Interviewing notes

I am beginning the interview process and want to be as prepared as possible. So I’ve been hitting the net again to find out what kinds of things will happen during the interview. (I’ve done this before, but I want a refresher, specifically looking at types of questions asked.)

Of course I went to Community College Dean, because he’s been at several different types of colleges and he has a wide academic readership. I found several things I want to remember. (And, as far as blogging, I wish I knew how to do the “read more” section. Maybe I should learn that this weekend.)

I also happen to like statements that show some sort of learning. “I discovered that I had to adjust x when y happened.” “The style I had developed at Snooty U had to be modified when I taught at Working Class College.” Statements like those suggest actual thought, and the ability to recognize (and adjust) when something isn’t working. I like people who can learn from their failures, which presumes that they can recognize their failures as such. I instinctively distrust people who never admit mistakes.

from the comments:

I would only add, from the world of a SLAC, that it’s important to stress your commitment to teaching the skills and habits of liberal education that cross disciplinary boundaries – writing, speaking, critical thinking, research, etc.. At a SLAC, if your teaching statement is too rooted in discipline-specific kinds of things, it might suggest you aren’t a good fit for the broader atmosphere of the SLAC. Yes, you should talk about how you teach your discipline, but it should be embedded in the broader pedagogical goals of communication skills and critical thinking.

One key topic I did not see in DD’s article is “different learning styles”. That is a big deal at a CC, particularly as it impacts a diverse student body (which includes older students and veterans, not just minority groups). I will also second the reference to fostering “critical thinking”. That is a big deal at our CC, and not just for new hires.

Finally, be sure you can back up your claims. Don’t say it if you don’t do it. Your sample teaching exercise needs to reflect the philosophy you articulated in your letter.

These are questions to ask during the dean’s interview. (I didn’t know there was such a thing.)

I expect candidates to come in with questions about tenure, salary, benefits, and parking. (Parking is the one constant.) The more impressive ones ask questions about enrollment trends at the college (both overall and specific to their department), strategic direction of the college, faculty turnover rates (VERY revealing), key issues facing the college in the near future, gender balance on the faculty, student demographics, funding for both technology and faculty development (not the same thing, though they overlap), the state of outcomes assessment at the college (you don’t have to care, but it’s good form to ask), and the overall budgetary health of the college.

Things to bring to an interview (I would NOT have thought of this without reading.):

c.v., business cards, a sample syllabus. Business cards. I don’t have those.

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