Know the Who, What, Where, and How of the Interview
This 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.
If you’re working with a recruiter, scheduler, or assistant, you might not be given information beyond a location and time. Ask follow-up questions and use resources to dig into the interview’s details.
Who is interviewing you?
Ask who you’ll be speaking with. Are you meeting with one person or multiple people? Are you interviewing with other candidates? If you don’t know, ask your middle person for names.
Where is the interview?
Many institutions are difficult to navigate. You need to know your interview location, find parking, and make sense of the institution’s nomenclature, numbering, and lettering scheme. Get detailed instructions and arrive early to campus. You don’t want to be too early to your interview, so you can wait out the time by getting a feel for the environment.
If it’s a virtual interview, log into the video or call platform before your interview to make sure there are no issues with the login credentials or the link provided to you. Test your internet connection. Familiarize yourself with the technology to help avoid technical difficulties.
What are you wearing?
Always dress for the job you want, not the one you have, so dress up a level. It’s easier to take off a jacket, remove a tie, or roll up sleeves than try dressing up from a casual outfit. Even if you’re told to dress casually, dress up. Your first in-person impression can never be taken back.
How is the interview conducted?
Interview formats have changed from the last 30 years—and even the last year. There is more availability for interviews to be held virtually. In a virtual interview, you might answer questions read by an avatar. Your video and audio will be recorded while a countdown clock runs on the screen. Once you’re done, the video will be sent off to the interviewer to assess. More common today are virtual interviews conducted through videoconferencing tools like Zoom and Go-To-Meeting.
You might find yourself in one of the below interviews:
Group interviews are prevalent for entry-level and competitive jobs, and more common for administrative positions than faculty positions. In these interviews, a collective of candidates gathers at a meet-and-greet or roundtable. The candidates compete against each other while networking with the decision makers, a department of students, faculty, or others.
It can be challenging if you’re not prepared for ongoing conversations, especially if the group is asked a question and everyone is expected to contribute. In these cases, you shouldn’t take charge and be overbearing. You also shouldn’t be the last to answer, because you’ll have to be creative to stand out with your contribution. Try to find a middle ground.
Panel interviews are very common for faculty positions. You’ll be interviewed by at least three people. In some panels, you might find yourself in front of twelve people.
In simulation interviews, you’ll demonstrate your skills in front of an audience. You might be asked to give a presentation to students or administrators.
Onsite / Visit-extended interview
Onsite or visit-extended interviews might consist of a single interview, multiple interviews, one-on-one interviews, meetings with students, panel interviews, or a combination of everything. Often one or two meals are involved, and you might need overnight accommodations.
There might be plenty of activities to get you in front of the community. Sometimes you’ll be given an itinerary for five or six hours of events. These interviews require you to have a lot of stamina.
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.