Interview Questions for a Curator

Curators care for collections at museums and historical sites.
i Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images

When you get a job as a curator, you’ll work in an institution such as a library, a museum or an archive where they collect and preserve objects of cultural value. The questions the interviewer asks you will test your knowledge of collections, including acquisition processes and caring for the items.

Knowledge Questions

    Your interviewers may need to know the extent of your knowledge about the organization's collection, and they’ll ask you to talk about the reasons you want the job because it’s vital that you’re passionate about the objects you’ll study. They also may ask why you think preserving history is important for the human race. You’ll also discuss specific eras. Be ready to tell why these periods are fascinating. If you studied a foreign language to better understand the culture, this is be a good time to talk about it.

Past Experience Questions

    While in college you might have worked as an intern for added experience. This experience counts, even if you weren’t paid. Talk about what you did and learned in the internship programs and any past work experience that shows your strengths and achievements. Interviewers may ask you about museums and galleries that you visited -- use this opportunity to talk about what you found interesting at these places. You even can discuss what you didn’t like, but remain professional. If they ask you about any weaknesses you may have, talk about how you have in the past, and intend to, overcome them.

Future Plans

    Interviewers will want to hear about what you can do to promote their institution, so prepare some ideas about organizing exhibitions and information about the exhibits. It’s also a good idea to prepare for questions regarding current challenges faced by museums and other exhibitions and what you can do to deal with them. Curator turnover rate is low and competition for open spots is stiff. So, if you get a chance to land a position, you’ll want to keep it. Be prepared to talk with the interviewer about your career expectations and your commitment to the profession.

Purchasing and Marketing

    Curators often collect pieces to add to the collection, so the interviewer may test your ability to select the right objects. You also need to show that you can work within budgetary constraints. If the position is with a large organization, you might need to travel a lot. Be prepared to talk about your willingness to travel or even discuss places you traveled to. If the organization has pieces that it plans to sell, you are likely to get questions about the best way to showcase these items and any marketing tools you recommend using.

Other Requirements

    As part of the job, you’ll need to maintain careful records and catalogs of the collection you’re managing, so your prospective employers will quiz you about your database management skills. Curators conduct research and educate others about the pieces in the collection. They interact with the patrons of the institution, art lovers and the general public to create an added interest in the artworks. Your communication skills will, therefore, be under scrutiny. Curators also make security arrangements, so the interviewer will probably ask you about security measures.

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