While applying and interviewing for full-time English professor positions, remember one simple thing: hiring committees want to hire you; they want you to walk into the room and blow them away with your personality, eloquence, and teaching demonstration. Plus, they also know that interviewing is scary and pressure packed–they have all been on the interviewee more times than they’d likely want to remember.
First we’ll talk about what you can expect from a full-time English faculty hiring process, including things you can do help you get the job, and then, we’ll mention some things to avoid doing (at all costs when possible) to help you get the job. And don’t forget we have an article about What to Expect from the Full-Time English Interview Process.
But all said, always keep in mind that you want to “work with the hiring committee” by making it obvious that you’re the right person for the job, whether you were the favorite going in or not. I’ve seen my fair share of “hiring upsets” when an external candidate was hired because the internal favorite didn’t give the committee was what needed to justify selection over other qualified candidates. Use these 6 tips to help you land the full-time job you’ve been working toward.
What To-Do to Land a Full-Time Position
- Be ready to discuss institutional and classroom assessment. Look up the institution’s assessment techniques their general education goals, and try to find access to a master course outline (or syllabus). Have stories about things you’ve changed in your classroom based on CATS (classroom assessments) and, if possible, institutional/departemental assessments.
- Choose a small teaching demonstration. Don’t try to teach an entire semester in 20-45 minutes. Pick a manageable lesson and provide a quick note before you begin about when/where in the semester the lesson would take place and what it leads up to; better yet, provide a sample weekly calendar and note where on the calendar this lesson would take place. DO NOT try to fit in more than you would if it were a real class. Examples that have worked for me or colleagues:
- introduce in-text citation.
- introduce paraphrase/citation.
- lead a literature discussion w/ prepared discussion questions and a connected assignment.
- Bring example assignments and materials. Provide the committee with a portfolio with samples documents or link them to samples via your resume to a wordpresss/website that contains examples (but nothing complex like a google doc that needs permissions to be viewed). You could also provide an example essay or writing assignment related to your teaching demonstration and/or a portfolio of materials.
- Choose your outfit wisely. Dress more professionally than you would when teaching, but choose something that you won’t fiddle with and won’t show sweat. Adjusting your shirt a million times is distracting and you don’t want your selection committee members to mentally check out and start thinking about how you should have chosen a larger shirt. And sweat can send the message that you’re hiding something or underprepared.
- Show moldability. No one wants to hire someone so rigid in his or her teaching that he or she won’t fit in with department decisions, guideline, or personalities. Be sure to mention that you’re aware that you’re still learning as an instructor and are seeking professional growth/mentorship. You want to project confidence and competence without coming off as a know-it-all whose current status as an adjunct is an injustice and beneath you. We’ve all been there. We’ve all toiled.
- Be able to recall your teaching philosophy and/or the major accomplishments you listed on your resume. They will likely ask you for specifics about some and you don’t want to be the only one in the room unfamiliar with your resume.
So, those are things you can do to properly prepare yourself for the face-to-face interview. But here are the things you want to avoid doing:
What Not-To-Do When Applying and Interviewing
- Don’t contact HR until you hear back about your application. Each time you call HR, your call and the reason for your call is documented. You don’t want to send the message that you’re a pest, super desperate for employment, or too needy. Here’s are related What to Expect from the Full-Time English Interview Process that discusses what to do an say to an HR rep. Each time you contact HR makes the hiring committee worry about different, unappealing things:
- If the hiring committee considers you a pest when applying, they might assume: you’ll be a pest if hired; you’ll overset your employment rank; you’ll pester rather than support students; you’ll misrepresent the institution.
- If the committee thinks you’re super desperate for employment, they may wonder: what makes you so special, everyone in the applicant pool needs a job; if you’re desperate because you keep applying without getting the job, a red flag; did you unexpectedly lose employment, are you going to settle for this job and turn around and apply elsewhere too soon?
- The committee considers you too needy: peers in the English department may want to avoid a needy colleague (we’re all overworked anyway); how are you competent to teach and use multimedia software if you can’t figure out how the HR website/uploads work.
- Don’t leave a bunch of stuff blank on the electronic application. Unfortunately, a lot of it will be a repeat of what’s on your resume/CV but committees get a few things from you and leaving a portion of those few documents way unfinished will make it appear that you were being lazy, don’t care much about the position, or consider yourself above the process–all things that don’t reflect well on your interpersonal capacity.
- Don’t send unofficial transcripts when the posting asks for official transcripts. Most of the time official transcripts are “officially” sent after you’re offered the position based on you providing a readable scan of official transcripts. Assuming you were being truthful about your credentials, everyone’s happy. But committees aren’t going to take the risk or spend the time to contact you about a transcript that is unreadable (due to a poor scan), printed from a registration site that shows no proof of it coming from the institution you claim its from, smart phone pictures that cut off important institutional or course information.
- Don’t ask a question that is related to pay or your title/rank. Instead prepare a question about professional development opportunities, clarification about the institutional mission, or ask for critical feedback from the committee (especially if you’re a newbie and you really do want to know how you stack up).
- You can negotiate pay when the position is offered to you; it will based on a publically available salary schedule listed in the faculty union’s contract: more about that here.
All in all, if you’re like I was before I landed a full-time English faculty position, I wanted/needed a position now (both financially and emotionally). I wasn’t prepared to move from my family and alma-mater, but I did and it was the difference I needed to find the job I needed. I’ve since served on 3-4 hiring committees, observing the conversation and expectation to see what it was that I did right to get my job, which is now something I hope helps a number of part-timers out there find the position they need/want/dream about.
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