Applicants for faculty jobs need to take the advice they’ll be giving their students: do your homework before the test. The interview is the applicant’s test!

Doing your homework before the interview means not only being able to speak to all parts of the faculty job description for which you are applying, but also demonstrating you know about the university or college, the department you would be part of, including your potential colleagues. Acquire this knowledge by going to the school’s website for general facts, and then to the department’s website—be sure to click on the “faculty” tab. If the faculty members have personal sites linked to the department page, go there. Even if they don't, conduct a web search for them also—just as you’d do for any potential colleagues who don’t have a link on department’s page. This colleague research is especially important for those who are on the hiring committee—which you can often get by phoning the department.

For university jobs, it’s critical to know about potential colleagues’ research—which should be in your internet search. For community college jobs, research is markedly less relevant, although if potential colleagues there have done that, it’s important to acknowledge it. Four year colleges and universities are somewhere in between those extremes in both the importance of research, and the likelihood of potential colleagues having done it.

The information acquired by doing your homework should be used in your answers to interview questions—or your questions at the end of your interview. The more you can demonstrate you’ve done your homework for the hiring interview, the more likely you’ll get an offer that ultimately enables you to help those colleagues conduct future hires.

Scott Magnuson-Martinson, PhD. is a community college faculty member—he’s taught at several colleges and universities—and sat on various faculty hires as a Sociology department chair.

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