Reader query: interview advice?

Not sure if this really needs a post, but thought I’d shoot all the fantastic feminists here to see if they had time for some advice.

I’m an adjunct at a community college and love teaching there. I’ve been interviews for adjunct positions at other community colleges and all have gone well (i.e. I’ve gotten hired to teach a class for each academic interview I’ve completed). Now I’m up for a tenure track position at a community college and I’m not sure what to expect. The process seems pretty formal (3 interview questions that I’ll get to look at 20 minutes prior to the interview and a teaching demonstration). Does anyone have any advice on what kinds of questions to expect? What I ought to wear? Whether I should take out my (small and unobtrusive) nose ring? (I gender identify as female and typically wear simple a-line skirts. I’m rather tall, but don’t shy away from wearing heels.)

Any advice is appreciated – especially on what kinds of questions I might expect. (I imagine that the clothing will just have to sort itself out!).

5 thoughts on “Reader query: interview advice?

  1. I have never interviewed at a community college, so I’ll wait to see what others report as their experience with questions at interviews.

    But my clothing advice is what you’ll hear from most philosophers: Be yourself, and wear what will be comfortable and boost your sense that you look nice and look like you. If you typically wear A-line skirts, then wear one, and if you have a comfortable pair of shoes that you always wear with the skirt of your choice, just stick to your style. If taking out your wee nose ring will result in you self-consciously touching your nose a lot, then leave the nose ring in! Whether it’s good or not, it is the case that relaxed confidence and cheer carries one much farther in interviews than adherence to any imagined codes of dress. So if you can be neat and believe you look well, you’re doing exactly what you need to do to conduct yourself excellently at an interview.

    I have interviewed for many jobs in philosophy, usually successfully, and have always done so in slacks and a sweater I like. When I try to do something more alien with my appearance in order to be proper, I get distracted by the way the new clothes feel, or annoyed with the way new trousers resettle themselves when I sit, and so on. Just go with what you know!

  2. Which is awesome advice to the letter-writer. But for others– if what you know is shorts and slip-flops, ratty jeans, or furry costumes, DON’T go with what you know.

  3. Answering the clothing question is hard, too, without some context. If I were living in a very conservative part of the country or in a place where students frequently “dress up” to go to class, I might dress a bit differently than I would in a very laid-back or liberal university town (the same goes for whether or not I’d consider removing a nose ring). But I agree with the general advice to wear something that will be comfortable for you (and not make you feel like you’re “not yourself”). Good luck!

  4. I teach at a large CC and have been on several hiring committees. While not knowing what practices apply generally, here’s my take.

    The questions will probably be very generic interview questions. “Tell us about a case when you had to deal with a difficult student”, and so on. We actually have to pick from an approved list, and must ask the same questions to every candidate. (There’s a bit more flexibility for follow ups.)

    Since they will care not at all about research, and might even be slightly suspicious of someone with these ambitions (“she might not be happy here”), turn every answer back to student success – how your research is applicable to the classroom, maybe how you be interested in leading or starting a student club, being involved in ______ history month. If the college has a particular activity they are known for in the community, tie your interests to that, and so on.

    Dress in a mainstream professional manner, and if its not a big deal for you, I’d remove the ring. Be positive and energetic, above all – and good luck.

  5. @ajkreider- Thanks for the comments re: questions! And thanks to all for the advice on what to wear. I will take out the nose ring- on the theory that it’s not a big deal for me but it might be a big deal to someone on the hiring committee and why let it distract them from what an awesome educator I am! thanks again!

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