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The Placement Exchange Blog - Part Two

by Lisa Jordan, HigherEdJobs

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The Placement Exchange 2011, a job placement event for student affairs professionals, took place March 9 - 13 in Philadelphia. HigherEdJobs is pleased to bring you recaps of the educational sessions at The Placement Exchange. Although some information is specific about the conference, knowledge from these sessions can also be applied to other areas of your job search. So whether you were able to attend the conference or not, we hope you find the following information helpful.

Want to know what are the right questions to ask during an interview?
Asking the Right Questions - Dan Stypa from the University of South Florida
By Natasha Hopkins

Although interviewers are asking you tons of questions, the questions you ask tell a lot about you as well. When it comes down to it, interviewers want to know if the candidates will be an ideal fit for their institution and candidates want to know if they will fit at the institutions. This is a mutually beneficial process for everyone involved. TPE is a very busy and time consuming experience. Don't just interview for practice, that's what mock interviews with your supervisors, other professionals, the career center, and the coaching staff at TPE are for. Only accept interviews from an institution if you can see yourself at that institution. Don't waste your time or the employer's time. And in the spirit of giving, be mindful that you could be taking away from a candidate who is really interested in the position.

When asking questions after your interview, there are several types of questions to consider. Ask:
  1. Meaningful questions. Meaningful questions will help the employers get to know you and your interest. Don't ask questions that are included in material they provide or on their website. Put in a little effort and do your research. If you still have questions, reference the materials you've explored and ask them for clarification.
  2. About the Institution. What do you want to know that you can't find by committing a little time browsing the institution's website? Traditions, campus climate, student dynamics, etc.
  3. Work/Life Balance. What do other professionals do when they are not at work? This is your opportunity to learn about finding a balance in your work/personal life.
  4. Future Oriented. Future oriented questions help the employer gain a perspective on your goals. Are you committed to the profession? Do you plan to get involved in developing programs/initiatives, conferences, pursuing a PhD, etc?
  5. Collaboration & Engagement. This is your opportunity to learn about the spirit of collaboration at the institution. Is the department "feared, revered, or respected?" How integrated is the department in the campus community as a whole? Collaboration & engagement questions also reveal the type of relationships the department has with other offices on campus and determine opportunities that may be available to get involved in campus-wide projects (i.e., university committees, teaching, involvement not in your functional area).
  6. Supervision. Supervisory questions will paint a picture regarding the relationships you will have with students you advise/mentor. This is an opportunity to determine if the interactions with the students reflect your best fit. Are the students in need of a micro-manager? Are they entrepreneurial? Or are they completely free spirits, with no regard for authority? Supervisory question also help you understand some characteristics shared by those who have been most successful in this position. What has your predecessor done? What types of shoes are you expected to fill (and supersede)?
  7. Personal Insights. Finally, personal insights humanize the institutions and the positions you are applying for. Why do the people interviewing you stay? What has kept them at the institution? What is the greatest strength of the department? What piece of advice do they have for a new professional starting here?
Although there are tons of great questions to ask, there are just as many questions that you should NOT ask at a TPE-type interview. Do NOT ask questions regarding:
  1. Salary. This is the preliminary stage of the search, if it is not listed, consider calling the institution's HR department. Do your research, you should know or at least be aware of the salary range for your potential position.
  2. Vacation Time. Try getting the job before you start booking your flight to Acapulco. This would be covered during your on-campus interview.
  3. Benefits. Do your research. A detailed explanation of benefits will be explained in a meeting with the HR team.
  4. The Same Topic. Have a list of 3-5 different questions. You don't want to be perceived as having a narrow-minded focus. It's great if you are interested in supervision, but don't make all of your questions about it. There's more to the job than supervising and being supervised.
  5. Long and Complex Questions. As an interviewee, you don't like long questions. Neither do employers. Be intentional and specific about the questions you ask.
Finally, be yourself during your interview. Interviewers will be able to see through an over-rehearsed interviewee. Everyone will get a job at some point. It's all about "fit."

Have fun, relax, and take a deep breath... and another... and one more for good measure.


New Professionals Reading List
Suggested New Professionals Reading List - Justin Lukaswicz - UNC Chapel Hill
By Natasha Hopkins

When reading for professional development, consider looking outside of student affairs to identify relevant best practices in other industries. There are many relevant resources available that are great to consider.

Professional Books
First Break All the Rules, Buckingham, M. and Coffman, C. (1999)
This book is about supervision.

The Speed of Trust, Covey, S.M.R, Covey, S.R., & Merrill, R. (2008)
How to build and gain trust and how to build community within small groups.

First 90 Days, Watkins, M. (2003)
From a business industry standpoint, in the first 90 days at a new job you have to learn about the new institution. This book discusses how to minimize the gap in your "first 90 days."

Linchpin, Are You Indispensable? Goodin, S. (2010)
How to make yourself so indispensable that a organization will bend over backwards to keep you.

Other Books to Read
How Full is Your Bucket, Clifton, D.O. and Rath, T. (2004)
Focuses on the positive exchanges amongst each other. How to interject positive relations into the lives of others. For each negative experience, do five positive things for others.

The 8th Habit, Covey, S.R. (2006)
Continuation of The 7th Habit, focuses on finding your passion and delving into it.

Now, Discover Your Strength, Clifton, D.O. and Buckingham, M. (2001)

Go, Put Your Strengths to Work, Buckingham, M. (2007)

Vital Friends, Clifton, D.O. and Rath, T. (2004)

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey, S.R. (2004)

Fable Books
The Hamster Revolution, Halsey, V. and Song, M. (2008)

Who Moved My Cheese, Blanchard, K. (1998)

Our Iceberg is Melting, Kotter, J. et al (2006)

Money Management
The Money Book for the Young, Broke, & Fabulous, Suze Orman (2007)

Audience Suggestions
Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney, Lee Cockerell

Guyland, Michael Kimmel

Beginning Your Journey, NASPA

35 Dumb Things Well Intended People Say, Cullen, M. (2008)

Multicultural Competencies in Student Affairs, Pope, P., Reynolds, A., & Mueller, J.( 2004)


See Part One for:
Guide to the Interview Table - Julie McMahon, Arkansas State University Jonesboro
Networking at NASPA - Dave Vale, California Polytechnic State University
Placement Interview Tips for Candidates - Paul Lynch of Marymount University

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Reply Karen said...
Thank you for this post! I have an interview this afternoon, and your post has really helped me gain focus on how to prepare!

04/14/2011 07:11 AM

Reply Virginia said...
THIS INFORMATION IS EXTREMELY HELPFUL SO I THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SHARE IT. I HAVE A DOCTORATE IN CLINICAL PSYCH AND MY DISSERTATION INVOLVED THE SURVEY OF 290 POSTSECONDARY SCHOOLS TO DETERMINE WHAT SERVICES ARE AVAILAILABLE TO STUDENTS WITH DISABIITIES. dOES ANYONE KNOW HOW SOMEONE LIKE ME WITH NO ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT BACKGROUND CAN BREAK INTO THIS FIELD HELPING STUDENTS IN STUDENT SERVICES OR DISABILITY SERVICES

04/21/2011 02:54 PM

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