Jessica Olin is the Director of the Robert H. Parker Library at Wesley College in Dover, DE, an academic library with 0-10 staff members. She has been a hiring manager and a member of a hiring committee. She blogs about librarianship at Letters to a Young Librarian and tweets about librarianship, higher ed, popular culture, and other random awesome things @olinj. In her limited spare time, she likes to cross-stitch, watch Doctor Who, and spend time with her geriatric cat Holly.
What are the top three things you look for in a candidate?
Fit for the culture I’m trying to build in the library; asking the right kinds of questions during the interview; seems to have done their research and can articulate why they are a good fit for the position.
Do you have any instant dealbreakers, either in the application packet or the interview process?
Excessive grammar & spelling errors (attention to detail); doesn’t seem to know a lot about the institution; if the applicant doesn’t address an obvious disconnect between the job and their qualifications (way over or way under qualified); inappropriate dress in the interview (way over or under dressed).
What are you tired of seeing on resumes/in cover letters?
Canned comments, form letters, “change agent.”
Is there anything that people don’t put on their resumes that you wish they did?
Not that I can think of
How many pages should a cover letter be?
√ Other: It depends on the position. Entry level or para-professional, no more than one. High level administration, as many as it takes but shorter is better.
Do you have a preferred format for application documents?
√ No preference, as long as I can open it
Should a resume/CV have an Objective statement?
If applications are emailed, how should the cover letter be submitted?
√ As an attachment only
What’s the best way to win you over in an interview?
Calm, confidence, asking the right kinds of questions, eager to participate in the conversation but not dominating it.
What are some of the most common mistakes people make in an interview?
Not asking questions or asking the wrong kinds of questions (don’t ask things that are on the website). When asked “why do you want to work here?” NEVER say “because I need a job,” even if it’s true.
How has hiring changed at your organization since you’ve been in on the process?
More preparation ahead of time, and a bit more scripted for consistency across interviews.
Anything else you’d like to let job-seekers know?
You should be interviewing us even as we are interviewing you. Not everyone is a good fit for every job, and not every job is a good fit for every applicant.