Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Interview help?

Anonomous wondered this:
I have an interview with a CC and I'm wondering if anyone has had experience interviewing with CCs.  (This will be my first CC interview.)

The HR Lady at the CC in question told me that my interview will have the following components:

1. A 30-minute assessment; I will be given 30 minutes in which to write a response to a question of the hiring committee's choosing.  

2. Upon completion of the writing assessment, I will be presented with a sheet containing some of the questions that will be discussed during my interview.  I will be given five minutes to review the questions, and then I will meet the hiring committee and the interview part of the interview will begin.  This portion of the interview will last roughly 50 minutes.  

3.  During the interview part of my interview, I will be required to give a 10-minute presentation on a topic chosen by the hiring committee and revealed to my several days before the interview.

That's it.  If anyone has any insight into what I should expect at the interview, please reply!
What's that writing assessment about?  Little help anyone?

-- Second Suitor


Anonymous said...

I've never heard of anything like this before

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I haven't been part of the writing thing -- but, I have had colleagues who have had to do a mock grading of a paper and others who have had to role play counseling a student who was having a difficult time in a class.

I think the essay question part of theirprocess is a bit odd and I don't think it would be at all out of line to ask a question or two about this weird essay question. I'd ask them about the general topic -- is it a philosophical topic or a pedagogical topic...

A few general tips --

1) make sure you take a good look at their website -- and then have a couple of questions for the committee that will let you highlight your strengths. At the end of every list of interview questions I've ever had, they have the 'do you have any questions for us', question -- If your questions get answered during the interview, let them know what your questions were...

2) Make sure you don't make assumptions about the intellectual abilities of CC students. The best kind of answer on those questions is to say something about how your students will have different levels of preparation, and there's always a reason they are choosing a CC -- which makes the CC classroom both more rewarding and more challenging.

3) The kiss of death for many candidates is some implication that you'll be teaching down to your students or that you'll somehow lower your standards. Most philosophy courses are designed to transfer, so your students will need to be able to perform well at their transfer school. If you give them 'philosophy for dummies', you're really short changing them.

4) Watch your time, don't ramble and make sure you are answering the question they ask. I generally take the interview as a sample of how a candidate will handle classroom interactions.

Good luck! Teaching at a CC isn't nearly as bad as many folks think. Every day I have students who challenge me -- in the good way. They also constantly surprise me AND frustrate me -- often at the same time.

Anonymous said...

that is all so strange. I can't imagine how any of it gives reliable information about who is prepared for and fits with the job.

Dr. Killjoy said...

Holy Shit! That fucking rules the fucking school.

I think they should just give you an old SAT, a monologue from As You Like It, and 50 drinking straws out of which you must construct a bridge able to support half a kilo.

My advice: Spin everything so as both to glorify Jesus Christ.

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

I'm the author of the original post and I appreciate the feedback.

I asked the HR lady at the CC to tell me the topic of the writing assignment, but she said she was not permitted to do so. She wouldn't even give me a general idea of what to expect.

Anonymous said...

I have gone through the CC hiring process three times. Once I made it to the finals (final three candidates) and came in #2. The other two times I was eliminated in the semifinals. You have to be careful not to do too well on the writing test. They will think that you are one of those "university professors." If you have a Ph.D. you are at a disadvantage. If you are an ethnic minority you have an advantage. If you are a woman you have an advantage. If you are ideologically radical you are at a disadvantage. It is best to play the interviews very conservatively. They will look for any pretext to eliminate you from the competition. For instance, I moved around a lot when I was in my 20s. I knew one of the members of the hiring committee (this fact was public) and he told me after it was all over that many members of the committee concluded that I was not very stable and thus not fit for being a long-term member of the faculty. Community college searches are weird. I was forced to be more ambitious, to apply for university positions (even though my dream was to teach for a community college) and eventually found a TT position at a university.

Platowe said...

IPF 8:58--

If readers of this blog think that there aren't good, sensible philosophers at CCs, your post should disabuse them of their prejudice. Thank you.

Mr. Zero said...

If you have a Ph.D. you are at a disadvantage.Bullshit.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Mr. Zero: Bullshit on the "if you have a Ph.D. you are at a disadvantage for a CC job."

Many CC job ads say "MA required, Ph.D. preferred." They are not lying about the "preferred" part.

I'm an adjunct at a CC right now while trying to finish up my Ph.D. Frankly, I love teaching at the CC, and I think any philosopher would be foolish think of CC jobs as somehow second rate.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Killjoy just made my day.

Anonymous said...

"If you have a Ph.D. you are at a disadvantage. Bullshit." Another pearl of wisdom from the appropriately named "Mr. Zero." Statistically-speaking, more faculty at CCs do not hold Ph.D.s than do. If you have a Ph.D., the onus is on you to convince the hiring committee that (i) you have no desire to be a researcher, (ii) you will stick around and (iii) you are not a narcissistic prick who will lord his accomplishments over his/her colleagues. To quote Alistair Norcross: "I would recommend some more careful thought before posting next time." --Mr. One

Anonymous said...

This is the second time that I have thought that Mr. One is a complete ass.

At the very least it seems that the affect of having a Ph.D. on a CC hiring committee must depend on where that CC is located. In large metropolitan areas I would be surprised to find that, in the humanities, Ph.D.s were the exception rather than the rule. (Miami-Dade, by way of example has more philosophy faculty with Ph.D's than without)

It seems the what one needs to show in an interview with a CC is that you can 1) handle the work load (at least 4/4, often much higher) and 2) that you actually give a damn about your students (as in, are willing to put in the effort to help those who have likely struggled with school).

Even if, at a particular school, the preponderance of teachers did not have a Ph.D. that would not be evidence that the school did not prefer one. It might simply have been that because of the market none were forthcoming.

James Rocha said...

Although my evidence is based on having written two such essays, they tend to be pedagogical. Something like, "What are your teaching strengths given a student population that is racially and culturally diverse and has a great deal of full time workers?"

I do think a PhD can be a disadvantage, especially if from a top school. Not because they don't want such a person, but they don't trust such a person.

They know that you know that this is a bad year for getting university jobs, and they don't want to think you are going to be there until the market improves. If you can convince them this is not the case, the better you'll do.

Anonymous said...

What is Mr. One's problem???

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...


I simply don't think you have accurate information about CCs and Ph.D. faculty -- the last two philosophy hires at my CC have Ph.D.s. This is also the case for the Comm Studies folks as well.

At my CC, in the liberal arts faculty, about 65% of the total faculty have Ph.D.s and a much larger percentage of the hires in the last 5 years have them.

It's also not the case that women or minorities have any advantage, at least not at my CC. The HR folks have asked us to insure at least one of the finalist is a minority, but that does nothing to get the person hired.

I do know that inaccurate knowledge about CCs and condescending attitutdes have ruined the chances of more than one candidate.

Anonymous said...

At least Mr. One has one on Mr. Zero. Anyone out there want to be Mr. Two?

Anonymous said...

This is difficult. Which commenter should I believe: Inside the Philosophy Factory, who actually works at a Community College and is bringing facts and experience to the table... or some schmuck?
I wish I were an epistemologist, then I'd know.

Anonymous said...

Inside the Philosophy Factory is entirely wrong about the essay question being "a bit odd." Actually, at every CC interview I have done (about half a dozen in Oregon, California and Arizona) it is par for the course.

Anonymous said...

Come on! Someone has to say something about 3:09pm's life project.

With all due respect to the CC profs out there, whom I firmly believe to be smart, productive philosophers, did anyone else produced a mortified chuckle upon learning that 3:09's "dream was to teach for a community college".

I was especially taken with this dream being dashed upon securing a TT job at a 4-yr university.

Although I can understand someone developing a preference for teaching at a CC, how low must the ambition bar be set for someone to have that as their dream?

Glaucon said...


Two can be as bad as one;
It's the loneliest number since the number one.

If only I were a philosopher of mathematics, I'd know what is to do a number (as in, "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do").

All I know is that I'm not going to be Mr. Pink...

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I've had a few CC interviews in the midwest and none of them have had an essay exam component.

Further, I've been part of many CC hiring committees both in philosophy and other disciplines, and we've never asked for a timed writing sample.

If it isn't odd -why not be helpful and explain what kinds of quesitons they asked?

Anonymous said...

I have conducted many job interviews - although none of them for academic jobs - and this is the most hilarious, stupidest interview I've ever heard of.

All of the criticisms I can think of for it are so obvious that they're not worth mentioning. The writing test is particularly egregious.

Anonymous said...

3:46 is definitely a Millian elitist...Socrates knows what it is like to be a fool and to be a brilliant philosopher, hence he chooses the better: to be a brilliant philosopher. Dr. X knows what it is like to be a community college instructor and a university professor, hence he would obviously choose the better: to be a university professor. To each their choose to be an elitist snob!!

Anonymous said...

There is a recent study on job satisfaction of faculty at 2 year community colleges (complete summary of the findings on the Chronicle of Higher Education site). Here is an excerpt that undermines the empirical basis for several of the claims made in this thread: "Community-college faculty members who have a Ph.D. are less likely than their peers with a bachelor’s degree or less to report overall job satisfaction, satisfaction with their salaries, or satisfaction with their benefits."

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Isn't that because getting a Ph.D. generally isn't a good investment?

My pals with BAs have had their jobs since the early 90s.... I've had mine since 2003. They've been promoted, changed jobs for better ones etc. I've had little room to negotiate salary and a significantly lowered ability to change jobs when the conditions aren't right.

I suspect that a similar survey of SLAC profs would say something similar, for the reasons I mention above.