Organizing Multiple Interviews

With multiple interviews at a convention like the Modern Language Association (MLA) , you have the added stress of coordinating them all as you receive calls or email invitations. Keep a clear and visible schedule, perhaps one you can fold and carry in your pocket everywhere you go, or use a calendar app on your smartphone or device, whichever you’re more comfortable with. We have both used folded pieces of paper where we could easily see the entire interview week (Thursday through Sunday at MLA) at a glance, printing out a week of iCal with spaces between scheduled interviews to add others in open slots. 

Keep all your important information on that calendar, or in an attached note:

  1. the name of school
  2. the times of each interview
  3. the hotel name and room number
  4. the contact name and telephone number (if provided in advance)
  5. the names of committee members (if provided)
  6. any questions or issues they’ve told you in advance they want to discuss (optional).

At a convention like MLA, it’s important to remember that the location of job interviews might be spread across a two-or-more-mile radius, depending on the city of the convention and the school you’re interviewing with. For instance, MLA has

  • two main conference hotels (one for foreign languages and one for English language and literatures),
  • an exhibit hall that usually also houses the job barn (the big open area with 100 tables crammed together for interviewing candidates en masse),
  • an additional 6-8 hotels that MLA contracts rooms with, within a 1-2 mile radius of the main conference hotels, and
  • random hotels in other parts of town that departments have booked when they don’t want to use the job barn or couldn’t get a room in one of the MLA-chosen hotels.

You might have an interview scheduled in the job barn and one in the Embassy Suites at the 2-mile radius. And another in the Holiday Inn and Suites on the other side of that diameter. This is why, when you start scheduling interviews in your calendar, you should always leave 30 minutes in between the end of one interview and the start of another. An hour is better.

If you do receive a lot of interview invitations and you find your schedule is beginning to get packed, remain polite and good-humored but don’t hesitate to say that a time doesn’t work for you. You CAN tell the caller that you have openings at ___ and ____, if they happen to have openings then. Schools aren’t going to not interview you if you can’t take their first, or even second or third, available slot. But this also means you might have to interview at 8am. (That can actually be a good thing, as everyone who follows you has to live up to your amazingness. But if you have a 7pm interview, prepare to kick up the energy, as the committee’s already seen 10 people that day. Leave them wowed so they forget those other 10!)

Think seriously beforehand about whether you do want to interview with every school you hear from. You may decide to decline an interview or two, which is fine. You’ll decide this based on what schools you might actually consider taking a job from. (Some, admittedly, we are happy to get an interview offer from, but they often end up being practice interviews compared to some of the jobs we’re better fits for.) Some jobseekers have a rule that they won’t do more than six, or ten, or whatever. We’ve both managed to squeeze in many more, but we are both pretty energetic and at least one of us had a driver — that makes a huge difference! If you have multiple interviews, all of which you really want to go to, consider bringing a partner, friend, or family member along to MLA, rent a car (or drive to MLA instead of fly), plan your driving routes, and have them drop you off and pick you up curbside. Of course, that may not be an option for everyone. So choosing to do more than six in two days requires you to really consider your own abilities and personality and resources. If you do, make sure to pack plenty of energy snacks and schedule some major relaxation time after the convention to recover.