How to Show that You Are the Ideal Candidate

You are facing the search committee, trying to convince a panel that you are the best fit for one of their academic jobs. Your heart sinks when you realize you are the fifth of five candidates being interviewed.

You cannot get hung up on your position in the interview process. Presumably everyone who is interviewed meets the specifications regarding experience and education. You have to show the panel that you are the best fit for the job,
and to do this, you must do your homework about yourself as well as about the employer.

Before you interview, make a list of the advertised qualities of the ideal candidate, and identify things you’ve done in the past that demonstrate how you meet those. If the ad specifies someone with knowledge of current theory,
methodology and practices, show that you have kept up with the most current info in your field via conferences, training and additional research. If the ad mentions that the candidate should have an ability to use tact, sensitivity and discretion, work a scenario of sometime in the past when you’ve handled a difficult situation with tact into your interview responses.

If you’ve done your research on the organization, you should have a feel for the issues which it is facing and its recent successes. Match these issues and successes with items in your background, and show how your experience can help the organization to meet its current challenges or build upon its successes. 

If you can show your interviewers how your background has prepared you to meet the exact qualifications they need for their faculty positions, it won’t matter if you are the first, third, or tenth candidate interviewed. You will be the one who stands out in their minds as being the best one for the job.

Dindy Robinson is Director of Compensation at Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas.

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