As an archivist, you must be organized with your work at all times. Talk to the interviewer about your organizational skills in a work environment by providing an example of your capabilities.
"I believe excellent organizational skills are essential to perform the duties of an archivist successfully. If I have to archive numerous documents in a short period, I prioritize in order of their respective deadlines. I will use lists to keep track of upcoming duties and a calendar to keep track of deadlines. Regarding the records, I will ensure to keep different records in their respective places to facilitate the organizational process."
"I understand that organization is a high priority in this industry. While obtaining my bachelor's degree in library science, we learned a great deal about the importance of a well-organized project. Do you use any particular software to keep your projects organized here? I was trained on LOCKSS and am confident that I will be able to learn any software programs quickly."
"I have stellar organization skills and am also well-trained in numerous software programs for archivists. These include ArchivesSpace, LOCKSS, and PRONOM. In addition to these, I keep an organized team by utilizing project management software such as Trello."
The interviewer is looking for some indication that you are responsible and careful with your work. Tell the interviewer whether you ever misplaced documents, and how resolved the situation. If you have never lost a record, that's great news! Be sure to reinforce this by discussing how you keep yourself organized.
"Fortunately, I have never misplaced documents. I am extremely organized and always keep track of all duties and documents. Rest assured, I would exercise the same diligence while working for your facility."
"I am new to my career and extra diligent in the workplace. I think that misplacing a document would be a terrible feeling. I have helped other co-workers when they have misplaced a document and would not want to be in that situation."
"Earlier in my career, I displaced an important file. It was during a large project, and the repercussions would have been huge. I tracked my steps, found the documents, and vowed to remain more organized after that incident."
Show the interviewer that you will still get the job done even when you aren't excited about the task at hand. Think about a time when there was a work-related task that you did not want to do. Perhaps the dreaded file room needed to be purged of outdated files to make room for new data. Tell the interviewer what your task was, and explain why you were not excited about it. Be sure to tell the interviewer that even though you were not enthusiastic about the job, you made it happen promptly knowing that it would help the organization as a whole.
"I like to set rewards for myself when there are undesirable tasks at hand. For instance, a large part of what I do is review all electronic documents that come into our portal on a weekly basis. Sometimes there will be up to 200 documents to review. They all begin to look the same after awhile, so I have set a goal to look at 20 at a time, give myself a quick break, then return to the task."
"I was once handed the task of cleaning out a huge amount of data. It had become a mashup of random documents that we no longer needed. I did not want to do it, but I found the motivation to complete the task by focusing on how a more organized system would make everyone's life easier."
"We all have parts of our work that we need to keep motivated to complete. I try to think of the bigger picture and focus my energy on how the work to be done will help contribute to that."
As an archivist, you will often need to deliver more than the bare minimum on a project. Surprises may come up, and the interviewer wants to see that your dedication to your craft. Show that you can react appropriately when you know that your employer has a need that goes beyond your usual day-to-day expectations.
"Last week I noticed that my manager was running behind on an important project for one of our most significant clients. I offered to take on some of her workload so that she would have the time to complete the schedule. We worked together for a couple of overtime hours that day and were able to catch her up on everything. It felt good to help."
"I enjoy going above and beyond in my work. One example would be the overtime hours that I put in while completing my practicum. I wanted to leave a good impression on the hiring manager so that there would be a potential opportunity for he and I to work together in the future."
"I often go above and beyond what is expected of me. Most recently, I agreed to cover for a co-worker who was on short-term medical leave. I worked 10 hour days for two weeks so that our work did not suffer any setbacks."
Break down for the interviewer your span of archival experience. If you do not yet have any professional experience, tell the interviewer about the archival work you performed in a volunteer capacity or through your internship. You can also mention the archival work that interests you the most, just be sure that it suits the type of work they do in the role for which you are interviewing.
"The archival work I am the most familiar with is historical and museum-related work. I became familiar with this work while volunteering as a student archivist with the National Museum of Natural History. I found my passion there."
"I recently completed my internship with the Museum of Modern Art in New York. I would say that I am most familiar with archiving in the field of art; however, I am interested in other areas such as government documentation and artifacts."
"I have spent the majority of my career working with artifacts and historical documents. The fact that you have a strong focus in these specific areas is a large reason why I applied to work here."
The interviewer wants to know if there are any other areas of interest, aside from archiving, that excite and motivate you. If the interviewer sees your choice differs significantly from this position, they may worry you will not commit long-term should an opportunity in a different career path present itself. Talk about any other areas of interest but be sure to bring the conversation back around to this role, and your excitement for the opportunity.
"If I could choose another career path, I would go into an education-related field such as becoming a history teacher. With that said, I am passionate about archival work. Hence I see myself staying in this field for the long term."
"If I could not be an archivist, I would likely have become a librarian. The fields are closely related and, as a librarian, I would be able to use my skills in organization and interest in literature."
"I certainly do not regret the direction I have taken my career; however, if I had to start over in a new direction I would likely pursue my Degree in Education and become a professor. Both of my parents were teachers, and they seemed to have a very fulfilling career. I enjoy coaching and leading others so, any tasks in my current career that related to these skills, are very welcome."
Tell the interviewer the reasons why you believe this profession is essential for society by looking at the big picture and the impact of the work involved. Do not hesitate to demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for this trade.
"This profession is essential for society because we are working with documents and artifacts that relate to pieces of history. These will be passed on from generations to generations and will contribute to the collective knowledge of past decades and centuries."
"I believe that being an archivist is an important job because we are preserving important parts of history. Everyone likes to go to museums and explore. Without us, that may not be an activity we could do."
"Society needs to know some of the incredible things that history has to offer. Whether that be art, medical devices from history, military artifacts, or reptile bones. History has endless stories to tell, and as an archivist, I am thrilled to be a part of those stories."
The majority of people will work overtime hours or take work home with them on occasion. Talk to the interviewer about how frequently to take your work home.
"I make sure to utilize my work hours very efficiently, so the only time that I take my work home is when there is an extremely stringent deadline. I would say that, overall, I take my work home maybe twice per month. It's all about being diligent with your time in the office!"
"I try not to take my work home with me. Everyone needs downtime. However, if something needs to get done, I will get it done, even from home."
"I take my work home with me whenever it is necessary. Some positions I have held, I work from home nearly every day. Other roles, such as my current position, I work from home just a couple of times per month."
Talk to the interviewer about any interest that you have in creativity and how you have implemented that desire in the workplace. Even if you do not consider yourself to be a 'creative person,' there is a chance that you have made creative minded decisions in your career.
"I do consider myself to be a creative individual. One example of this would be the scripts that I crafted for our marketing team. They were lively and effective, and museum visits increased by 23% in the first 90 days of implementation."
"Having been a musician all my life, I do believe that I am a creative person. I like to exercise my creative side on the weekends when practicing with my band."
"I am someone who alternates back and forth with the right/left brain, but I will always consider myself a very creative person. I admire the creativity and unconventional thinking in business and arts."
Tell the interviewer what you pride yourself the most on as an archivist. You can mention any previous feedback you have received on your skills, qualifications, and strengths that contributed to your success in this industry.
"My previous supervisor would say that I am a very meticulous and hard worker. I review my work at least twice to ensure accuracy and am more than willing to work longer hours to get the job done."
"The feedback that I have received in the past includes comments on my attention to detail and ability to understand complicated concepts."
"My previous supervisor and I became very close over the years. He would say that he greatly appreciated my willingness to work overtime and reach project deadlines on time."
The interviewer wants to know that you can handle the workload required of you in this position and that you will not become overwhelmed if/when workloads unexpectedly increase. When workloads increase, stress levels do too. How do you react?
"When I have a large workload on my plate, I do not stress over the tasks that are in front of me. Rather, I make a simple plan of which tasks are a high priority and which tasks are a lower priority. The higher priority tasks, I complete first. Through this system, I can focus on my tasks individually, rather than stress out by the multitude of tasks ahead of me."
"Here are some suggestions on how to handle a large workload: - List your tasks and prioritize them - Think of which functions add to the company's bottom line, and start there (Closest to the money!) - Exhale. Relax for a minute and collect yourself - Organize your tasks by which ones you can complete independently and which ones you need help with - Take sufficient breaks, so you do not exhaust yourself - Communicate your struggles with your leadership or team "
"I first take a step back and make a list of all the deliverable work that I have. Then, I prioritize the list by deadline and ease of completion. I always try to hit the easy tasks first and get them off my to-do list. Feeling like I am making progress keeps me motivated."
Company culture and fit is a significant factor when considering a career move. Assure the interviewer that you have put thought, research, and consideration into how the company culture will work for you.
"I have researched your company through your social media channels and on glassdoor.com. Your employees have great things to say, and overall it seems that you have fun while you work. I am looking forward to joining an organization, like yours, that is upbeat and thoughtful with an eye on helping the community at the same time."
"I read many positive reviews online about your organization and company culture. You offer great incentives to keep people motivated, and it seems to be the type of fast-paced environment that values innovation and performance. My type of place!"
"Your website's information was very appealing, but there were mixed reviews online. I do not put a lot of emphasis on reviews, as I know that most people only take the time to leave a review if they are upset. There was only a handful total, and I see that you have hundreds of employees."
Ensure to review the job posting before the interview to know whether a master's degree is a requirement for the role. Often, an organization will list their 'nice to have's' as 'must-have's' knowing they will likely need to flex on their ask. If it is a requirement, you should know a master's degree will eventually be required, even if you applied for the position with only a bachelor's degree. In this case, you should expect your employer to prefer a candidate who will be pursuing a master's degree at some point in time. If you already know a master's degree is a requirement but you are fortunate enough to be interviewed despite only having a bachelor's degree, and you indeed wish to eventually study for a master's degree, prepare an answer beforehand. Add that the pursuit of this masters will not interfere with your work and that you are serious about your application. Employers are looking for commitment.
"I am interested in obtaining a master's degree, however on a part-time basis in the evenings/weekends. I applied for your position as I am serious about working for your company on a full-time basis, and as such, I will not let my education interfere with my availability."
"I am certainly interested in continuing my education, but it would be in tandem with working full time. Are you willing to flex on this requirement for a candidate willing to grow with your organization?"
"I am happy you asked that. I am a few courses for my Master's degree. I am completing it online and have enjoyed the educational challenge so far."
Tell the interviewer about your post-secondary education and link your training to this particular position. Ensure to prepare beforehand by reviewing the job posting, the company website, and social media pages to familiarize yourself with the company and determine how you can contribute.
"As you can see on my resume, my major was art history in university. Based upon the comprehensive courses taken, and the numerous historical subjects studied, I am confident in the knowledge I will bring to your organization."
"In your job description, you mentioned a preference for a degree in art history. I recently completed my degree in art history and a very informative practicum at the local art museum."
"My training has been primarily in US History and Military History. I have a Masters' Degree in English as well. All of these components make me a great fit for this position as it meets all of the must-have's in your job posting."
If there are physical requirements for the job, they were listed in the job posting to which you applied. If there are physical requirements, the interviewer is assuming you reviewed the job posting before applying for the position, and as such, there will not be any limitations. If you answer no and physical requirements are mentioned in the job posting, the interviewer may assume you are unprepared for the interview.
"I reviewed your job posting before the interview and am aware of the physical requirements. I have no physical restrictions and can lift heavy objects when necessary."
"I do not have any restrictions when it comes to the physical requirements listed in your job posting. Rest assured, I am in great shape and ready to fulfill all the tasks listed in your description."
"I have a back injury that sometimes gives me trouble, but with a brace, I can complete the physical tasks, as described."
Archivists should be strong communicators in all ways. In which manner do you prefer to communicate - written or verbal? Discuss your preference with the interviewer. Regardless of your choice, ensure the interviewer that you have strengths in both written and verbal communication.
"I do not lean one way or another when it comes to verbal or written communication. Both are equally important to me. If I have to choose just one, I will choose written communication as one can always look back on written communication for reference."
"I like to leverage both methods of communication. Sometimes, situations call for verbal communications and other times, written. As a rule of thumb, I tend to practice verbal communications, with written follow up or vice versa. Utilizing multiple methods creates repetition and therefore, change."
"I am comfortable with both so that it would depend on the message, I suppose. Big news needs to be communicated verbally and followed up in written form, but quick messages or simple changes can be communicated effectively through email without the hassle of breaking away from work for a call or meeting."
The interviewer wants to gauge if you can maintain healthy relationships in the workplace. They want to know more about the dynamics with your coworkers. Think about what you enjoyed about some of your relationships with past coworkers. Excellent communication, sense of humor, and support are all great qualities that make co-worker relationships healthy and harmonious.
"I get along great with my coworkers. I try to maintain a positive attitude and be supportive, whether I am offering to assist someone who is overwhelmed, or if I am taking time to listen to someone who is having a bad day."
"I can work with pretty much anyone. If we don't see eye to eye, I will work to find common ground."
"I have never had an issue when it comes to getting along with others at work. I am a conscious communicator and am sure always to express myself in a kind and professional manner."
Answer by providing an example of a time you incorrectly appraised a document, how this error came to your attention and what you did to rectify the situation. If that never happened to you, explain how you would react and remedy the situation.
"Fortunately, I have never incorrectly appraised a document. I pride myself on my excellent organizational skills and, and I am also extremely meticulous. I will review any document I am working on twice to ensure no mistakes are made."
"I am not at the level in my career where I am responsible for appraising documents. With that said, I am cautious with my work and know to triple check my work. I would also ask for a supervisor to review my appraisal before it was sent out."
"Earlier in my career, when I first started appraising documents, I had my wires crossed on a few facts regarding the background of the record. Luckily I had a supervisor who caught the error before the appraisal went out to our clients. I now ensure that my work always sees another set of eyes."
The interviewer would like to get to know you, and your interests, on a different level. Tell the interviewer the eras of history you enjoy studying the most. Always do your due diligence before an interview to review the company's website and social media pages. This way you can gear your answer towards the areas this company focus' on.
"I love studying artifacts and records from the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Your expertise in this industry is what led me to apply here."
"Since I am newer to my career as an archivist, I have yet to find a significant niche. With that said, my exposure to government records has been fascinating. I look forward to doing that type of work here."
"All of history is interesting to me! My particular favorite is military history. The stories, artifacts, and documents are full of interesting stories and fascinating people."
Make sure always to do your due diligence before an interview. Review the company website and social media pages to familiarize yourself with the company and products/services/initiatives offered. Tell the interviewer why you applied to this particular position and why you would like to work for this employer, specifically. For instance, mention a program or service you saw on their website that excites you. You could also say a specific skill that you look forward to putting to work for them.
"I applied for this position because I have the required educational and professional qualifications. I would love to work for your company because of the range of artifacts and documents you are responsible for such as documents on historical policy."
"I applied here because I have had my eye on your company since I graduated with my degree in archival studies. I met a couple of people who work for you, at an industry event, and they had great things to say."
"Your organization is top rated for preserving significant historical documents. After working in this industry for a decade, this would be a dream career move for me. I look forward to growing my career with such a reputable organization."
Answer the interviewer by pointing out to the artifacts and records that the institution manages. Do your due diligence before every interview to prove you know who you are applying for and that you are looking for employment with this company.
"I saw on your website that you collect government records and artifacts. This is extremely exciting for me since I majored in US History."
"Before coming here today, I researched your organization fully. I am well versed in the types of documents that you file and preserve. I also know that you use the same archival software that I was trained on during my practicum."
"Over the past eight years, working as an archivist, I have met many people who work for your museum. I am very familiar with the types of records that you keep."
Archivists assemble, catalog, and preserve valuable collections of information that have historical value. They spend a major part of their work day selecting, assessing, and arranging materials, preserving perishable documents, retrieving misplaced or lost documents, and making the archives accessible to users. Archivists are typically employed to work in higher educational facilities, libraries, local and central government, museums, and specialist repositories such as the Public Record Office.
Anyone wishing to pursue a career as an archivist must complete an ARA accredited postgraduate diploma after obtaining a bachelor's degree in any discipline. Excellent organizational, administrative and communications skills are essential attributes for this role. Archivists must also be methodical and logical, with excellent computer skills.
Interviewers will be most interested in knowing why you chose this particular career. They will also want to know if you have done an internship or had any first-hand work experience. You will most likely have to undergo a period of on the job training to learn more about the procedures and processes of that particular facility. Make sure all of your replies emphasize your interest and knowledge of the role. Going through commonly asked questions and practicing how to answer them will help you build your confidence before the interview. You can find these questions and answers listed at Mock Questions.