Author Topic: Job interview advice  (Read 376 times)

11ducks

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Job interview advice
« on: July 11, 2019, 12:48:40 AM »

I managed to score an interview for an entry level lecturer position in my field (Education). I am delighted, this is my dream job and a stepping stone to a great career (PhD, research). I want this so, so badly. Having said that, I haven't interviewed for a job in over a decade, never in a formal setting like this (there's likely to be a selection panel) and I'm nervous. I want to do as much as possible to prepare myself, reduce my nerves and give myself the best chance of getting the job.  I would love advice from you guys, both general, and specifically on:

-what kinds of q's will they ask?

-how to respond to q's like 'what are your weaknesses'?

-talking yourself up without sounding like you are bragging - I find this really awkward, and am likely to make a stupid joke if I don't prepare myself

- responding to q's around broad selection criteria (eg  qualities that contribute to a positive and productive workplace, being a good teacher) - I'm a nice person and good at my job (teaching for a decade), but what kinds of specific examples should I be giving?

-what to wear? how formal? the uni is fairly casual compared to peer uni's (lecturers don't tend to wear suits). glasses or contacts? suit or dress or jacket/skirt? I'll need to buy something as most of my work clothes are appropriate enough for teaching but not high quality/impressive. I have really long hair that looks messy easily, I'll need to do something there.

-how do I not stuff this up!?!? I believe I would be really good at this job, and I would love the opportunity to do it.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Job interview advice
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2019, 01:41:16 AM »

I managed to score an interview for an entry level lecturer position in my field (Education). I am delighted, this is my dream job and a stepping stone to a great career (PhD, research). I want this so, so badly. Having said that, I haven't interviewed for a job in over a decade, never in a formal setting like this (there's likely to be a selection panel) and I'm nervous. I want to do as much as possible to prepare myself, reduce my nerves and give myself the best chance of getting the job.  I would love advice from you guys, both general, and specifically on:

-what kinds of q's will they ask?

-how to respond to q's like 'what are your weaknesses'?

-talking yourself up without sounding like you are bragging - I find this really awkward, and am likely to make a stupid joke if I don't prepare myself

- responding to q's around broad selection criteria (eg  qualities that contribute to a positive and productive workplace, being a good teacher) - I'm a nice person and good at my job (teaching for a decade), but what kinds of specific examples should I be giving?

-what to wear? how formal? the uni is fairly casual compared to peer uni's (lecturers don't tend to wear suits). glasses or contacts? suit or dress or jacket/skirt? I'll need to buy something as most of my work clothes are appropriate enough for teaching but not high quality/impressive. I have really long hair that looks messy easily, I'll need to do something there.

-how do I not stuff this up!?!? I believe I would be really good at this job, and I would love the opportunity to do it.

Firstly: Convince yourself that you are a good candidate for the job. Then enter the interview with a straight posture and radiate your confidence in being a good candidate. Sit in an attentive posture during the interview and be interested in what they are telling your.

The questions they ask:

Tell us about yourself. Tell your career or education if you are young. And some personal things only if relevant. e.g. I move to this country/city in year x.

Why are you the right person for this job?

Can you work together with other people.

Can you work independently.

Do you get stressed easily?

What are you good qualities? Answer 3. Think of answering that you are a very organised person, or good with people/children/youngsters, whatever relevant. Tell the truth, but choose qualities that can be relevant to the job. Just name the qualities that separate you from the rest, but don't brag for 5 minutes about it. Maybe name the quality and perhaps name a short example.

You say that you are good at your job. Have you gotten good reviews? Do parents mention you to the school board in some positive way? Name that. Or do you manage to change certain kids from be demotivated to doing well at school? Find an example that shows what makes you a good teacher.

What are your bad qualities? Prepare to have to answer 2-3 things. Try to find things that are sort of true and could be seen as a little negative, but nothing that would be a problem for that particular the job. Like: "I am a bit of an introvert". "I am very direct". This is the hardest part, you don't want to lay out all your most negative things. Or something like "I am a bit nervous when flying, but I force myself to do it anyway." Then you show that you don't have a major issue.

Clothing: a little more formal that what you would expect to wear at the job. If they are very informal, just a nice jacket, combined with some decent trousers/skirt might be enough. Don't dress several grades more formal than what they wear, typically just one grade more formal. Nice shoes (polished). Contacts or glasses shouldn't make a difference. Do what makes you feel good and comfortable, as long as you have decent looking glasses. I think there is a saying that women might be taken more seriously when they wear glasses during an interview.

Long messy hair: wear a pony tail or get it cut so it doesn't look messy. You should look neat, but not outside your comfort sone, as that will add to your nervousness. On the other hand, looking good should give you confidence.

Just be confident and prepare all the questions you can think of. Google for possible questions. Take your time when answering them. Also be prepared for them to let you do a test while you are there (personality test, preparing a presentation during your interview, answering questions about the subject matter).
And be prepared that it is not only up to you. Just ensure that you will make a good impression, but in the end it is up to them and they can choose someone else for reasons outside your control. Therefore, also look for other jobs while waiting for the answer.

If you have a relevant question for the job, you could call them about it. That make them remember your name. But don't call them for irrelevant stuff. Also, when it takes time to get an answer, you might call to follow up. In general, if you don't get an answer fast, you are probably not the first choice candidate.

reeshau

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Re: Job interview advice
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2019, 03:07:52 AM »
Is it this school that makes this a dream job, or just the job?  How much research have you done on the organization, both the school and the department?

To me, as an interviewer (corporate IT, not academia, so take with a grain of salt) I want to find people interested in our company's mission and product, not just the function.

If you think it will be a panel interview, can you guess who will be on the panel?  Do some research on the senior people in the department, and their areas of interest or research.  You don't have to make it obvious (...as I have read in your paper, Dr. so-and-so...) but if you want to think of some anecdotes to relate, you could find ones that have relevance to their areas of interest.

Better Change

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Re: Job interview advice
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2019, 05:34:17 AM »
I'll once again recommend Ask a Manager (askamanager.org).  Alison gives out amazing advice about all job-related things, especially interviews and negotiating offers.  US-focused, but nearly all of the advice will apply.

Good luck!

Malkynn

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Re: Job interview advice
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2019, 07:53:14 AM »
I've interviewed A LOT of people, and here's what most people don't understand about interviews: it doesn't really matter what you say.

That might sound nuts, but it's true. My applicants always said the exact same things to a lot of questions, the answers never mattered as they were virtually identical. It always struck me how the exact same words could come off as charming, annoying, arrogant, humble, just depending on the mouth they came from.

You are either qualified for the job and a good fit for the culture or you aren't. If you aren't, then you can't say anything to change that. However if you *are* a good fit, you can definitely psych yourself out and fail to demonstrate that.

So, your job as an interviewee is to be yourself and let them see you.

The biggest thing to manage is your nerves, which can make you unintentionally come off as different than you are. A LOT of people fuck up interviews by being too focused on answering questions the "right way".

I remember back when I was doing insanely stressful interviews for elite doctoral programs at two different schools. In one week I had two interviews with nearly identical questions and I gave nearly identical answers at both. The schools had very different cultures, and I have a STRONG personality.

Well, one interview went spectacularly well, ran 40 minutes long (was only supposed to be 25 minutes long), ended in the main panel member and I showing each other photos of our dogs, and he is now a dear friend of mine.

The other interview ended in me and the main interviewer in a very heated exchange of words, the interview was cut short after I stood up and told him that people like him were what was wrong with our system, and he told me that people like me get other people killed. No joke, that actually happened word for word.

I was a great fit for the culture of one program and a terrible fit for the other. It was remarkably self evident within moments of the onset of the interview. The tone of an interview is set within the first 30 seconds.

It's easy to say "just be yourself" because it's way more complicated than that. No one is good at being themselves in unfamiliar and stressful circumstances. So the key is to figure out what you need to do to prepare in order to be comfortable when the time comes.

Mock interviews, meditation, meds, whatever, everyone is different and everyone has their own ways of handling how to come off as normal when you feel anything but.

It's so much like a first date, it's ridiculous.
Remember, the main thing that interviewers are deciding is if they want to see you again.

Smokystache

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Re: Job interview advice
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2019, 08:21:40 AM »
I was a professor for almost 15 years and so was involved in my own interviews as well as interviewing other candidates for teaching positions at a college (although in the US, not Australia).

This may not transfer to your hemisphere, but here's my random list of advice:

- Have 3 good questions about the position that show you care about how to be the best at the job. NOT questions about salary, vacation, etc. Questions that show you care about the career. Perhaps something like what they view as recent challenges that face lecturers. What distinguishes this institution from similar institution (what do they feel they do well?) - give them an open door to brag about themselves. How do the courses that you will be assigned to teach fit into the larger curriculum? Things like that.

- Always remember that supervisors and hiring committees are always concerned about screening out the high-maintenance people. At the end of the day they want someone who will consistently do their job and not make their job more difficult. The best way to do this is to appear friendly, dedicated, calm, and prepared. They also want someone who will be friendly and easy to be around.

- I agree with the advice to dress above what the daily dress is like, but no tuxedos/formal gowns =).

- Be prepared with several specific teaching examples of how you dealt with situations. When you thought a class/course was on the wrong track how did you turn it around? How do you work with students who are struggling? How is your teaching different from when you started? What are some of your standard practices and why do you do it that way? Quick stories (less than 60 or 90 seconds) are the best way to answer these questions. A simple intro (this was the situation), this is what I did to improve the situation, and this was how it turned out great. 3 parts. It's easy to remember stories about yourself. This also helps with the idea of bragging because you're always starting off with a problem and then just saying what you did. For example, the difference between these answers to "Why do you think you're a good instructor?" You could say something like "I'm well qualified from XXX University, I work hard, and I had good grades" ... but a much stronger answer would be to share one or two brief stories about how you turned around a bad situation. Let me again emphasize that these need to be really brief ... don't drone on. If they are really, really  interested, they can ask follow-up questions and you can give more details.

- As for the weakness question, is it true that you're beginning yoru career and so a reasonable weakness is that you dont' have a lot of experience? If so, go ahead and state it. This isn't new information to them - I assume they've seen your resume/cv. State that you're closer to the beginning of your career and you wish you had a little more experience, but restate the experience you have, brief story about how you're a quick learner and you're willing to make adjustments, and you're done. Don't camp on that question, but have a reasonable answer ready to go.

Best of luck. Try to be as relaxed as possible (I know, I know, easy for me to say), but fake the relaxation if you have to. Best wishes!!



Slow&Steady

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Re: Job interview advice
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2019, 09:13:03 AM »
Not in the education world so maybe not relevant but just finished going through a few interview and I have been in several interviews in the past.  I feel that interviewing for a different positions every once in a while is important.

This last set of interviews that I went through felt like the best interviews I have ever been involved in. Why?  Because I knew that I could do the job or learn what I needed to know.  I took the stance similar to Malkynn that the main thing that we were doing during the interview process was determining if personalities were compatible.  I did only minimal research before I went in for the interview and focused on, what do I want/need to be able to enjoy my job.  I probably asked as many questions as they did and I believe that is why it was so successful.  They knew I was confident about the work and were able to gauge my personality based on the questions I asked (information that is important to me for making a decision). I was able to gauge their personalities based on their responses, interviewers are not all that used to being asked a bunch of questions and it throws things into a different type of interaction where everyone can go off script. 

Walk in, knowing you can do the actual job and try to direct the majority of the interview learning their personality (yours will naturally show based on the questions that you ask). Come up with a list of questions that are important to you, think of the things that you didn't like at previous jobs and ask about those things. 

What is the average class load? How much research will you be allowed to participate in your 1st year?  When will that typically be able to increase? Student/teacher ratio (not the published one but the one that the people interviewing you have actually experienced for the specific subject that you are interviewing for)?  What are the opportunities to move into a research role in the future?  Do they have a mentor program?  How many mentors participate in the program? What is management style like for whoever you would report to? They want to know how you generally communicate, but you need to know how they generally communicate also.  Is this an everything in-writing type of environment or a we prefer face to face communication environment?  When they ask how you handle conflict, answer them but return the question.  What has the school done in the past in the exact same situation (whatever one they give you)?  They want to know your weaknesses but don't you also want to know what some of your co-worker's weaknesses and strengths are? Word these kind of questions as: What things could you share with me as examples of things that I could do or that past co-workers have done to make this a successful team or things that have caused issues within the team in the past?

A dream job really sucks if the people are not a good fit. Remember the saying that people leave jobs because of a manager/co-worker, rarely because of the work (read the Epic FU thread if you need a reminder of this).  If they refuse to go "off-script" that should tell you something to, maybe that is a good thing for your personality, maybe it is not but it does tell you something.


MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Job interview advice
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2019, 10:30:28 AM »
I interview lots of people and coach people on careers, hereís my advice, take with a grain of salt:

óyour number one mission is to try and convince any employer that you will bring value to them. So you have to understand their mission, priorities, focus and strategic direction, then demonstrate how you will support, enhance and grow what they want

ónever talk about how any job will benefit you. Thatís incidental and companies donít care about how a job benefits you. Always make this about them.

ódo your research. Study the website, know the campus, know the department, talk to students, other people who work there. Invest yourself in having a true understanding of the business from a variety of angles. This allows you to be specific on whatís motivating you to chose this place, why it stands out and how it aligns with your skill set and is exactly the place you know you can make an immediate contribution. Find something you love about the organization and showcase that as what attracts you and what would drive you to do your best work

ómy personal secret weapon for interviews, and this doesnít work for everyone, is to come in with a vision or plan aligned with the organization Iím applying for. If I was applying to teach, I would walk them through how I would teach the program, engage students and how my research projects would play in with teaching and the research expectations. I always have a plan.

ónever ever bad mouth any past job or person you worked with

óI like asking people to walk me though successes theyíve had in the past and how they contributed to that success. Itís good to see concrete examples. Have a couple stories to tell. Stories have a structure. There was a challenge, I addressed it like this, it didnít go smooth, so I reflected, collaborated with others, then tried something different and boom success.

óbe confident in your abilities, but humble in your personality. Be passionate about students, the teaching environment and how you donít mid the drudgery of marking. Be knowledgeable about good practice teaching techniques.

óif you get asked about your flaws, talk about something that happened 5 years ago, when you overestimated your abilities, or under prepared. Then talk about how you reflected, put effort into your growth and have since developed new ways so you donít repeat those mistakes.

óas for dress and such, personally, I want everyone to look professional, even if the work environment is casual. I know anyone can dress down. If you need to be at an event where you need to look professional can you? So, clean and trim your nails, get a haircut, wear a suit and donít let anything about your appearance be a distraction. Always be polite, courteous, well-mannered and even toned. Be thoughtful and focused and engaged.

óanother secret, match your body position to whoever is interviewing you, it builds rapport

ófinally, always have questions to ask, but never about salary or vacation days. Ask questions that give you clarity on where the organization is going, what are their plans for growth and engagement? Where does the organization see itself in 5 years? Whatís the biggest challenge facing the lecturers or the school? Show them your business focused and strategic in your thinking, not just academic.

Best of luck!