A former student of mine is preparing to enter the market and is seeking a teaching position at a few independent schools. I have done the market thing in the past. It is exciting, stressful, and exhausting. I was telling her that the process, if it is done correctly, could be more of an endurance test. I have hit homers in the past during a campus visit, but like any good ball player, I have struck out too. My best advice is not to be nervous. I have found during my experiences that nerves can be a killer; I have seen my nerves force me into a state of uneasiness. Though I have not always accepted jobs that have been offered to me, my best campus visits have been for positions that I would have wanted, but was not going to kill myself for. Hence, you become very relaxed. On the other hand, there have been positions I really wanted that I did not get; often times, I tried too hard because I really wanted it. Thus being one’s natural state was difficult.
For those of you who have real jobs (non-academic jobs), the process is very interesting. From my own experiences, private schools like to test a candidate’s endurance. For example, on my last campus visit, the agenda had me interviewing with 6 – 7 people between 8:00 – 3:30: Speaking to the dean of faculty, dean of students, department chair, headmaster, and having lunch with the department is common. We, as do many schools, ask candidates to observe a class then teach a class later that day. Of course, candidates know in advance what they are teaching; the course is usually in their area of expertise. I do not know about the experiences of others, but I always hated the last part of the interview — meeting the headmaster. This takes place during the last hour of the endurance test. By this point, you have no more questions to ask. You are thinking about your flight or drive home as well as the number of bad questions you asked. Teaching a course is a must for many places, but tends to be a poor way of evaluating a candidate. Classes operate best once a natural rapport has transpired. This takes time.
Here is a description of a school conducting a national search for a candidate. My best advice dear student is this: Do not over prepare for the interview. Walk in knowing that hey if I get it… cool — but if not, oh well. I assure you it will force you to relax.
Each year, after identifying our teaching, coaching and other needs, the Dean of the Faculty along with department chairs or administrative officers will review all the appropriate resumes and schedule interviews with candidates. Interviews consist of a day-long visit to the campus to meet with all relevant school personnel (the Dean of the Faculty, the department chair, Dean of Students, Athletic Director, etc.). A tour of the campus with a student is part of the process. A class visitation and lunch with department members is scheduled. Candidates are called upon to teach a class.