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Adjunct teaching positions are part-time jobs and do not provide tenure opportunities for professors. As such, their primary duty is to teach the classes they are assigned. They usually don’t get involved in campus politics, nor do they participate in staff and faculty meetings as a regular part of their duties. Job interviews for adjuncts are not as structured as those for tenured faculty positions. When interviewing for an adjunct position, various questions will help candidates decide whether the work will satisfy their own needs.
While most college professors are required to hold a doctorate in their field of specialty, adjuncts usually only need to have a master’s degree. This is one of the first questions a candidate needs to ask before pursuing a job in a specific department. Job interviews for adjunct teachers often are done by department heads for specific classes. Many positions even may be filled by graduate students who use the experience as part of their training before receiving their degrees. At the same time, there are some colleges that require a doctorate degree, especially for adjuncts teaching highly technical subjects.
Adjunct teachers may or may not be required to have prior teaching expedience. Often, the most qualified adjunct has more real-world experience on a subject and has never stepped inside a classroom. Business adjunct professors often are culled straight from the business environment and make exceptional teachers. The question is important, however, so that candidates can find the appropriate venues to gain classroom experience if it’s needed. For example, a business executive may hold a series of workshops or offer her skills to the company’s training department before applying to the local college if teaching experience is a prerequisite.
This question is particularly important when candidates are mainly interested in a full-time teaching position. Getting a frank answer may not be easy, but by posing the question, candidates can get a feel for the culture at the college. For example, some colleges run internal job postings before they are made public. Adjunct professors often have access to the internal email and college bulletin boards and will find out about openings before anyone else. A department head may have stories about faculty members who started out as adjunct, proving the path may be fruitful after all.
Adjunct teachers need to know how much the college supports their efforts. Colleges that appreciate and respect the contribution of adjunct teachers provide online resources and contacts so adjuncts can find a syllabus for a class or who they can talk to about student problems. During the interview a candidate can find out if there are lounges that faculty members can use, if any bookstore discounts are extended to adjunct professors and where they can lodge complaints. Candidates should find out if there is an adjunct resource center, where and when they can get copies made and when testing centers might be available for them.
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Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."