Interviewing - Before, During, and After

Got an interview coming up for a position at a college or university? Here is some surprising advice to help you ace the face-to-face.

First, be aware that the search committee is looking to answer two questions. One, can you do the job? And two, do we like you?  The first question is easy. In fact, since you have been invited for an interview, they already believe you can do the job.

It’s the second question—Do we like you?—that they want answered. To be the candidate they like best, here’s what you can do before, during, and after the interview.


  • Go into crazy researcher mode and review everything online about the school. Leave no online stone unturned.
  • If you are interviewing for a particular department, check their pages.    
  • What is the “tone” of their pages?  Is it a formal or friendly tone?
  • On LinkedIn check the profiles of those who might be on the interview team. Do you have anything in common with them that will help you make a personal connection?


  • Give firm handshakes, good eye-contact, use open body language and smile—a lot.  
  • Be an active listener. 
  • Use that same “tone” you learned from your online search. Sound like them to be like them.
  • Ask open-ended questions about the job. If you end up in a good conversation, then you’re on your way to being that “best” candidate.
  • Show a sense of humor. 
  • Tell stories about past work experience. Be humble, but show how you persevered and solved problems.
  • Collect everyone’s business cards.


  • Write a personal thank-you email to each person. Reflect on each person’s specific questions and topics. Add something fresh to what you said.

Patsy Zettler is an educator, instructional designer, and writer for higher education management.

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