It’s that time of year again. Employers scrolling through resumes, candidates polishing shoes and searching for the perfect suit because it’s job search season in the world of higher education. With The Job Placement Exchange (TPE) rapidly approaching (March 18-22nd), employers will soon be traveling to New Orleans in search of the perfect individuals for their institution. Candidates will be arriving in hopes of landing an interview which will lead them to the perfect job.
As a candidate, there’s probably some thoughts on what you can do to make yourself the best possible candidate for the positions in which you hold an interest. Here’s some tips to make the most of you (and your potential employers time) at TPE.
1). Prior to the conference, do your research. Look through job postings, read school mission statements, list out what you want to accomplish with this position. Find your ideal description (even if it’s out of your reach) and use that description as a checklist for experiences other positions will give you to get that point. Have your questions lined up and know what you need to do to setup an interview or apply for a position.
2). Once at the conference, attend the candidate orientation. This will help you to understand where you should be prior to your interviews, show you where candidate mailboxes are located, discuss the communication process with employers and cover a variety of other helpful topics.
3). If you’re nervous about interviewing, look to see if mock interviews are available. These are hosted by individuals who often conduct interviews. At the very least, mock interviews will help you to get used to answer questions and provide some feedback on how to better conduct yourself during an interview.
4). Acknowledge that as a candidate, you might be interviewing at one table in the morning and the table right next to it in the afternoon. It’s a job search conference, so schools will understand that you are interviewing with other institutions.
5). Be honest with employers. If you have an interview at 4:00 and another wants to schedule at 4:30, it’s okay to tell the later institution that you might be a few minutes late because of a prior to interview. Employers will understand that you’re trying to fit in as many interviews as possible and would rather know that you might be a little late than not showing up at all. Also, be honest in how you answer questions. Conversations can be overheard, so be sure to keep your responses consistent and honest.
6). Prepare to have tunnel vision. You’ll be interviewing at one table and another interview will be occurring at the tables to your right and left. Be focused on the person in front of you. Ignore everything else that’s going on around you.
7). Understand that during TPE, the interviews never truly end. Employers will be on the plane ride down, sharing the room next to you, at the restaurants in which you choose to eat, etc. Be aware of how you conduct yourself in all of these settings. Jokes that might be understood between friends might be misconstrued by people who don’t know you. The same goes with employers. You might see people with whom you just interviewed, so employers know their behavior is being watched by candidates as well. This is a time to observe the social interactions of a school and see if that’s the right environment for you.
8). Constantly check your box for communication. Employers might try to schedule a last minute interview, so you want to try to respond as soon as possible.
9). Rejection is okay. If an employer offers an interview for position you’re not interested in, it’s alright to turn them down. Just be professional in your response. It’s better to turn them down than to waste their time for that interview slot. It can also rob another candidate of an opportunity to interview for that position. If an employer sends you the “Thanks, but no thanks”, don’t let it get you down. Schedule another interview and move on through the process.
10). Don’t forget the “thank-you’s”. You’re going to need to take A LOT of thank you cards with you to the conference. As soon as an interview ends, wright out your thank-you card and have it placed in the employer’s box.
After the conference, it’s not time to sit back and relax just yet. Many employers might still want to do a phone interview. Some might use TPE as their initial interview and lead straight into on-campus interviews. Most important, don’t get too stressed out about the job search process. The perfect job is there, sometimes it just takes a little longer than expected. You won’t be unemployed for forever if you keep on trying.