Adjunctified–Game Planning the High Education Interview Game

interviewAdjunctified–Game Planning the High Education Interview Game

by Brian Harrell, University of Akron

I love to interview–to be placed on the hot seat, actively engaging in a battle between unseen opponents, not knowing the rules or how to score knowing from interview reflection papers, but hoping my audience awareness and ability to rhetorically analyze a committee will provide me with just enough to be leading when the clock hits 0:00, and I no longer need to search the online job postings within 60 miles of my home. Don’t get me wrong; I am not a serial job hopper, never satisfied with what I have, always thinking the next job is better than my current position. I am a temporary college employee, with a nine-month, possible renewable contract, but will not know until a few weeks before the next semester begins. I, like most part-time instructors and other temporary lecturers, would love to be hired into a semi-permanent position, where we do not have to worry about whether or not we will be employed next semester or next fall. But, until I win the job lottery, I am going to play the interview game.

As with any championship team, being good at the academic interview takes practice and experience. Many times, even though I know the job would not be a good fit or that I have no chance of being offered the position, I still go to the interview, hoping to practice the skills I have worked hard to hone. Just like anything, the more interviews you have, the better you get.

There are five tips I have learned over the years of interviewing and will give to anyone wanting to be a successful interviewee in the composition setting. They are:

  1. Always be up to date on the current composition theory and be ready to discuss this theory in the interview. When asked about your pedagogy try to frame the answer with a couple of major names in the field. “I have formed my pedagogy from reading Lisa Delpit and her ideas surrounding the power exchange in the classroom.” Or “As Victor Vitanza argues that the intention of writing should be to provide the reader with new ideas that contradict the rational world. Because of this, I bring social justice issues into my classroom along with open minds.” By name dropping, the interviewer will know you are well-read in the field and care about composition.
  2. Write-Write-Write. When applying for a job teaching writing, you should be able to communicate with the interviewer that you too are a writer. Have a blog or website you can direct the committee to which illustrates your writing abilities. Submit writing to journals and other publications. Even if publications have not published your work, yet, you can still discuss your writing and submissions in the interview.
  3. Be familiar with the school, the hiring committee, and the English department. Even a cursory Google search can reveal many key items about the school. Find the current course catalog and see what classes are currently being offered by the department. How many Composition sections are offered each semester? What is the name of the President of the School? The Dean of the College? The chair of the department? Then, during the interview, begin to show the committee that you are familiar with the school, and are ready to integrate into the current structure.
  4. Have sample artifacts of your teaching: past syllabi, teaching plans, specific lessons, text books you have used, images of online courses you have created, and links to any web based artifacts. You can do this in paper copies or a flash drive you will provide for the committee. Always offer the artifacts to the committee, being prepared to be refused.
  5. It is your job to sell yourself to the committee. Be 20 minutes early, dress professionally, bring a briefcase or other academic bag, and have your current CV and Teaching Philosophy available even if they already have a copy.

Participating in the job search process is stressful. The interview should not be. Enjoy the process. Think of it as an opportunity to talk about your teaching with a new audience.

Finally, remember to smile.

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