How to Build an Effective On-Campus Interview Experience

  • Author
    Kurtis Watkins
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    Career Info

New staff members are an important asset to your operation. There is no greater moment of possibility than when a candidate arrives at the doorstep, and it is our role as hiring managers to make it a memorable experience.  Here are my tips to an amazing on-campus experience.

Welcome them to your institution: Your email or phone call that connects a prospective candidate to an on-campus interview should come packaged in excitement, information, and clarity. Let the candidate know you’re excited to meet them in person. Provide them with clear and detailed information, from arrival to departure. We offer candidates the opportunity to stay on campus the night before, if they are traveling from afar.

Expect their arrival: Your impression matters just as much as their impression of you, and you should be intentional about going the extra mile for the interview. Check that parking is not an issue, print out all materials for the candidate, and let your staff know when to expect your candidate. Plan their itinerary and include this in their welcome email or phone call before their arrival and again when they arrive.

Nice gestures go a long way: Open the door, greet them with a smile, and shake their hand. Offering a glass of water goes a long way. You want to make the candidate feel comfortable enough to shine brightly through their skills and abilities. I always begin an on-campus interview with, “Congratulations, you made it to the on-campus interview so you are a candidate that we are very interested in. You should feel confident in your abilities to have made it this far, so we are looking for the best of your experiences to make our final decision.” Also, give all candidates the time of day even if they are not what you are looking for.

Understand the marathon: Interviews for Residence Life and student affairs in general can include meeting multiple campus partners and last an entire day. Build in moments for the candidate to take a break. They will appreciate this rest and provide more energy throughout the interview.

Walk them out: Walk your candidates out to the door, or even to their car. See them off, wish them safe travels. You want to complete the experience with the same enthusiasm and care you began with. Follow up with an email, I know most interviewers will expect the candidate to send a thank you email, but the candidate has equally set aside their time to interview with you as well. Other offers may be on the table for them and you want to leave a lasting impression.

I always want candidates to want the position more than they expected. This gives a candidate the confidence to accept a position with enthusiasm and leaves you with a fresh start with a new hire. 

Kurtis Watkins
Stevens Institute Of Technology

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