Prepping for Job Interviews During COVID-19

Applying for jobs is a daunting task regardless of the situation. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more grueling since many hiring processes have moved to online platforms that come with their own difficulties. Predicting the changes to a post-COVID educational landscape is not easy. Still, aspiring leaders in higher education will have to step up to the challenge as more colleges and universities opt for distance learning solutions.

Advanced degrees, like the Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration with a Concentration in Leadership Studies online program from William Paterson University (WP), offer the tools to become a successful leader in university institutions.

Students in WP’s program learn from experienced professionals of leadership and management to gain real-world skills through research projects. Graduates leave the program with a professional e-portfolio showcasing their work in line with the Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners, developed by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA).

Christine J. Pendleton from HigherEd Jobs cites a few important items that should be on your list before interviewing, including reflecting on why you got into higher education and mapping out your long-term goals. You should draft a clear answer for both questions and then analyze if the role or position you are applying for is aligned with your ambitions and career objectives.

It goes without saying that your CV or resume should be of primary consideration since most job searching contact is made online. Your resume’s first impression can be the decisive factor in whether you are invited for an interview. As Pendleton points out, avoid laundry lists of jobs you’ve held and focus more on noting what you have accomplished by working such jobs — hard and soft skills being keywords here.

Another important aspect is your list of references. How long has it been since your last contact with your references? Are they aware of your latest achievements? “You should think very carefully as to who you would like to include on your reference list,” Pendleton notes. “Your reference list should include someone who has supervised you, someone who would be considered a peer who has worked with you, and someone who has directly reported to you. Also, these people should have worked with you in some capacity recently.” Make sure to contact your references and refresh those working connections before and during the process.

Of course, thinking of innovative approaches to leadership is another pressing factor. Many colleges across the country have shifted their teaching models to 100% online or hybrid teaching. As the pandemic persists and vaccine rollout is slow, there is still much uncertainty about reopening campuses in the 2021 school year and beyond. This has already impacted educational institutions and will have unforeseen long-term consequences in financial departments.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is constantly updating its list of Higher Education Responses to Coronavirus with resources for administrators. If you’re interviewing for a position in this area, you may consider sharpening your problem-solving skills by thinking of possible solutions to current issues such as admissions and enrollment without SATs, ACTs or in-person interviews, pro-rated tuition refunds and admission of international students.

With the ever-changing world of educational administration, potential leaders must be up to date with the contemporary higher education system’s challenges. Professionals should be aware of the impact of the history of higher education on existing structures and institutions, as well as projections in the field of finance, law and policies.

Learn more about William Paterson University’s online Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration with a Concentration in Leadership Studies program.


HigherEd Jobs: Reflect on Your “Why”: Using the Pandemic for Career Preparation

National Conference of State Legislatures: Higher Education Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

National Adult Protective Services Association: Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators

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