I finally got an interview! 

I've been an adjunct instructor at a large institution and just got the call today that I've finally been selected to interview for a full-time instructor position. My background is CORPORATE - I have had zero experience with the academic world (except as a student!) before this adjunct position.

  • What should I expect as part of the interview process?
  • What's the best way to prepare? (I've already re-loaded the Interviewing Series on my iPod)
  • Is it OK to try to find out who will be on the search committee and talk with them before my interview?


Thank you SO MUCH for any help!

--- TMLiz (clearly, High I)

Doris_O's picture

 First, congratulations on being selected to interview for the full-time position! 

I've interviewed at a lot of colleges and universities for administrative, not faculty positions. However, I've served on a number of faculty search committees and was an adjunct before I went the academic administration route. The process will vary depending upon the institution. Most require multiple interviews, often with panels of interviewers. Some are conducted as all day marathon events where you will meet with the various constituencies that you will would be working with. At some point you may be asked to give a "talk"; that is a short lecture within your area of expertise to staff, faculty and any students who may want to attend. For the all day events, you may also be interviewed at a breakfast meeting, lunch and/or dinner or even all three. Sometimes this is done all at once, and sometimes there is an initial screening interview with one or more members of the committee in person or by phone. 

If is it a state university, union rules may require that each candidate be asked exactly the same questions of each candidate, with none tailored to your resume or experience. 

I recommend that you, politely, ask the person who contacted you about the interview who you will be interviewing with. Most are happy to share that info, if you are at the interview stage. I recommend you do a little research so you know who they are and what their areas of expertise, current research, papers or books they've written. If the opportunity arises for small talk with a member of the committee during the search process, you want to be perceived as interested in their work (and not creepy stalker adjunct instructor).

As a search committee member I would be uncomfortable if you approached me outside of the official search process. At some schools external contact about the search would make you ineligible to continue interviewing, but every school is different. I've had former colleagues recommend that I apply for a position they were on the search committee for, but once I applied we did not speak until after the position was filled to avoid any conflict of interest/ethical issues. 

Instead I recommend reaching out to your existing network to let them know that you are very interested in the position. For my current position, the Dean contacted my references, but also contacted the people that he knew had worked with me at another College. Fortunately I had a very good reputation and relationship with the folks he spoke with, so they recommended me without hesitation. You may want to reach out to a full time faculty member that you have a good relationship with and is not on the committee, to ask about their experience in the search process and get their advice about how to prepare. Keep in mind that different departments and committees may choose to run their searches in different ways, if they are permitted to do so. 

Otherwise, be sure to be up to date on any current articles or research in your area; read the Chronicle so you know what's going on in education these days. Be prepared to talk about your own work, how what you have done in the corporate world might be applied in the classroom, and your teaching philosophy. Also, be prepared to talk about why you want to be a full time faculty member.


tmliz's picture

Doris - Thank you so much! So much helpful information.

I have a very good friend who is in the same college, but different department. I'll definitely be taking him out for coffee!  

My fear in reaching out to find out who's on the search committee is I don't want to alert any current full-time instructors who might be losing their contract (this is for a 3 year appointment and I'm not positive they've been able to ADD a position - I think it's for someone who's renewal is up). But I don't want to be the person who mentions it!

Again, thanks so much!