Library On/Library Off

Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

Some real-life data librarian interview questions

with 2 comments

I was recently lucky enough to see the following from-real-life interview questions asked by major universities in the hiring of data librarians, and wanted to share them with you. Though many are standard, and likely not a surprise to anyone who has interviewed before, I found the question about travel particularly interesting – surely universities want well-rounded, worldly librarians, but I can’t help but rankle at the potential bias toward those who are more affluent.

Although these are specific to a small subset of academic library jobs, I’m also curious to hear from you about questions you’ve been asked (or have asked others) in library interviews – what surprised you? What questions were you not prepared for? What lessons have you learned from seeking jobs (or hiring) in LIS?

  • What are your professional aspirations, and how do you see this position fitting them?
  • Are you more interested in data or in science librarianship?
  • Based on what you know of this position, what are the major challenges and how would your skills address them?
  • In reference to the role of libraries in e-science, Anna Gold has stated - ‘Key to libraries or librarians playing more ‘upstream’ roles in data science is their ability to position themselves as partners in research.’ What strategies might you engage to do this? What challenges do you foresee?
  • How do you see the relationship of the data curation position with science librarians and faculty, given existing relationships?
  • Have you travelled and how many languages can you speak?
  • What about this position is appealing to you?
  • A major part of this position is to create best practices in data management, support data standards and data curation, and promote data access and reuse for the science community. all of these will involve outreach efforts to other librarians and scientists.
  • How would you establish such outreach and who would you engage?
  • What might the outcome of these efforts be?
  • What role do such professional users of the system play in its design?
  • Describe your technical skills including data frameworks and standards for data and metadata description, curation, preservation and access.
  • What do you consider the most significant gaps amongst the integration of library, data management and scientific workflows and what actions can help fill these gaps?
  • Talk about a particular challenging situation in coordination, and how you successfully resolved the challenge.
  • Describe your ideal work situation.
  • Do you have questions for us about the institution and/or position?
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Written by nicolibrarian

August 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. I’m only finding this posting now – interesting list; thanks for compiling it! Re the travel question – I note it doesn’t ask whether someone has travelled abroad – could be easy to answer it by talking about travel within the US or Canada. I think the reason for the question is to find out an individual’s level of curiosity and ability to adapt – no one can argue that (willingly!) getting out of one’s direct physical area exposes one to all kinds of new perspectives and ways of life – almost no matter where you go. (and there are lots of ways to travel almost anywhere on a budget… )

    Nettie Lagace

    August 6, 2012 at 7:02 pm


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