Tackling Job Interviews at Teaching-Centered Colleges

Many candidates for faculty positions at teaching-centered colleges encounter during interviews the question, “What is your five-year plan?” A recent advice column in The Chronicle of Higher Education gives tips for answering this question.

First, it’s important to do your homework and determine where the school is on the spectrum of research and teaching, writes Karen Kelsky, founder and president of The Professor Is In, which offers advice and consulting services on the academic job search and on all aspects of the academic and postacademic career. If a college is geared toward teaching but expects its faculty to have some scholarly pursuits, a candidate can mention scholarly goals in a big-picture way, talk about the rotation of courses you’d like to develop, and share your vision for larger curriculum building or program development.

If the college is even more geared toward teaching, a description of your five-year plan should focus almost entirely on teaching and service, Kelsky writes. Discussions about research should center on the scholarship of teaching and learning. Make sure to learn the school’s vernacular surrounding teaching and communicate how your plans for teaching fall in line with the school’s vision of education.

“Remember: A question about your professional plans for the next five years is an opportunity to show that your vision meshes with that of the hiring college in a way that will make you — in order of importance — both (a) tenurable and (b) happy there,” Kelsky writes.