It’s that time of the year again and I have had the opportunity to pass on some knowledge that mentors shared with me about navigating a placement exchange. There’s not an exact science to being successful, but there are some guidelines to follow that may help you be successful. Last year I wrote a post titled “Looking Back on OPE” with some tips on being successful at the exchange. I want to write a followup post about what you can do both at an exchange and what to do after your interviews are over. First things first, this isn’t an exhaustive list and by no means am I saying that you won’t be successful if you don’t follow these tips, I just want to share some information that may help candidates be successful.
Don’t talk about your interview at the exchange.
Let’s be honest, it’s rude to talk about people behind their back, but it’s also not a great idea to talk about how your interview went in the halls of the exchange. You never know who’s around you and this Student Affairs world is incredibly small. If you badmouth someone and it gets overheard, there is a very good chance that it will get back to your interviewer and it doesn’t make you look very good to the people around you. It’s understandable that you’ll want to talk to someone about your experience, so go back to your room and wait till you’re alone to call someone and vent about your experience.
Don’t worry about what you can’t change.
Don’t over-think the interview you just had because it’s not going to help you do well on the next one. After your interview, take a few minutes to think about what you did well and areas that you can improve on. Make an effort to address the areas of improvement in your next interview, but don’t worry about your past interview so much that you can’t focus on your current one. Instead of spending time thinking through what you said in your interview, spend some time doing some research on your next school so that you can go into the interview calm, focused and prepared.
Use thank you notes
Many exchanges are going paperless (finally), but it is still an unwritten rule at others to write paper thank you cards to employers after an interview. Some employers will request that you not waste paper and send them a note, in this case you could just send them an e-mail after your interview thanking them. When you’re in an interview, make sure that you write down each interviewer’s name and the correct spelling so that later when you’re writing out your thank you note or e-mail, you can make the card personal.
Be honest and proactive with your post-exchange timeline
After leaving an exchange, you will undoubtedly be contacted by several schools requesting an on-campus interview. You will never know how this will turn out in the end, but there are some steps you can take to try and estimate what your timeline could look like. During interviews, ask employers what their timeline is for on-campus interviews and make sure to take notes on this. Bring a blank calendar with you on your trip to mark down each employer’s timeline so you have an idea when they might want you to come to campus, should they call to schedule a second interview with you.
Sometimes, the school that is your last choice will contact you first and you’ll want to wait to schedule an interview until other schools call you. Employers understand that you will be contacted by many schools, make sure that you’re honest about where you are in your search and ask them how long they can give you to make a decision. This could look something like this: “Thank you for contacting me regarding this opportunity with your institution. At this time I am still reviewing materials from other institutions and I would like to know what your deadline for me would be to accept and on–campus interview with your department,” it’s not the most polished response, but you get the idea.
Do some follow-up
This goes along with sending employers thank you notes, but you should also touch base with the people who interviewed you after your time at the exchange has come to a close. If your resumé changes or you have more questions, it would be a good idea to contact your interviewer and touch base with them. Keep in mind that many interviewers are going to multiple exchanges and may not have time to get back to you until they return. If you haven’t heard anything from an employer two weeks after your interview at the exchange, send them an e-mail to politely ask where they are in their search process and if you’re still being considered as a candidate for their position; regardless of what they say, it will be good to know if you should still factor that institution into your decision.
That’s it for now folks. Next I’ll cover on-campus interviews. Good luck at your exchanges and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email feelintingley at gmail dot com or comment on the post.