5 Tips for On-Campus Interviews

by Stefanie Lucas

You survived The Placements Exchange and the first round of phone interviews… congratulations! Some of you are likely getting offered on-campus interviews, and are now thinking about next steps. If you have not been offered an on-campus interview, please do not start to panic. I have talked about this in previous posts, and everyone’s timeline is different. Folks in your cohort who are looking at housing positions are going to probably be moving along faster in the process based on the housing search timeline.

My on-campus interviews each had a different feel, but I was able to determine the pluses and challenges with each place. Here are five tips I would like to share:

1.      Review Interview Schedule- I was sent an interview schedule at least a day in advance, and each one laid out whom I was meeting with and who would be taking me to meals. At most places I interviewed with campus partners, staff from the department and students. I got a good sense of what the department’s values were based on the campus partners around the table and whether or not students were involved in the process. Take time to review the list of whom you are meeting with, and look up campus partners’ websites and read through their bios. This was extremely helpful to ask questions about collaboration and programs.

2.      Preparation- Along the same lines as reviewing your schedule, you will want to take time to prepare. This might seem obvious; however, I was in your shoes once too and this is often an extremely busy time with assistantships, completing/defending your thesis or portfolio, and just trying to graduate. Be confident in the knowledge you have gained. Have someone in your cohort ask you questions, meet with your graduate advisor to prepare, and talk with other folks you know in the field to ask about his or her on-campus interview experiences. If you are asked to present on a topic, practice with students you supervise or work with and colleagues. Get feedback and make improvements before you leave.

3.      Ask Good Questions- At the end of each interview you will likely have time to ask folks questions, so make sure you have a good variety prepared. Folks will give you a lot of information about their feelings of the campus culture and climate if you give them plenty of opportunity. Some of my favorite questions include:

·         How do you celebrate the success of your student staff and colleagues?
·         What ways does the office collaborate with your office and how are partnerships formed?
·         What are some of your favorite campus traditions and how do you/your office participate?
·         What types of things do you do for fun outside of work?
·         Any question to find out more about the city and state where you will live in.

You will also want to find out more about job specifics, but the above questions should give you some real insight into the campus environment and how folks care for each other. You will spend a lot of time with these folks, so make sure you see yourself spending 40-60 hours a week together.

4.      Carry on Interview Attire- Either wear a suite on the plane or carry one on with you. One of my biggest fears is checking a bag and it getting lost. Do not be stuck in jeans for your interview day!

5.      All About Fit- No job is going to be perfect, but in the end you need to find the right fit for you (and partner/family). On-campus interviews can be overwhelming because you are there for such a short amount of time and meeting with lots of folks, but be observant of your surroundings and how folks interact. Be authentic with your interactions and you will find many will do the same. Showcase your true self.

Remember, you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Best of luck with your on-campus interviews and please feel free to tweet me with any questions!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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