RU GSE Student Blog

A Student Perspective

Operation Get a Job


I’m going to be very upfront with you. This post is selfish. In just under a month, I’m going to be officially launching into interview season as I apply for jobs in student affairs. While it’s very apropos for me to be thinking about interview preparation now, I think it can be helpful for you, too! Let’s face it, none of us will be grad school forever, right??? If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely involved in some sort of education field. Whether that’s teaching, student affairs, or administration, you want to nail those interviews. So, here are some tips on how to help you navigate the job search process.

excelStay Organized: Make sure you know exactly where & when you’ve applied for a position. I suggest keeping an excel spreadsheet with the following:

          • the name of position/institution/organization
          • brief position description
          • date that you applied
          • what items you submitted (i.e. cover letter, resume, references), which references you selected
          • password for online account
          • contact info

Brand Yourself: Make it easy for employers to get a sense for who you are even before you walk into personal-branding-wordsthe interview. From your documents (resume, cover letter, references), to business cards and portfolios, create your own personal brand. This starts with making sure that your resume, cover letter, and reference pages are consistent. Try to make each page look like “your stationary.” Also, be sure to make some business cards. If you’re a Rutgers student/employee, you can order some with the official Rutgers seal. For directions on how to order these, click here. Finally, you may want to consider creating a portfolio (either in print or online). A great, FREE platform to create an interactive ePortfolio is For ideas on how to organize your ePortfolio, check out mine.


Update Social Media: It goes without saying that you should be sure that your Facebook profile, Twitter Page, Instagram site, etc. do not have any content or photos that are inappropriate. Employers actually look at these sites, and they judge you for them! If you’re not comfortable having a status or a photo plastered on the front page of The Targum, then it’s probably something you should remove from your social media accounts altogether. Just as making sure your social media sites are appropriate is important, so too is putting your professional self adequately “out there.” If you don’t have a Linked-In account (or it’s been years since you updated it), fix that! Employers look at your Linked-In to get a sense of your professional presence. Also, Linked-In is a create way to connect with old employers and colleagues in order to expand your professional network. Here’s my Linked-In.

Tap Into Your Network: Reach out to your network for help throughout your job search. Whether you’re asking someone to review your resume or inquiring into a job opportunity, your network can help you!


Prepare! Once you land the interview, take the time to prepare. Here are some easy steps you can take in your preparation:

  • Carefully review the job description
  • Peruse the website & other online resources (newspapers,
  • Visit the site: If it’s a school or institution of higher education that’s nearby, take a trip to campus. Hang out in the student center. Talk to random people. It may feel a little weird, but this will help you understand what’s really going on at the institution.
  • Memorize your resume!!!
  • Develop an elevator pitch: Here are some tips on creating your elevator pitch.
  • Review frequently asked interview questions. Don’t memorize, but familiarize yourself with your main points. (Check out some sample questions at the end of this post)

Use your Resources: At Rutgers, the Career Services Office has TONS of resources right at your disposal. You can make an appointment to see a career counselor, OR you could simply scour their comprehensive website. Check out some of Career Services quick links to help you with the job search.

Check out this simple video with suggestions on how to excel in the interview process. It’s not the most exciting clip, but focus on the message:

Example Questions for Teaching Positions:

adapted from

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What type of reading program did you use in student teaching?
  • If I walked into your classroom during reading time, what would I see?
  • Tell me what you know about the 4-block Literacy Model.
  • What is your personal educational philosophy?
  • If you could design the ideal classroom for the elementary grades what would it look like?
  • Which subject area do you believe is your strength, which is your weakest? What steps will you take to improve in this area?
  • What are the most important or worthwhile qualifications of a good teacher?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
  • Describe your student teaching successes and failures?
  • Describe a good lesson, explain why it was good.
  • How would you go about planning a lesson?
  • How would you individualize a curriculum for students at various levels?
  • How would you identify special needs of students?
  • What methods do you use for classroom management? Describe one difficult incident with a student, and how you handled it.
  • How would you handle difficult parents?
  • Give me an example of a rule or procedure in your classroom?
  • What methods have you used or would you use to assess student learning?
  • What does being “at-risk” for school failure mean?
  • What are some of the factors/conditions that might put a child at-risk?
  • What experience have you had incorporating computers in a classroom?
  • What grade level would you be most comfortable teaching?
  • Are you a team player? If so, please give me an example.
  • What was the last educational book you read?

Example Questions for Student Affairs Positions

(adapted from

  • What attracted you to our institution and/or position?
  • Why do you feel you are qualified for this position?
  • What are some of your long-range and short-range goals and objectives?
    • How have you prepared yourself to achieve them?
  • What do you hope to accomplish personally and professionally in this position?
  • Give an example of a successful theory-to-practice experience.
  • Give an example of an unsuccessful theory-to-practice experience.
  • What human/student development theories do you use in your daily professional life?
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • Define success.
  • What is your approach/philosophy toward student discipline?
  • What is your approach/philosophy toward programming?
  • Can you give us some examples of programs/activities you have planned and/or presented?
  • What are some of the challenges/issues facing new professionals?
  • What is your management style?
  • Have you had previous experience in supervising staff or other individuals?
    • What was their level of responsibility?
  • How do you hold staff accountable for their responsibilities?
  • How do you deal with conflict?
  • How do you deal with ambiguity?
  • What computer skills do you possess?
  • Have you ever had to terminate an employee?
  • How would you answer a charge that one of your actions was racist, sexist, or homophobic?
  • What training and development experiences have you had?
  • How will you help those you supervise pick and choose their battles?
  • Describe a crisis situation that you’ve faced and how you handled it?
  • What has been the most difficult decision that you’ve had to make?
  • What is your style in dealing with conflict/confrontational situations?
  • How do you prioritize your time and activities?
  • Do you have any experience advising student groups or organizations?
  • What do you see as the major challenges/issues facing students today?
  • What experience have you had working with special populations of students?
  • What do you feel are the special issues facing males/females/athletes/students of color/international students/gays/lesbians/bi-sexual students?
  • What 2-3 things are most important to you in a job? Why?
  • How would you deal with the transition of a staff that was supervised by your predecessor?
  • What transition issues do you think you will face if you are offered and accept this position?
  • What do you expect from a supervisor?
  • Do you plan to take classes?
  • What characteristics do you work best with?
  • What characteristics frustrate you when working with another person?
  • What did you enjoy most and least about your current/last position?
  • Have you ever quit a job? Why?
  • How/why did you select your college/university?
  • Who are your role models?
  • What do you consider as your greatest strengths? What are the areas in which you need improvement?
  • What would your staff members list as your strengths?
  • What is one of your proudest achievements or accomplishments?
  • How do you respond when your opinion is in the minority?
  • How would you explain a policy to your staff that you may not agree with in theory, yet must enforce?
  • What do you do in your spare time? How do you deal with stress?
  • Tell us about an article or book you’ve read recently which had an impact on you personally or professionally.
  • What other positions have you held? How were they obtained? Why did you leave?
  • What do you do to keep yourself motivated? How do you motivate others?
  • What questions do you think we should ask that you didn’t get a chance to answer?
  • What are four things I will remember about you after this interview?
  • Why should we hire you?

For now, just take a deep breath & dive into the job search. If you keep a positive outlook & do your best, one day you will find yourself celebrating just like Homer…

job got


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