Getting an Offer

It has been a couple of weeks since your on-campus interview, and at any moment you are hoping to receive that phone call offering you the position. If it has been longer than the original timeline discussed during your on-campus interview, do not hesitate to call or email your contact on the hiring committee. You can share your increasing enthusiasm for the position, and ask for an update with their hiring process. This is especially important if you have multiple institutions that you may be hearing from.

With time and patience, the call that you have been waiting for happens! Often times during this phone call the employer will go over the salary, start and move in dates, and discuss where the process goes from this point forward. This is your opportunity to ask any questions you have about the position, and ensure that you completely understand the benefits and salary being offered. If you have not already had a discussion of your preferences and needs with regards to the salary, ask if the salary and/or benefits are negotiable. With the tightening of budgets, do not be surprised if they are not. After you have asked your questions, it is appropriate to ask for time to consider the offer. Ask the employer to give you a timeline as to when they will need to know whether you will be taking the position or not.

If the offer you received is not your top choice, it is in your best interest to contact the top institution(s). Let the contact know that you have another offer, and ask for an update as to where you are in their process. You can also give the institution your timeline for accepting or declining the offer, and share your preference for this position. This should hopefully motivate the committee to make a decision with regards to your candidacy. You will then be able to make a more informed decision

Once you decide to accept a position, be sure to ask what the next step will be. You will want an official offer letter, and often a contract is signed. Depending on the position and institution, you may be asked to give information for a background check. Be sure to ask who your contact will be until your arrival so that you may ask any questions that come up. Finally, celebrate all of your accomplishments! Congratulations on your new position!

Enjoy Your New Job!

Congratulations on your new position! Although this job search process can be lengthy and stressful, with a little patience we can all find our fit in student affairs. Enjoy learning new skills, and gaining new experiences in this next step in your career. Consider starting a blog of your own to document the valuable lessons you are learning along the way, and share them with other student affairs professionals. Thank you for taking the time to read the little tidbits I have learned along the way during my job search process. Best wishes and good luck!

Amy Moreno-Kieffer
Student Affairs Job Hunting Blog


May 25, 2010 at 12:23 am Leave a comment

Writing Thank-You Notes

The last impression that you will leave after your on-campus interview comes in the form of a thank you note. After an interview you may write as many as 20 thank-you’s, but it is very important to show your gratitude for the opportunity and the time each individual has taken to be a part of your on-campus interview. Here are some words of advice with regards to writing your thank you notes.

  • Be sure to write them in a timely manner. Ideally it would be beneficial to have them in the mail no later than one week after your interview. Often the process moves quickly after the on-campus interviews, and you want to make sure to leave that lasting impression prior to any decision-making.
  • Write a note to everyone you meet with individually. Even those that join you for dinner or guide you from one interview to another. Everyone is a potential colleague, and you want to show everyone your enthusiasm and appreciation.
  • Consider putting all of the thank-you notes in a larger envelope and mailing them together. This will allow you to save on postage, and ensure they all arrive at the same time. The staff mailboxes may be in the same location, so it wouldn’t take too much time to distribute the notes.
  • Share your enthusiasm and what you appreciated from each individual. Perhaps they shared a philosophy you really appreciated, or explained the culture of the campus very thoroughly. Let them know how they connected with you and why it was so meaningful.
  • Be aware that thank you’s via email may be a good option. As institutions strive to promote sustainability, consider saving the paper and sending your thank you notes via email. You will be demonstrating your commitment, as well as demonstrating that you value sustainability.

Amy Moreno-Kieffer
Student Affairs Job Hunting Blog

May 2, 2010 at 12:23 am 2 comments

Ideas to Keep in Mind During Your On-Campus Interview

I have been told on numerous occasions that the interview begins as soon as you are picked up from the airport or when you meet the first person from the institution you are interviewing with. As I have mentioned before:

  • It is in your best interest to be yourself.
  • Recognize that you are being evaluated almost immediately.
  • Stay positive with your conversational topics.
  • Continue to show your enthusiasm for the institution.
  • Perhaps you can ask yourself how you would like to be remembered from your on-campus interview.

During various meals, ensure that you are thinking about your eating etiquette. Do not talk with your mouth full, take small bites, and keep your elbows off the table are just a few examples. It is not uncommon that you will be interviewed over a meal by a direct supervisor, Director of the program, or students. You do not want your eating behavior to distract those that you are sharing a meal with. This is a great time to get to know their career paths and interests, as this will be more of a conversation rather than a formal interview.

I cannot stress enough the importance of having a few questions for each of your interviews throughout the day. Having questions demonstrates that you have spent some time researching the institution and department, as well as have a real interest in working at the institution. You will more than likely have a portfolio with you, so be sure to write down your questions prior to the on-campus interview. Once it is your cue to ask your questions, you can take notes directly on the sheet of paper with your questions. Helpful items to take note of are the peoples’ names that are interviewing you, and indicate which person is responding to your question. This information will be helpful when you write your thank you’s and want to bring in a personal aspect of a comment or interest they discussed during the interview.

Take each break that is offered to you. Even if you do not need to use the restroom, take a few moments to step away. You can refocus and re-energize in these short moments. Check to see that you do not need to adjust your collar, tie, or suit. Ensure you have nothing in your teeth, and have a breath mint. Knowing how you are presenting yourself will help you to feel more confident and comfortable as you continue with your interviews.

Finally, enjoy yourself! The interviews can be intense, but take the time to envision yourself being at this institution. What do you like about the environment and your potential future colleagues. This is really a time to get to know a new place and culture. Are there any red flags for your? As you go throughout the day start asking yourself if this is a place you think would be a good fit for you, your values, and lifestyle. Ask yourself overall, “how did this experience make me feel?”

Amy Moreno-Kieffer
Student Affairs Job Hunting Blog

April 11, 2010 at 12:23 am 1 comment

Preparing For An On-Campus Interview

Now that you have made all of the necessary arrangements for your on-campus interview, it is time to prep. Keep in mind that each institution has their own way of conducting on-campus interviews, so preparation for each will be important. Here are some of the steps I am taking to prepare:

  • Review your itinerary multiple times and in detail. You may have names and positions of those that you are interviewing with. Determine which area of the department or campus each person or group of people belong, and tailor your institutional website search to those areas. Look at the mission, values, and programs of each area.
  • Look at the institution’s Mission, Values, and Vision and determine how they fit with your own values and beliefs. Be sure that you can communicate how these fit with your career aspirations, because you will often be asked why you are interested in being a professional on that campus.
  • Read the student newspaper online! This is a great way to see the current issues or interests of the institution. It is especially enlightening to read the opinion section, so you are aware of some of the ideas and concerns of students. There is often a section advertising upcoming events and performances, and this can be telling of the culture of the institution.
  • Discuss your interview with a mentor. Ask questions about what you can expect from the various departments or people that may be interviewing you. Your mentor may also know more about the institution or have a friend that is currently working there. This can allow for you to get an insider’s perspective into working for the institution.
  • Write down three or four questions you would like to ask during each of your interviews. It is important that you always have questions to show your interest in the position. Spend some time thinking about what you would like to know from each individual or group you are interviewing with. Often you will interview with the person that would be your direct supervisor, so what would you like to know about that relationship? A couple questions I ask include: “What are some examples of the support you provide for new professionals in this position?” or “Can you describe what your relationship is like with those that are currently in the position?”
  • Remember to always be yourself. As you prepare remember that this stage in the process is all about fit. Being genuinely you will allow you to determine if this would be a good fit as well as help the department to determine the same. You wouldn’t want to be in a place that didn’t appreciate and support the real you, would you?

Amy Moreno-Kieffer
Student Affairs Job Hunting Blog

April 1, 2010 at 12:23 pm 2 comments

Things to Consider When Scheduling an On-Campus Interview

Congratulations! You have just been invited to do an on-campus interview! It is official; you are one of the institution’s top candidates. Here are a few things to consider when you are scheduling your on-campus interview.

Can I honestly see myself working for this institution? Hopefully, you asked yourself this question before applying for the position. Now that you have been invited for an on-campus interview, really think about what it would mean for you to take the position. Will you enjoy the location, are your values truly in line with the mission and vision of the institution and the department, what will you need to do to relocate, or what is absolutely necessary for you with regards to benefits of the position?

What is the cost to me? Will the institution be paying for your travel expenses, hotel, and meals? If so, will they pay for them up front or reimburse you? Be aware that some institutions will expect that if you are offered the position and do not accept, you will pay back a portion of your expenses to the institution. (This is another really good reason to be sure that you are interested in the institution.)

When will I receive my itinerary? An itinerary of your visit is an essential piece that will help you to prepare for the variety of interview and dining experiences you will have. If an itinerary is not mentioned by the search committee member that you are contact with, don’t hesitate to ask! Look for my next post that will present you with suggestions on how to prepare for an on-campus interview.

When should I schedule the on-campus interview? This requires an assessment of your availability as well as the dates the institution is holding on-campus interviews. Be sure that you are available the day before and after for travel. If you have had other on-campus interviews prior to this one, consider their time frame for filling the position. Will you have enough time in between interviews to give each institution fair consideration? Consider if there is a possibility that you may be offered a position prior to going on a scheduled on-campus interview. What will your plan be?

Amy Moreno-Kieffer
Student Affairs Job Hunting Blog

March 24, 2010 at 12:23 am Leave a comment

The Situational Interview

Each institution has their own way of interviewing potential candidates prior to inviting them for an on-campus interview. An example involves explaining how you would respond to specific situations that you might encounter in the position. Your future colleagues often create the situations, which can be telling of issues that commonly occur in that department. The committee may send you the situations in advance, so that you have time develop a clear action plan. Here are a couple of tips for preparing for your situational interview:

• Give yourself plenty of time to process each situation
• Talk with your classmates and cohort members about the situations
• Ask your supervisor to discuss the situations and your ideas for responding to each
• Create an outline to respond to each question within the scenario
• Consider the values and mission of the institution and department when responding
• Research department or institution policies that may impact the actions you take
• Finally, practice your answers aloud to ensure that you are concise and to the point

Amy Moreno-Kieffer
Student Affairs Job Hunting Blog

March 19, 2010 at 12:23 am Leave a comment

Tips to Be Successful at a Placement Exchange

On the last night of a recent placement exchange, I sat down with my colleagues (Taren Reker and Rolando Chacon, Iowa State University) and we all brainstormed tips that helped make our experience successful. The following ideas served the three of us well, so I wanted to share our thoughts.

  • Use plastic page protectors and a binder: For each interview include the mission, vision, Job description, highlights of your experiences that will be applicable, Institution Lingo, questions for the interview, and any materials received from them
  • Have a page of inspiration to look at if you need a boost
  • Write Thank-you’s as soon as possible after the interview. Choose a couple specific ideas that the interviewer mentioned that really made you excited about the position. Be ready for employers to ask for electronic thank-you’s as a way of promoting sustainability.
  • Do not compare your conference experience to others; every individual has their own fit.
  • Talk with other candidates. It will make you feel at ease, and you will meet a lot of people in the field. Employers can get a sense of what you are like outside of the interview if they happen to see how you are interacting with other candidates.
  • If you are able to, attend with someone you know. You can really help each other understand the process. It is comforting to see familiar faces, and have an outlet to talk about your experiences afterwards.
  • Take mental breaks. Go for a quick walk outside during your off time. A change of scenery can be refreshing.
  • Arrive to your interview waiting area early.
  • Bring snacks to eat throughout the day.
  • You will get a lot of information about each institution, as well as small gifts. Have a bag to store everything throughout the day.

Finally, recognize that you will be a stronger interviewer after this experience. It may be challenging or even overwhelming at times, but remember to be yourself. Pay attention to institutions that you felt a connection with, and those that may not be the best fit. Best wishes on a successful placement exchange!

Amy Moreno-Kieffer
Student Affairs Job Hunting Blog

March 5, 2010 at 12:23 am 1 comment

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