9 Tips for a Successful Interview

Whether this is the first time you’ve interviewed for a leadership position at a higher education institution or you’re a pro, smart candidates always start their job searches by perfecting their resume and brushing up on their interviewing skills. Here are nine interview tips to help you impress the search committee and secure the job.

  1. Do Your Homework
    Research is a mandatory first step in preparing for any interview. Find out as much as you can about the institution, including some of the challenges that current leadership may be facing. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be in the interview. 

    • Review the institution’s website and related marketing materials.
    • Search the internet for information, news, and significant data about the institution.
    • Do a deep dive into faculty, staff, Regents, and Trustees. Look for connections you may have with them.
  2. Consult an Expert
    Your AGB Search consultant is a powerful key to a successful interview. Ask the consultant to fill you in on the particulars, including:

    • Names and backgrounds of the search committee members and others you will meet.
    • Interview schedule.
    • Follow-up protocol. 
    • General or specific queries you might have about the experience.
  3. Practice, But Don’t Memorize
    Interviews can be nerve-wracking, so don’t hesitate to:

    • Enlist your peers to help you with a trial run.
    • Practice answering a mix of typical questions and a few you weren’t expecting.
    • Consider filming yourself or, at a minimum, look into a mirror when practicing answers. 
  4. Role Play Committee Members
    Imagine you are a committee member asking questions. What would you want to know?

    • Don’t dismiss their ability to dig deep on you. They may know a lot about you already.
    • Develop answers regarding negative information they may have seen or gaps in your work history.
    • Always finish an answer to an uncomfortable question with a positive twist.
    • Share ways in which you might tackle challenges or help the institution grow.
  5. Video Interviews Are a Production
    Video interviews are a definite possibility. Preparation is a must.

    • Review all technical details regarding the platform that will be used.
    • Set up a proper, non-distracting background in a quiet room.
    • Front lighting is a must. Set up lights and test in advance.
    • Audio is just as important. Set levels and test in advance. 
    • Dress professionally, as you would for an in-person interview.
  6. Have a Two-way Conversation
    Approach the interview as a dialogue, not an interrogation.

    • Be thorough in your responses, but concise.
    • Leave time for their follow-up questions.
    • Ask your own questions, including thoughts on the future of the institution.
    • Pay attention to their visual and verbal cues as you speak.
  7. Display Confidence
    Chances are, the first question will be a variation on “Tell us about yourself?”

    • Deliver a focused response that reflects on your background as it may apply to the institution.
    • If asked a tough question, pause briefly and consider your answer. Don’t get flustered.
    • Address any issues in your experience or background that could give pause to the committee. Be honest but don’t overshare.
  8. Ask for the Job
    If you like what you hear and you are confident this is the right position for you, don’t be bashful.

    • Don’t be hesitant to express your interest in working at the institution.
    • Ask the search committee what the top qualities are that they are looking for in a candidate. 
    • Reiterate why you are a strong match for the position.
  9. Follow Up Immediately
    Express your sincere gratitude electronically or by mail the same day.

    • If the committee is large, email may be best and most expedient. If not, send a thank you card to each person you met with.
    • Note the names of everyone with whom you engaged.
    • Ask for their business cards.
    • Acknowledge all who contributed to the process no matter what their status or position.