Nonfiction? Picture books? YA? If you’re interviewing for elementary, try to mention an author for elementary books, etc. If you’re changing from one level to another or have more experience in a different level than what you’re interviewing for, talk about how you love learning new literature.
- How would you respond to a book challenge? -This is becoming more and more common these days. If you’ve dealt with a book challenge before that was successful, mention it. Definitely talk about referring to district or school policy or the library policy for the district to follow procedure. Mention how you use professional book reviews and seek to reach a mutually agreeable resolution based on the community member’s concern.
- Give an example of how you have differentiated a lesson for students. -If you have done this before, mention a specific example. If you haven’t, one way that you can differentiate a lesson, especially for ELLs, bilingual, SpEd, etc., would be to use partners, sentence frames, visuals, technology or manipulatives. If you could think of a specific example, always use that example!
Tips For Answering the Questions
With all of these questions, if you can provide a concrete example from your previous work history, DO IT! Giving anecdotal responses allows the interview team to get to know you as a person and gives you opportunities to let your personality come through. Oftentimes, interview teams are only interviewing people who are qualified, and the question that they most need answered is: Can we work with this person? Let them see you as a person and not just another interviewee!
Additionally, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Research the school and the district. Look up their school report card and demographics. This will help you answer the questions: Why do you want to work at this school? If the school or district has any special programs, reference those in your interview! It will show the interview team that this job matters to you enough that you found out more about them just as they tried to find out more about you. Specifically for the library, try to find their board policies on the school or district website and try to locate their policies specific to the library. You can then reference them in your interview!
Questions to Ask Interview Teams
One of the final interview questions is generally “Do you have any questions for us?” Whether the interview team asks this or not, it’s usually a good way to show interest in the position by having a few questions prepared especially if they are specific to the school or schools you are interviewing for. Some questions to ask or to consider are:
- What other duties might I be assigned? Oftentimes the school LMS can be asked to do other jobs like taking on Gifted and Talented, chairing various committees, technology or news broadcast student groups, etc.
- What is your vision for the library and the role it plays in the school?
- How much of a priority is including the media center in the school budget and protecting funding for books and technology?
- What does the library media specialist do? The role of the LMS can often be poorly understood, and this may give you an opportunity to see how much of a priority it is by how well or poorly the interviewers can answer this question.
- What is the role of the librarian in managing student and staff devices? (ie: troubleshooting, repairs, ticketing, etc.)
Preparation is Key
Preparation is key to success in any interview, and the same holds true for an elementary librarian interview. Here are some steps you can take to prepare:
- Research the school and the library: I said it before, but it bares saying again. Before your interview, it is important to research the school and the library. Read the school’s mission statement and any available information about the library. This will give you a better understanding of the school’s culture and the expectations for the role.
- Review the job description and requirements: Carefully review the job description and requirements for the elementary librarian position. Make sure you understand the responsibilities and qualifications required for the role. Many of these are pretty similar, but read them closely. You don’t want a surprise if you get the job!
- Brush up on your knowledge: It is important to keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date in the library field. Take the time to review the latest technology, AASL standards trends and best practices in the field. Have some library lessons in mind or get some free library lesson plans
- Practice your answers: Prepare for the common interview questions listed above by practicing your answers. Think about your experiences and skills, and how they relate to the responsibilities of an elementary librarian and how you can use those to impact the school.
- Dress professionally: Make sure to dress professionally for your interview. Your appearance is an important part of making a positive impression on the hiring panel. As much as I hate saying that how you dress matters, it does. Especially for interviews. If you can find a district dress code for staff, use that to help you know how the staff is expected to dress and plan accordingly.
Showcasing Your Skills and Knowledge
During the interview, it is important to showcase your skills and knowledge. Here are some tips to help you make a positive impression:
- Be confident: Confidence is key in any interview. Make sure to speak clearly and confidently, and maintain eye contact with the hiring panel – everyone on the panel.
- Be articulate: Make sure to articulate your experiences and skills in a clear and concise manner. Remember: use specific examples from your experience to illustrate your points and highlight your strengths.
- Demonstrate your passion for the role: Make sure to demonstrate your passion for the role of an elementary librarian. Show that you are excited about the opportunity to work with the students and staff at that school and support their academic needs.
- Be prepared to ask questions: An interview is also an opportunity for you to ask questions about the school and the library. Prepare a few thoughtful questions that demonstrate your interest in the role and the school using some of the suggested questions above.
- Be yourself: Remember, the most important question you are trying to answer in an interview is: Can we work with you?
Acing your elementary librarian interview requires preparation, showcasing your skills and knowledge, and making a positive impression on the hiring panel. Remember to research the school and the library, review the job description, brush up on your knowledge, practice your answers, and dress professionally for the interview. By following these steps, you will be well on your way to landing your dream job as an elementary librarian!