Neal Kaplan I'm a director of technical communications working for a data analysis startup in Redwood City. I started as a technical writer, and since then I've also been learning about information architecture, training, content strategy, and even something about customer support. I'm also passionate about cross-team collaboration and user communities.

How do you interview with a search committee?

2 min read

  • Prepare. You should learn as much as you can about the client.
  • Have a plan. You will be asked about your background and experience regardless of the format of the interview.
  • It’s a good idea to practice.
  • You should distinguish yourself.
  • Calibrate and be on time.
  • The details matter.
  • Go ahead and follow up.

Search committee interviews are a lot more structured and formal than when you are the focus of a group.

There is not much of an opportunity for softer qualities such as warmth, sense of humor, or openness to come through. It is time to focus on the interview after you feel comfortable with the client and position. Pay particular attention to the background of the Chair of the Committee as he or she may ask the questions.

If you don’t know which one to give, ask “how long would you like me to speak?” If you make a joke, you can say “I will keep it brief, and if I see any of you nodding off I will know my life is pretty boring or I’ve talked too long.” The individuals with whom you are competing for the position will be equally qualified, and the search committee interviews are for determining the best fit.

The Board members were just finishing dinner when the candidate walked into the cavernous room. He walked to the empty chair at the head of the table and said, “I hope you all don’t want me to sing for supper.”

As he was offered a position, the Board Chair said, “We appreciate someone who has a sense of humor.” The candidate brought a big presentation to the meeting.

After the first two minutes, members thought to themselves, “please tell me he is not going to go through all forty pages of this document.” She didn’t notice that some members of the search committee weren’t grasping all of the complex details she was trying to explain. One candidate who entered the crowded room with overcoat, briefcase, umbrella and other things looked like he was ready for the job.

Thank you notes won’t make up for a bad interview, but they are a detail that can make a difference.

How do you address a search committee in an interview?

For search committee members you’re meeting for the first time when directly addressing someone on a search committee, at the stage of a preliminary conference or phone interview.

What should I ask a search committee?

“How have the duties for this position evolved over time?”, “What do you believe to be the most critical duties of this position?”, or “Who do you work with most?” There are some good questions.

How do you conduct a search committee meeting?

  • The committee members should support you.
  • All committee members should be involved in discussions and search procedures.
  • Make meetings more productive.
  • Goals for the search should be discussed.
  • Discuss the position description and job competencies.
  • Establish ground rules for the committee

How does a search committee work?

The search committee is responsible for writing the job description and qualifications, recruiting for the position, evaluating applicants, participating in the interview process, and recommending candidates.

Who should serve on a search committee?

A search committee should be made up of trusted representatives of your organization, both volunteer and senior staff, and limited to seven members. It is easier to manage the committee, reach agreement, and handle scheduling if you do that.

How do you address a search committee?

Address to the individual named in the job posting, or to the members of the search committee.

Neal Kaplan I'm a director of technical communications working for a data analysis startup in Redwood City. I started as a technical writer, and since then I've also been learning about information architecture, training, content strategy, and even something about customer support. I'm also passionate about cross-team collaboration and user communities.

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