Do Your Homework: Tips for Interview Prep
This post is part of the “Preparing for a Successful Higher Education Job Interview” blog series that will equip you with the tools and techniques to feel confident and ready. Thanks to Sharon Justice, career and leadership expert, for putting together these helpful and practical tips.
Before any interview, you should know the format. Who will be interviewing you? Will you be speaking with one interviewer or a panel? Will there be other interviewees present? Will the interview be virtual, on the phone, in person?
After you’ve figured out the format, research the questions you’ll likely be asked, and think about how to assess the institution’s culture. You’re being interviewed for a position, but you are also interviewing the organization to see how well you might fit into their culture and their job opportunity. Interviewing is a two-way street, and you need to be prepared for that.
Search the institution online
Look up the institution’s website and any online press releases. Set up job and news alerts for the institution you’ll be interviewing with and stay updated on its current events. The worst thing that could happen is drawing a blank during an interview when a major event is referenced. The best thing would be to demonstrate you’ve done your research.
Additionally, you should look up the institution’s LinkedIn page. If possible, try to find your interviewers and see if you can reverse engineer their profiles to learn more about the institution, department, and its people. Social media is a huge news stream for many universities, so study the institution’s other social accounts. Learn the hashtags, accounts, and be familiar with the latest happenings.
Know the answers to these questions before you interview:
- What is the mission of the College/University?
- What do they specialize in?
- What makes them different from other institutions?
- Have they been in the news lately?
Speak to these questions during your interview. This will demonstrate that you’ve done your homework, and there is great power and value in knowing the institution’s context.
Use Glassdoor and Vault to find crowd-sourced information
Most people are familiar with Indeed and Glassdoor, but many aren’t with Vault. Vault is a corporate-looking view of the organization. Not all institutions are listed or have plenty of information, but the one you’re interested in might be.
Glassdoor is useful for more than job postings. You can get crowd-sourced feedback from the community about the interview process, salary, benefits, and more. A major benefit of Glassdoor is that contributions don’t disappear, so you can access history.
Look at the interview insights on Glassdoor. These are personal accounts of the interview process, including whether offers were offered and accepted, if interviews were negative or positive experiences, and which questions were asked. Take the insights with a grain of salt, but they’re a mostly reliable source of information.
About the Expert
Sharon Justice has worked for over 30 years in various industry sectors focused on strategically growing businesses while equipping leaders and individuals for success. She currently serves as a Leadership Faculty Member at East Carolina University. She offers customized leadership development programs and strategic business consulting through Justice Leadership.