A Community College Teaching Career: 2. The Hiring Process

The hiring process for any individual community college position may be different from that of a four-year institution and may vary widely from that of a different community college. Candidates who apply for a position at a two-year college should be aware of these differences from the outset and adjust their expectations accordingly. The following paragraphs sketch out some of these differences and the reasons behind them. Please note, though, that hiring practices at two-year colleges are as diverse as the colleges themselves. Always ask the college for clarification if the process is not clear.

The Position Itself

Colleges usually have a campus-wide mechanism for deciding which positions will be opened in a given year. The proposal for a new position begins with the department, but the process of obtaining a new full-time line is competitive, based on the projected college budget for the next year and enrollment and program demands as measured by statistical data. New positions may not be announced until late in the fall semester or early in the spring semester. It is also common to advertise in the summer for temporary full-time positions replacing faculty members on leave or unexpected retirees.

The Processes

These are often controlled by the college governing board policy, union agreements, and strict state guidelines for public community colleges. The human resources department often directs the process and may require a standard format for the interviews and similar interaction of committee members with all candidates. Human resources will often be the first point of contact for community college applicants. Typically, candidates should expect less social interaction with those making hiring decisions at a public community college than at four-year colleges or universities, especially private ones. The hiring process may not include lunch or dinner with department faculty members, a campus tour, or even a coffee break. Job candidates should not be put off by these practices; while candidates may interpret community college hiring practices as impersonal or unfriendly, community colleges are simply striving to treat all candidates equally.

The Budget for the Interview Process

Historically, budgets for hiring are very limited at two-year colleges. In part, this may be due to the fact that community colleges, even when they advertise nationally, tend to attract enough qualified candidates regionally, thus avoiding the expenses of a true national search (Twombly 438–41; Breznau). Advertising for a position may take place in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in local newspapers, and in any statewide registries of positions. Rarely do community colleges send a committee to the annual MLA convention. Many colleges pay no travel expenses for on-campus interviews, while some will award a stipend, if it is requested, especially to low-income or underrepresented group candidates. The candidate should learn what expenses, if any, will be paid before agreeing to the interview.

Continue to 3. Secrets of the Interview.