25 Tips for #SAGRADS Navigating the TPE Onsite Event

  • Author
    Chris Campbell
  • Categories
    Interview Tips

TPE Onsite is here! Like many other grads gearing up for TPE Onsite in San Antonio, I’m nervous and anxious. Know that we’re all going to do great! There are more than enough positions for everyone.

Here are a few tips and advice to navigate the TPE Onsite event:

  1. Bring good questions to each interview. Before each interview, make sure you do your homework and learn about the institution.
  2. Maximize your experience as much as possible. While you’re focused on your interviews, make sure you find time to network and meet other grads and professionals.
  3. Tailor your response to that specific institution. Two institutions might ask you a similar question, but that doesn’t mean you always give the same response.
  4. Schedule yourself for success! Give yourself at least a half hour break between each interview. This will give you enough time to write a thank you note and get ready for the next interview. Most all, this will allow you to relax and reflect on the interview you just had. If you can avoid back-to-back interviews, please do. Otherwise, reach out the employer to let them know you will be a few minutes late.
  5. Hone the art of the thank you note. Don’t be generic—be specific and meaningful. Reference points you made during the interview, how employers answered your questions, and why you are still interested in the position. Sending thank you messages via email is a shortcut.
  6. Drink lots of water and get enough rest. Interviewers can tell when you’re exhausted and not giving your all.
  7. Know what you’re looking for in a position and be open to new possibilities that may arise while you’re at TPE Onsite. If you’re not interested in a school, don't accept the second interview out of fear of not having a job. Try to be honest with yourself so that you spend time and energy interviewing with schools that align with your values.
  8. Know your limits and listen to your body.
  9. Keep in mind—besides being yourself—that there’s no "right" way to job search.
  10. Set up expectations between yourself and your friends who are also searching.
  11. No one is leaving TPE Onsite with a job offer, so breathe and know that this isn’t a competition.
  12. Keep an open mind because you may go with a top choice, but feel drawn to something else once you start the process. 
  13. Go for a walk, break up the day, or take a longer lunch break.
  14. Have a couple of playlists to help set the mood.
  15. Refrain from talking about how passionate you are about working with students. This can come off as superficial. Passion doesn't tell employers anything about how you would perform in the role.
  16. If you get asked about weaknesses, it’s important to be authentic and honest. For some employers, this question is more about your own self-awareness, which allows the employer to see how well you really know yourself.
  17. You're going to get rejected at some point. It's okay. Take a deep breath, dust yourself off, and keep moving.
  18. Practice your small-talk. The walk from the waiting area to the table is your first impression with employers and can kick off a great start or a really awkward one.
  19. Say what you want about authenticity, but people are listening and people are connected to each other. That's real-talk, not a scare tactic. Complaining is for behind closed doors, not in candidate rooms, elevators, or local bars.
  20. Your search is your search and no one else's. It doesn't matter if you have five interviews and the candidate next to you has 20. A year from now, you’re only going to work one job. Does someone get an offer that you don't get? The reaction shouldn't be a comparison game, but more of a "good for them, not for me."
  21. The great thing about in-person interviews is that you can pick up on the non-verbals of employers. If they put down their pen, stop making eye contact, look behind you, check their watch, or say things like "Briefly explain a time when you..." or "In our short time that remains, please explain...", those are all signs that you need to wrap it up. You could have awesome answers to five questions or great answers to 10. The great answers to 10 questions will get you a higher score in the end. If you can't give the context of an example in 30 seconds or less, don't use it. We all work in student affairs. If you say you've dealt with a Title IX issue, we know what that means and we don't need five minutes of details. Focus on what YOU did in the moment, not what was happening in the moment. Highlight your decision-making, your accessing resources, your support of students and your follow-up.
  22. Your answer to "tell me about yourself and why you are interested in this position" should not be five minutes long. A brief overview of your previous experiences is fine and should focus more on why you want this job, not just any job. Be specific. Show off your research. Saying things like "Chicago is a great city" is not endearing to employers.
  23. Be genuine and let yourself shine.
  24. Enjoy your time, and trust that your preparation will guide you. 
  25. Be confident in your process, abilities, and experiences.
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