How to prepare. Before and After
That call that you have been waiting for finally arrived. And now, what? It is perfectly normal to feel nervous or tense before a face-to-face job interview. But let us think of it as an opportunity to show all your potential and why “you” are the best candidate.
One way to deal with nervousness is by preparing the best you can. You have probably applied for more than one institution.
So, first of all:
- Revise the job posting you used to send your résumé and cover letter. Re-read the job description and other institution’s requirements, such as the skills and qualifications they are looking for and make a reminder list if necessary. Add to the list your experience that highlights the required professional qualifications.
- Revise the customized résumé and cover letter you sent to this prospective employer.
- Revise all the information you gathered about the institution when you prepared your résumé and cover letter, its organizational structure, culture, and mission, values, recent events, student population, and news –especially if the college or university has a newsletter or newspaper. Also, it may be a good idea to know how big the department is and its course offerings. And revisit the institution website for new insights.
Your readiness is the next chapter in your preparation.
- Practice describing yourself. Include what your best characteristics are, what you learned from your last job, a relevant project you worked on, some significant issue you had to deal with in your previous job and how you solved it. How you work in a team, what your goals are, in the short and long term, etc.
- Practice answering interview questions. When asked something, your answer should relate to your professional life, not your private life. Keep focused on the conversation with the search committee because they will most probably ask you about your weaknesses. When this is the case, you need to be sharp enough to answer in a way not to damage the ability you have to do the job—practice explanations for your weaknesses.
- If you have been doing some research, be prepared to summarize it for a knowledgeable and non-knowledgeable audience alike. You may want to explain why you chose it. Also, consider talking about your future research plans concerning grants, etc.
- Be ready to talk about your methodology in class, as well as how you implement technology. Use examples with courses at different levels. Be aware of the institution syllabi. It may be helpful to describe how you motivate students and how you evaluate them.
- Express why you are especially interested in this institution, your willingness to collaborate with your colleagues for the enrichment of your department, and how you would do so.
- Prepare your questions. For example, if there is a particular issue the department is dealing with at the moment, how are personnel assessed, go deeper in the job description asking, for example, about daily responsibilities. By the end of the interview, you may want to ask about the next steps in the hiring process. For instance, if there will be more interviews.
Regarding your appearance:
- Get your clothes ready and groom yourself. Remember that wearing professional attire shows respect for the interview process. Professionally does not mean formally. Your clothes should be appropriate for the job you are applying for.
On the day of the interview:
- Keep your portfolio with paper, pen, samples of your work, and an extra résumé.
- Turn your mobile off.
- Get directions to the location and plan arriving in time –ten to fifteen minutes in advance-.
- When you arrive, use good manners to greet people –smile and shake hands- with eye contact.
After the interview:
- It is advisable to write a thank-you note to the person who interviewed you or the person who led it in case a group interviewed you. If you know the name of all of them, you may want to include them. Be short and concise, but seize this opportunity to mention your skills once again or something you forgot to say in the interview.
- If you do not hear from them in the time frame they gave you, you may want to call or e-mail to follow-up and get an update about the position.
In a job interview, these tips will help you improve your performance. However, whatever you choose to say or not to say, you need to feel comfortable with yourself.