Saturday, March 26, 2011

Managing the messy....

So now is the messy-time with searches. For those who went to TPE they might be already inviting to campus or not yet able to invite to campus. Some are waiting until ACPA interviews to decide on campus invites. Some aren't bothering with ACPA placement and candidates here have missed out. Some don't yet have confirmed vacancies and have to wait until they do. You see- it's messy- for us, and for you. Have patience, it all starts to sort out over the next few weeks. In fact, as the domino effect kicks in and those current RD's who are applying for next-step positions start to get those jobs and resign from RD positions, we employers get to bring even more candidates to campus! This process can take a few months- and some of our best RD hires have come in June or July. So trust me when I say- things will work out, it just takes patience.

That said- some advice from this end for on-campus interviews and considering your future:

1) DO not accept an on-campus offer from a school you have no intention of working for. It wastes our resources and wastes your energy. It's not fair to us or to other candidates to take one of our valid campus spots if you already know that we are not the place for you.

2) Be selective- not desperate. Do not say yes to places just because you are feeling worried that no one else will want you. Be selective- this is a two-way street! You choose us as much as we choose you. So be choosy. Yes- going on campus can indeed help you decide if a place is right for you- but if you already know, campus is unlikely to change that. Consider what your "gut" tells you- and ask your closest friends/partner/family- when they heard you talking about XXX institution, how did you sound? Elated, excited, enthusiastic? Great!! Bland, monotone, talking yourself into it? No way!!

3) Navigate the process of when you go to campus carefully. Some campuses can do rolling offers, some cannot. Ask- we'll tell you (for the most part) and you'll want to consider that when timing your campus visit. If given the option- don't be the first to campus. Don't go right after your comprehensive exams (if you take them) or thesis defense. Do NOT serve on-call the night before you go on an interview- switch with a colleague! Respond quickly to our calls or emails- we might move on to other candidates in the meanwhile and you could lose out. If you interviewed with us at TPE, or are interviewing at ACPA- and YOU decide you are not interested in us any more, please do us the favor of telling us and withdrawing from our search before we call to offer you a campus visit.

4) Remember-you are "on" as a candidate from the moment you leave your house. Consider what you wear on the plane/train/in the car on the way there- you never know who you'll come across in your travels and you want to look professional-casual. You also never know when your luggage might get lost- try to do only carry-ons if you can so your clothing and toiletries are in hand on the plane! If you do have to check a bag, know that what you wear on the plane might be what you end up wearing to interviews if your bag gets lost.

The conversations you have, even if on the phone and "overheard" by those nearby- could also help or hurt your candidacy. If you are on the phone telling a friend that you are coming to XXX institution but aren't really excited about it and are using it as a practice school- you never know who might be around to hear you and drop a quick call to tell us that's how you feel. I have cancelled an interview with a candidate on-site because they told the shuttle driver they thought they could never live here, and the shuttle driver happened to be an RA in our department and told us what the candidate said. I checked in with the candidate, they admitted it, and we canceled and sent them right back home.

5) Bring any handouts, laptops, flashdrives or other materials with you on the plane- do NOT check them!!! Do NOT count on there being a copy machine anywhere near you once you arrive. Bring extra copies of your materials, and have any presentation saved in multiple formats. Some of us are very understanding, others of us are not so much. Coffee stains on handouts do happen- if you have extras then you are set, if you don't- you are explaining them away.

6) Remember to relax and truly be yourself. The campus interview is a time to show us more of who you are, for real- because hopefully the "real" you is who will come work for us, and I'd rather see that real you at the interview than two months later when you start work. If you are an introvert- show us that- in all the strength of the introvert! If you are a little liberal and funky- show us that too. You want us to choose the whole you, not the interview-you, show us and tell us who that "you" is and the process of mutual selection will continue to be successful for you.

7) Do NOT tell us how passionate and committed to Social Justice you are. Someone from TPE tweeted something that basically said "Oh- you're committed to social justice, let me introduce you to 1000 of your new best friends" get the idea. This is today's version of "I'm a people person". So don't tell us that you are committed- tell us what you've learned, done, and how you incorporate issues of justice and inclusion into your every day life and work. If you don't have that yet- spend the next few weeks before you graduate thinking about that and developing skills and answers to that question.

8) Be ready to ask us great questions- and have enough questions prepared to ask some of everyone you meet. We get it that by the end of the day all your questions have been answered, but, if I ask if you have any questions and you say "no"- it puts a small seed of wondering in my head. At the very least ask every person you meet why they chose to come to XXX institution AND then ask them what keeps them there. Ask them things like- if you could change a few things to make your work more meaningful what would you change? If you could do a few things that would enhance the experience of your students what would you implement/do? Ask questions that get people talking about them- these are your future colleagues and you should be choosing them as much as they are choosing you. You can't be choosy if you don't know anything about us.

9) Relax, have fun, and when given a campus tour ask them to show you one or two hidden gems of the campus that people don't typically know about until they work there. Is there a greenhouse or arboretum, an amazing mural in a lounge somewhere, an archive in the library, an art museum...what's special there- what are they proud of and what does this campus value? That's what you will start to find out.

Enjoy the experience- and good luck!

The Employer


  1. This is all great advice- and very true!
    It has been hard to turn down perfectly good offers- based on fit.
    But- I feel good about it!

    Now if only xxx university would call me! (didn't know they were rated nc-17 though...)

    Seriously- thanks for a great post - affirming many things that I'm worried about!

  2. Terrific post. Thank you for all the useful advice.

  3. It's been a little while since we heard from you, any thoughts on phone interviews?