You do not need any higher education or previous working experience to apply for a job of a Library Assistant, sometimes also called Library Page. But you need to demonstrate excellent communication skills (both verbal and written) in your job interview, together with attention to detail, motivation, and sense for an excellent customer service.
Your interviewer (typically a head of a library, or someone from the municipality) may ask you some personal and situation questions, while they are trying to understand your readiness for the job, and your attitude to various situations that may happen in a library. Let’s have a look at the questions together.
Why do you want to work as a library assistant?
Let’s be honest. Library page isn’t the most exciting job in the world. You will take care of repetitive tasks day after day–checking books in and out, and helping patrons to find the materials they are looking for. Sometimes you may catalogue new books or help with organizing an event for readers (such as a meeting with a local writer), but the core of your job will consist in repetitive tasks.
Having said that, job of as library assistant actually has some advantages. There are no deadlines and meetings, no managers expecting results from you. You can enjoy steady and regular working hours and low stress levels. You won’t earn millions in this job, but you can certainly make enough to lead a comfortable life.
And you can refer to these things in your answer–low stress levels, steady working hours, communication with the patrons. You should add that you love books, because it would be difficult to enjoy your work if you did not enjoy reading books…
How would you define excellent customer service in a library?
Greeting people with smile, being attentive to their needs, proactively trying to help (for example when they seem to struggle to find something), and politely helping them with each request.
You can also add that an excellent library assistant knows their readers, and can recommend them books according to their taste. Of course this is true after you had this job at least for few months, and had a chance to get to know your readers.
One way or another, you should ensure the interviewers that you understand the importance of an excellent customer service, and will always try to deliver such, to each patron of the library.
This is a repetitive job. What would motivate you to try your best day after day?
You have a few options for a good answer at this point. First one is saying that you prefer repetitive jobs. You like to know your stuff, and are not interested in dealing with new challenges each day in work. Still, you try to perfect the way in which you handle the same duties each day, and enjoy the process of getting better.
Second idea is saying that in your view, the job isn’t repetitive. Surely, you meet patrons and lend them books each day, but different people come to the library every afternoon, new interesting books arrive regularly, and when one has an eye for details they will actually see many differences each day in work.
Third option is saying that you plan to make the job less repetitive. You have interesting ideas of events for patrons on your mind, such as reader-writer meetings, contests for amateur writers from local community, poetry evenings, etc. You’d love to change your ideas into reality, and help with organization of such events… If you’re still not sure, you can check 7 sample answers to this question.
Which books are you reading right now?
Two things are important. You should definitely read something. The genre doesn’t matter, or whether it is a new or an old book. But it would be weird to interview for a job of a library assistant and tell the interviewers that you aren’t reading any literature at the moment…
Second thing is the tone of your voice, the enthusiasm you show for the books of your choice. Interviewers should get an impression that you enjoy reading books, and can talk nicely about them, which means that you’ll be able to make some good recommendations for the readers. We have 7 sample answers to this one too: What books are you currently reading?
Two patrons have a loud conversation in a library, which disturbs other patrons. What will you do?
Library is a place of calmness and contemplation. Silence and order should rule the library rooms, unless you are just interviewing one of the local writers who came to meet the readers of his books.
Ensure the interviewers that you will intervene immediately. But you won’t shout, to add more noise to an already noisy atmosphere in the library. You will quickly walk to the loud patrons, and, speaking in whispers, tell them to shut up (in a polite way, of course :)).
You can also say that if they do not obey your order to be quiet, you will ask them to leave the library.
How would you deal with a hostile or aggressive patron?
Another situational question and test of your attitude to work. You should not propose any heroic action at this point, however. Maybe you are strong and feel ready to pacify an aggressive man, but you should not suggest this option in your interview answer.
Say that you will call a security guard (or the police if there are no guards in the building) and ask them to take care of the aggressive person. You can also suggest that while you are waiting for an arrival of someone from security, you will try your best to protect both the patrons and the facilities in the library.
Special Tip: You can download the full list of questions in a simple, one page long PDF, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
What do you consider your biggest weakness when we talk about a job of a library assistant?
You have a few options at this point. One is saying that you do not think you have any major weakness as a prospective library page–and that is exactly the reason why you decided to apply for the job.
To not sound overconfident you can talk about some other weaknesses you have, such that do not matter for a good library assistant. For example, you do not need leadership skills, or strong IT skills, to excel as a library assistant.
Second option consists in choosing a weakness that matters–for example that you lack concentration sometimes, or could improve on your communication skills. In this case you should say that you are aware of your weaknesses, and try your best to improve on them.
Third option is saying that you will have to do the job for a few weeks first, to see in which areas you struggle, and what you should work on. In this case the key to emphasize your willingness to work on your skills, trying to become an excellent library worker over time.
6 other questions you may face in your library assistant interview
- How would you describe an excellent library assistant in three words?
- What would you do to promote reading in local community?
- What are your salary expectations?
- Look around our library. Do you see any areas for improvement?
- Where do you see yourself in five years from now?
- After everything that has been said in this interview, do you have any questions?
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a job of a library assistant belongs to easy job interviews. This isn’t a fancy job title, and you typically won’t compete with many other people for the job. Often you will be the only applicant.
If you prepare for the questions from this article, and show the right attitude and enthusiasm for library work and for books in general, you should make it, and succeed. I wish you good luck!
May also interest you:
- Guide on how to overcome interview nerves – Get rid of anxiety and deliver your best in the interviews.
- Librarian interview questions – Some of the questions overlap, you should check them and ensure that you are ready.
- Office manager interview questions.