It is common for museum job interviews to incorporate a formal test element. On the first occasion that I was told that I would be sitting a test as part of an interview, I panicked. I was scared. I really had no idea what to expect.

As I have grown more experienced over the years, I have learnt that, on the whole, interview tests are usually nothing to worry about. Often, there are no right or wrong answers. What the panel are looking for will depend on the role in question, but as with so many other things, you can usually deduce this by carefully reading the job advert.

Thus, in this post I make no attempt to provide answers to possible test scenarios. Instead, I have asked around on Twitter for examples of tests encountered by other museum professionals – and I have chucked in a few examples from my own experience. I only hope that this flavour of the sorts of things that might come up will go some way to lessening your abject terror of the unknown. Enjoy!

Tweet by Tom Hopkins. So I might do a blog post on #museumjobs interview tests. Anyone got any examples they'd care to share?Tweet by Attendants View. Sit in this room and use this information to write a letter in response to a potential visitor query. The role was FOH/ reception desk.Tweet by Attendants View. Do 2 to 5 minutes presentation about some aspect of the site's history. Then answer questions about your choices, how you researched etcTweet by Briony Hudson. I've set a test previously asking candidates to prioritise a fictional in-tray. No correct answer, but good insight into how they workTweet by Briony Hudson. Also supplied a range of source material relating to one object, given prep time and then asked for a brief talk about said objectTweet by Clare Palscow. I've been given an accession file and asked to discuss what's missingTweet by Clare Plascow. Also the standard "How would you move this [insert random object here] from this table to our store"Tweet by Flora Fyles. Was given an object and a catalogue sheet, and asked what I'd check to make sure the two matched up. Forgot to say accession number.Tweet by Karen Johnston. Had a few, identify objects and talk about them how to engage people, ask questions around tour of museum (had loads but which weren't appropriate for a tour)Tweet by Karen Johnston. Also had to draft a finance proposal how to obtain money etc and had to do an excel times test pre interview to work out missing recordsTweet by Laura Jayne Gardner. I had to pick suitable photographs from a collection for a hypothetical obituary.Tweet by Lily Garnett. Object handling - from pathology specimens to ceramics and all in between. Oh and once was asked to do origami, wasn't expecting that!Tweet by Lucie Mascord. Conservation treatment plan for dehydrated lamprey. They were really looking for our method of observation, safe handling and tidy desk work.Tweet by Matthew Johnston. Couple of museum documentation ones. Been given an example record and asked to annotate which bits I'd include as a bare minimum.Tweet by Matthew Johnston. In another I was given a spreadsheet of catalogue data to clean. Very therapeutic before the interview - love a bit of data cleaning! #geekTweet my Marie Louse Kerr. Write object label (trepanned skull), handle and assess object, give PowerPoint presentations...Tweet by Marie-Louise Kerr. Worst was interview panel of 3 folk and one spent whole time gazing out window and ignoring me. Still not sure if that was part of the test...Tweet by Murphy Peoples. We usually ask outreach presenters to prepare a 5 min presentation for 4 year olds that matches one of our natural science exhibits. Panel acts as four year olds!Tweet by Robyn Haggard. Use the information given to say why/how/what options are available to recall a loan object and draft the recall letterTweet by Tom Hopkins, Object on table - what do you know about it already, how would you find out more - hint - use the accession number!Tom3

Tweet by Tom Hopkins. Transcribe this 19th century letter with terrible handwriting and full of complicatd horticultural terms into MS Word.Tweet by Tom Hopkins. Facsimile of medieval manuscript - tells us about it, how would you interpret it for a child, how would you market an exhibition about it.

Tweet by Vicky Donnellan. Given example database record and asked to point out errors and how I would improve it, for museum documentation roleTweet by Vicky Donnellan. For another role I was set various tasks to do on the database - how many objects from x place or y donor. That was stressful!


I hope you find these useful – and thank you to everyone who contributed above!


One thought on “Interviews: Part Three. Tests

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