Application Tips For College Instructors

Applicants for full time teaching positions at Community Colleges or Junior Colleges must set themselves apart while preparing for a successful interview process.

Although many colleges and universities are eliminating positions, some institutions are hiring, choosing to fill vacant full time slots with adjuncts that cost less. The competition for these positions, however, is fierce. Even more competitive are full time vacancies at community colleges or junior colleges that are almost always filled by adjunct instructors.

In many cases, these colleges advertise full time vacancies because they are mandated to do so, but have the intention of filling the position with an adjunct that may be well know in the department and has demonstrated a high level of competency. There are, however, many ways to prepare for the interview in order to make the strongest possible impression.

Completing the Application and Related Materials

The application should be completely filled out and signed in all appropriate areas. Include a well written cover letter summarizing interest in the position, relevant background, and demonstrated passion in the subject area. The packet should include:

  • Current Curriculum Vitae
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts of academic credentials
  • Past evaluations of classroom teaching
  • Samples of published works

In short, the application packet should include enough information to give a search committee a good picture of the applicant as well as setting the applicant apart from others applying for the position.

Preparing For Possible Interview Questions

Although interview questions can cover many areas, typical questions include the following:

  1. How do you deal with students that wish to drop the class?
  2. What is your view of college culture?
  3. Give an example of a successful teaching moment.
  4. To what extent is student writing important? (Research papers, etc.)
  5. How do you incorporate public speaking in class?
  6. What is your greatest strength/weakness?
  7. How have you adapted to changes in the educational system?
  8. Do you prefer internet classes or face-to-face classes?
  9. What experiences can you bring to this learning community?
  10. Why should this committee recommend hiring you?

There may also be questions about the institution and community. Why do you want to work at this college? What appeals to you about our particular community? The applicant would be well served researching not only the institution but the community it serves. Glib answers such as, “I like the mountains” or “working in a big city has many opportunities” may be the death knell of the interview process.

Applicants that are just looking for a teaching job are easily spotted. Colleges want instructors that seek to immerse themselves into the community, participate in volunteer projects, and genuinely like the environment. Thriving in the classroom is linked to thriving in the community, and members of the search committee are generally proud of their community at-large.

The Mock Interview Mini-Lecture

Some colleges require that the applicant “teach” a mock class. If the subject of the lecture is open, the applicant should select a topic that is most familiar. Too many visual aids may be distracting while too few may signal unfamiliarity with technological support.

The applicant with passion for the discipline will break any barriers of doubt whether using a power point or an LCD projector. It is precisely the level of passion and content knowledge that most committee members are anxious to observe. Always ask for questions, and be prepared to answer them fully.

The Interview Follow-up

Once the interview is concluded, applicants should thank the members of the committee. It is also highly recommended – and appropriate, to send a follow-up letter of thanks. If, during the interview, questions related to an area not addressed by materials already sent were raised, include such documentation in the follow-up letter.