Applications and Interviews

I’ve had the “honor” to serve on two different search committees this summer, one as the chair of the committee, one as a member. Let me tell you I’ve learned more in the past two months of reviewing applications and CVs and resumes to feel like I am an expert at this. Okay, maybe not an expert, but let me tell you some things that I’ve learned so far in the process:

1. Check you spelling and grammar. Then double check it.

Nothing says to me “this person has no attention to detail” like the misuse of the English language. Especially on such an important document as your resume.

2. Make your application material specific to the position you’re applying.

I received one cover letter where the individual had forgotten to replace [Name of University Here] with the name of our University. Even though he had some good qualifications it was hard to take his application seriously after that. Follow that up with his errors in spelling and grammar and he got moved to the bottom of the list.

3. Make sure you show you understand the position.

It was very obvious when reading cover letters and application material who had taken the time to learn something about our institution and the position. I got applications listing graduate level classes the individual would like to teach (we don’t have a grad program), I got applications from people who didn’t have ANY of the required degrees, I got applications from people in completely different fields, I got applications from individuals who obviously hadn’t even taken the time to look at the website and see what our school and department is like. Those who had were obvious and stood out from the pack.

4. Send in ALL the requested materials.

The number one weeding factor we used when narrowing our list of candidates was whether they sent in all of the requested applications material. If an applicant didn’t send all the information they didn’t make the short list. Simple as that. It was taken as a sign of either forgetfulness or that the applicant was hiding information, both things not something we would want in a colleague.

5. Be friendly, upbeat, and earnest.

Between two equal candidates on phone interviews the person with obvious enthusiasm for the position and interest in the school got the leg-up. We could see them as potential friends and easy to work with, two things of great value in a potential colleague.

6. Have good questions to ask.

One thing I have come, already, to respect on interviews are individuals with thoughtful questions. I know that it is difficult to sometimes know the right questions to ask a search committee, but those individuals who have enough experience or have paid close enough attention in their previous positions or have done enough research on the position to ask thought provoking questions of the search committee are definitely given a high degree of preference to candidates who simply ask about the next stage of the process or generic questions that show know depth of knowledge of the position or the institution.

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2 Responses to Applications and Interviews

  1. Katie says:

    You may want to fix the type-o in #1. Unless it was intentional… Just saying. Sorry!

  2. Funny you should mention this… I was reading some cover letters & resumes for co-op students. The first one said, “attention to detail” but the letter wrote the wrong name (my name at the top but the salutation was someone else).

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