Tips for WA Interviews
We'd like to encourage students to prepare for interviewing prior to their actual Writing Associate Fellowship interview. You can do so by:
- Knowing the position you are applying for. Make sure that you have taken the time to learn about the program and how you might fit into it. One suggestion is to come into the interview with a mental list of 2-3 specific aspects of the program you personally find exciting and can talk about. While doing this homework, make sure to separate hearsay from fact. Speaking with students who are currently in the position is a great idea, but also understand that what you hear is only one person's perspective. Most importantly, do not share negative hearsay during the interview. It puts you in a negative light and leaves the interviewers questioning why you want the position.
- Preparing to answer an opening question that asks about yourself. This question asks for you to discuss yourself in the context of the position you are applying for. For example, when we ask this question you can tell us about aspects of yourself that would make you a strong candidate for the position, such as " I like working with others."
- Knowing how to answer a question about your strengths and weaknesses. You should be prepared to discuss both and, when it comes to your weaknesses, explain what you are doing to address said weakness. No one is perfect, so we expect that everyone has a weakness or two. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses shows the interviewers that you are reflective and know yourself; these are two attributes many programs, fellowships, and employers look for.
- Preparing one question to ask at the end of the interview. Even if you think you know everything about the position, asking questions shows your interest in the position and the kind of question you ask gives the interviewers more insight into how you see the position. Some good questions from this year were: "Can you tell me more about English 1C?" "What do you see as the benefits and challenges of WAing?" "What have you learned as a WA that has surprised you?"
- Thinking about how honest you should be. Do you think the interviewers will appreciate that you always need extensions on papers or that you tend to be late to meetings? You do not want to lie during an interview, but there is some information that should be kept to yourself. It's true that we mentioned that you should discuss your weaknesses, but think of a way to present them in the most positive way possible.
- Dressing appropriately and conservatively. For the WA interview you do not need to wear a dress or suit, but it should be clear to the interviewers that you realize you are at an interview and that you take the position seriously. Coming to your interview straight from the gym or your bed doesn't make a good first impression.
- Knowing your audience. In this case the interviewers will be the director of the program and most likely another student involved in the program. Telling the person who will teach the gateway course and oversee your development as a WA that you think said course will be anything but a positive experience may not show you in the best light.
- Being aware that all interaction with the program from the time you are nominated to the time final decisions are made will be judged. Picking up an application the morning it is due, asking inappropriate questions before submitting the application, or requesting to have your interview switched may give off a less than impressive first impression. If you do need to switch your interview or you missed your interview, do not assume that it is easy to reschedule. Approach the situation assuming a switch will not be possible but that you would appreciate if your request can be taken into consideration.
- Reading the directions. We are often asked questions whose answers are already available online or in the application. For example, it is stated in several places that interviews would be held in the program director's office located in Trotter.
- Proofreading your application. Make sure there are no typos or careless errors. Such errors send an impression that you didn't spend time on your application.
- Being prepared. Get some practice and feedback before you are in the stressful situation of an interview. A mock interview can be helpful in identifying and eliminating unconscious nervous habits that could significantly distract interviewers and detract from their impression of you. At a minimum, dedicate some time to think about possible questions you might be asked and to visualize how you will respond to them.