Monday, December 15, 2008

Community college interviews, the process

So, yes -- the academic job market sucks, and so do the rest of the job markets around the country. This means that MORE people will be going to community colleges. Between the 'going back to school to get a degree' to the 'I'll go here to get my general eds done until my prents can afford to send me to a 4-year school', community college enrollment will probably grow significantly... ours already seems to be up quite a bit for Spring 09.

So, it is quite possible that you'll end up with an interview at a community college. It may be the case that our processes at BNCC are diferent --- so take that into consideration...

How the process is different from interviews at a research university or SLAC:
  • Your interview will be 1 hour long, no more.
  • You'll be interviewed by a group of 6-9 folks, only one or two will be from your discipline. The others are administrators and faculty from other disciplines.
  • You will be given a set of questions about 30 minutes in advance.
  • You'll have to do a 10 minute teaching demonstration.
  • You are expected to pay for your own travel etc...

Notice -- there is NO budget for interview costs. You won't get a meal, you won't have any informal chances to talk to folks etc. In fact, we are instructed to be as uniform as possible -- asking the same questions (the ones on the sheet) and only asking individual follow-up questions if you open the door for us.

This isn't how we'd like to do it -- but, it is the way it is...

So, the thing is -- how to handle this sort of interview?

What not to do: -- know that I've seen all of these kinds of behaviors...
  • Focus on your research
  • Name-drop about your grad school mentors
  • Waste our time -- this includes asking questions you could answer within a few minutes of snooping on the internet.
  • Talk AT us instead of TO us
  • Condesend to us, 'cuz WE have jobs -- and you don't, so talking down to us is a bad move.
  • Read your teaching demo, or go over time
  • Blab on and on without realizing you have lots of questions to answer...

What to do:

  • Watch your time. It will tell us how you manage your classroom.
  • Give a teaching demo you can finish in 10 minutes.
  • Talk to us like colleagues, but understand that only a couple of us are in your discipline.
  • Come with a couple of good questions, as you should have time to ask them at the end.

Later -- I'll do a post about the interview questions and other ways CCs are different from the schools you've attended.


Daisy said...

I suppose this would be a bad time to leave public school teaching and attempt to enter the community college realm...

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Well, there is no good time to get into college teaching. I think this will probably be as good a time as any to apply for community college jobs.

Depending on where you are, you may end up doing adjunct work in the evenings, but if you are interested -- it doesn't hurt to apply.

Anonymous said...

I think what you described is a pretty accurate picture of the many CC hiring processes I've been processed by over the years.

Probably 2/3 of the schools that have invited me to interview have reimbursed my travel expenses up to a maximum that never equaled the total.

Not all schools present the questions first. However, some that do also like to collect the notes you've made during the 1/2 hour you've had to prepare.

Several schools have asked me to produce a timed writing sample.

I've participated in teacher-student role playing more than once, sometimes with actual students, sometimes with members of the hiring committee.

I've also seen students on hiring committees.

That's to reiterate that it's ALL about the teaching.

On the other side of the table, however, here are some suggestions for the committee/things I've seen that made me not want to take jobs:

We know you're probably limited to a formal process. However, the committee should make some effort to appear human. Offer water or coffee. Absolutely fight HR for your right to ask follow-up questions. Communication, like in teaching, is always a dialogue. The candidate needs to read you in order to talk to you. Moreover, he/she wants to know his/her future colleagues are in fact real, live people.

Especially if you're interviewing out of town candidates, arrange for campus/building tours. Have a student or non-committee faculty member do it. On a related note, out of town candidates also want to know things about the community - as a constituency and as a place to live - that the internet can not tell them.

If your equipment breaks, if your presentation software license expires (yes), etc, do not expect the candidate to fix it unless he/she is interviewing for a tech job. DO NOT subtract the time it takes for the candidate to circumvent your expired software from his presentation time limit.

If you choose a teaching demonstration topic for the candidates, do not choose one that it is not possible to do intelligent justice to in under an hour, for example, "A lecture on the history of linear perspective including a demonstration on the methods of one-point perspective" then ask candidates to address it in ten minutes. In that case especially, if, say, your software expires during that, um, at least pat yourself on the back when you invite the candidate back for a second interview after he totally nails it and fixes your computer at the same time.

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