Vice-chancellors play essential roles in the daily running of universities and other tertiary institutions. They are responsible for the day-to-day administration of their institutions. They also secure a good financial base that can support the achievement of their university’s missions and objectives.
These professionals are usually vetted before being allowed to act as vice-chancellors. You will face an interview panel made up of several parties seeking to establish whether you are an excellent choice.
This article will therefore look at a few questions that you should expect in your interview. Most of them will be based on your experience, skills, and modes of operation. Take a look at the following:
1. Why are You Interested in This Position?
Why do you want to become a vice-chancellor? There are many reasons why one would want such a position. However, make sure that yours will benefit the institution, students, or the stakeholders. Also, avoid mentioning material perks that come with the job.
I have worked in this institution for quite some time, and I am therefore well acquainted with its objectives and missions. I am positive that I have all it takes to further their achievement. I was also an acting vice Chancellor at one point, which got me acquainted with this position.
2. What are the Roles of a Vice-Chancellor?
Do you know what your work as a vice-chancellor will entail? You can either choose to stick to the job description or mention the roles of the former vice-chancellor. All in all, make sure that you only say job-specific functions.
A vice chancellor acts as the principal administrative and academic officer of the institution. Some of the leading roles include performing leadership, academic and administrative functions to the entire university, representing the university, carrying out essential ceremonial and civic duties, and furthering the university’s missions, aims, and objectives.
3. What Qualities Does a Vice-Chancellor Need to Be Effective?
Do you know what it takes to be an exceptional vice-chancellor? Every job comes with its inherent set of qualities. Ensure that you get this question right by mentioning some of the attributes, skills, and behaviors that a vice-chancellor needs.
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A vice chancellor should mainly be able to rally and inspire others towards a common goal, which is the achievement of the university’s missions and objectives. Other qualities include integrity, vision, and abilities to innovate new technologies and build good relationships with all stakeholders( These are just a few qualities. You can mention as many as you want)
4. Mention a Challenge That You Faced During Your Last Role. How Did You Solve It?
The interviewer wants to know whether you are a problem solver or not. Finding solutions to obstacles is a quality that hiring managers and interviewers are always looking for in employees. Therefore, give your best problem-solving experience.
When I took over as a campus principal, the main challenge was shortage of hostels. The university was admitting way too many students without minding whether it had adequate facilities. Most students were forced to rent apartments outside the school, an arrangement that was untenable for those from humble backgrounds. I had a meeting with the topmost administration of the varsity. I managed to convince them that we should turn some of our unused halls into hostels for students who were having problems paying rent in the nearby apartments.
5. Briefly Describe Your Experience
What are some of the roles pertaining to this field that you have played? Do you have any career experience that can make you a good vice-chancellor? This is a chance to sell yourself, so mention as many experiences as possible.
I first became a project management lecturer at 25. I was an associate lecturer teaching a few classes a week before being promoted to a full lecturer. Joining this field at such a younger age taught me how I could contribute to the missions and objectives of the university. I then left for further education and came back as a department head, lecturing a few classes a week while mainly performing administrative duties. I served for ten years before being promoted to a campus principal, a position I have held till now.
6. Mention Your Expected Daily Routines as a Lecturer
How will your day look if you get this position? The best answer to this question is to borrow from your former or outgoing vice-chancellor. What are some of the things that he/she does daily?
As a vice-chancellor, I believe that my day will be loaded with meetings from as early as 9 am. We will plan different events and activities and get status updates before swiftly talking to the school career advisers of other campuses. I would then sit and do loads of paperwork, reply to emails and speak to all campus staff. I may also attend any planned ceremony. ( Try to be as detailed as possible given that this is usually a busy role)
7. Mention a Mindset and Strategy Required For This Role?
Have you thought of a way of working that will make you an effective vice-chancellor? What about a perspective that will guide your operations and varsity-related work? You should be able to relate whatever you mention to the job.
The best strategy that any vice-chancellor can use in their work is to center everything around the institution’s objectives and missions. Every job done should aim at furthering what the school intends to achieve. As for the right mindset, I believe that focusing on results helps one become an effective vice-chancellor.
8. Mention a Challenge That You Foresee In This Role
By now, you should understand what being a vice-chancellor entails. This knowledge will help you identify some potential challenges if you get the job. However, desist from mentioning common challenges with easy solutions lest you come off as incompetent.
This is a world-class university, which places lots of expectations in this position. It is pretty scary knowing that I will be entrusted with this university’s future. However, I am positive that I have all it takes to manage this institution well, thanks to my vast experience and comprehensive skill set, which will help me live up to all these expectations.
9. How Will You Stay Motivated In This Role?
Even though this may be a lucrative position, it comes with a lot of pressure. You will be responsible for the university’s fate in your tenure as vice-chancellor, which is not as easy as it may sound. You should therefore have a source of motivation if things get tough. Just make sure it is not material.
Whenever I face difficulties, I always reflect on past successes, which give me the strength to work harder and do better. I also have a strong support system that pushes and motivates me whenever I feel demotivated. It is, therefore, safe to say that I will not struggle with motivation if given this role.
10. What is Your View on Delegation of Duties?
What do you think about delegating duties? When answering this question, you can mention how you go about task delegation or a few takeaways that everyone should have in mind when delegating responsibilities. All in all, the best way to answer this question is to view it from an operational perspective.
I believe that delegation of duties is critical in effective management. When delegating tasks, I usually consider the skillset and ability of every individual. I have realized that if you want people to perform, you have to give them something that they can actually do.
11. What Shows a Well-run University in Your Opinion?
Your knowledge of the hallmarks of a well-run institution will tell whether you understand your role and will make a good vice-chancellor or not. When answering this question, try to think about situations that would make you consider your job a success.
A well-run tertiary institution is one with efficient operations and where everybody gets along well. Lecturers do their part, and students get to graduate on time. A well-run varsity also records a high number of quality graduates who can compete fairly in the job market. (You are not tied to a particular response. You can mention anything that makes a university qualify as well run)
12. How Would You Respond to a Serious Problem Brought to You by a Faculty Member?
How would you solve problems raised by your workmates? Your problem-solving methods should deliver a long-lasting solution. This is an operational question that should be answered using a step-by-step approach.
When a faculty member approaches me with a problem, I will conduct an extensive investigation to have as much information as possible about it. I would then get other faculty members’ input on some possible solutions and their outcomes and then track the results once we settle on one.
13. What Do You Consider the Most Challenging Part of Budgeting?
As a vice-chancellor, you will also play a significant role in coming up with your institution’s budget. You should therefore have extensive experience in planning and budgeting. Mention an aspect that is a challenge to many people.
The most challenging part of budgeting is coming up with correct or near correct estimates. There are a number of unforeseen circumstances that may hike up the real amount that one may not capture in the budget estimate. It is, therefore, possible to exceed the budget estimate by a large margin.
14. Has Your Advice To Management Lead to an Improvement of the University?
The interviewer wants you to mention a time when your advice made the university a better place. This tests just how good you are at identifying areas that need change and driving the change itself. Your recommendation should have been implemented by the varsity.
I once advised my university to turn the abandoned halls into hostels, which saw us increase our admission and help students who could not afford the nearby apartments get accommodation. The vice-chancellor at the time congratulated me on such an excellent idea.
15. Have You Ever Mentored Someone?
The interviewer wants to know whether you have coached someone, be it in life or your career. You can also mention the improvements you saw in the person’s skills or knowledge after your mentorship.
I run a mentorship company where we identify many promising students from different varsities and help them hone their skills. At the moment, we offer mentorship services in leadership, project management, law, and other related fields. We’ve helped create a number of excellent leaders, lawyers, and different professionals thanks to our mentorship programs. ( You can also mention how you have Mentored people on a personal level. Talk about an intern or a student you helped in their career life)
16. What Do You Believe is the Best Way of Motivating Your Faculty Members?
How do you motivate your subordinates? Employee motivation plays a vital role in ensuring effective service delivery and duty execution. Employees who feel value and respected commonly have more zeal and are willing to go the extra mile.
I usually use a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation with my subordinates. Whenever one does something remarkable, I make sure that I acknowledge them in front of everybody else to give them a sense of pride of ownership. I also give lots of compliments and make everybody know that the institution appreciates their services. For extrinsic motivation purposes, I usually throw staff parties where we also get to bond. ( You should know the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation)
17. What is Your Vision For This Institution?
Remember, we said that you need to be a visionary leader to be a good vice-chancellor. You should therefore have a vision to guide you as you go about your duties. Mention something that does not go against the school’s missions, visions, or objectives.
I envision a school where everybody will feel valued and appreciated regardless of race, gender or religion. I also intend to continue bettering our services and delivering quality professionals in the job market and society at large. Lastly, my vision here is to create a university that appreciates the local community and intends to solve their problems. (Visions are personal. You are entitled to yours provided that it aligns with what the university wants to achieve)
18. Do You Think that This Job is Rewarding?
The interviewer wants to know how you feel about the job at hand. Do you think being a vice-chancellor will be rewarding? Will it give you the personal gratification that you need? Well, the best approach here is to show enthusiasm and passion by talking positively about this job.
I believe that this job is gratifying. Running an institution that nurtures students to be valuable members of society is not a duty to be overlooked. I have also always wanted to try my hand at large-scale management, and getting this job will make my dream possible. It is, therefore, safe to say that it is enriching.
19. What Is Your Stance on Bullying?
How do you treat bullying, or how would you remedy bullying? As a vice-chancellor, you will chair the university senate, which deals with issues such as bullying. It is a challenge that has even seen students take their lives. You must have a strong anti-bullying policy and convince the interviewer that you will make the institution a bullying-free zone.
Everybody I have worked with knows just how opposed I am to bullying. I had to spend years in therapy to undo the damage that bullies did to me. I always believe that every student should enjoy their stay at the university and therefore anybody who bullies the other should be expelled if found guilty. I believe that such strong measures discourage others who may be harboring such thoughts.
20. What Will You Do on Your First Day in Office?
We advise you not to take this question lightly. What you do on your first day is more important than what you intend to do on the second or any other day. This is a chance to convince the interviewer that you are competent and will start working right away.
I will spend my first days in office orienting and bringing myself up to speed with everything I should know as a vice-chancellor. I will meet the people I will be interacting with most of the time, including my faculty members. We will also discuss relevant things pertaining to their roles and how I can make their work better.
These are just but a few questions that you should expect in a vice-chancellor interview. Make sure that you are well acquainted with this position to ace the interview. Also, remember to answer operational questions by drawing from your experience and everyday modes of operation.