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Don't Be Overwhelmed!

"Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well." — Angelique Arnauld

With the quote cut off

Yes, there is a lot of information here.  No, we do not expect you to have each word on this webpage memorized.  We just want you to be prepared so that you give a good, productive interview.  We aren’t expecting perfection, but we do want to see ample evidence to suggest that you are a humble, hard-working, quick-learning teammate with the potential to improve.

How does the interview process work?

Interviews take place at the Main Writing Lab.  The Writing Lab Director will e-mail you the time and date of your interview.  Please arrive at least 15 minutes early. If you have any questions or need further information, please contact the Writing Lab Director or the Main Writing Lab. There are four components to this interview. The entire interview will take approximately four hours.  Please click on each of the four components below to learn more.

This component consists of an interactive discussion with the Writing Lab Director and some experienced Writing Lab assistants in which we discuss with you the Writing Lab’s services, your labbie skills and personality, and your “fit” in a professional setting versus a classroom setting.

This component is a A 30-minute to one-hour grammar presentation by the applicant on one of the assigned Skills of the Week; your assigned skill will be one of the areas checked on your Diagnostic Test feedback form. The purpose of this Grammar Skill-of-the-Week presentation is to determine your readiness for planning and presenting grammar lessons for 5 to 18 students as part of the Writing Lab’s Tutoring System.  Feel free to create any kind of audio-visual, including a PowerPoint or Prezi. It’s all right for you to use one of the PowerPoints the Writing Lab has already created; in fact, we prefer that you use one of our PowerPoints to ensure that the grammatical information is accurate, credible, and reliable.

You may also use any other information from our webpage or any information we have in the Writing Lab.  Be familiar with your assigned skill so that you can give an impressive presentation. Here are some tips for a strong presentation:

  1. Plan a 30-minute to one-hour presentation (depending on the time you are allotted) on the grammar skill you are assigned.  Use an audio-visual aid (the whiteboard, a Writing Lab PowerPoint, flash cards, etc. – your choice);
  2. Begin with an engaging introduction (ice-breaker or opener) related to your skill.  The Lab has a binder with creative beginnings for grammar lessons.  Feel free to stop by the Lab and look through the examples in the binder;
  3. Teach the skill. Go beyond reading the text on the PowerPoint slides. Be explanatory. Teach. Simplify. Amplify. Interact;
  4. Use terminology that is both accessible and accurate;
  5. Time yourself to ensure that you cover the skill in the time allotted;
  6. Be prepared to answer questions from the audience;
  7. Read rules/concepts from Real Good Grammar, Too and at least one other reputable grammar handbook;
  8. Use one of the PowerPoint presentations from the Writing Lab’s website: Feel free to use our PowerPoint as is, or create your own PowerPoint using ours as a foundation for your own creation. In fact, the Lab prefers that you teach using one of its PowerPoints rather than risking creating one yourself that might contain rules from unreliable websites;
  9. Be animated and dynamic when presenting;
  10. Go over your presentation or the skill with a friend, and try to anticipate questions and responses;
  11. Don’t create or contrive rules, terminology, or explanations.

AUDIENCE: Experienced Writing Lab assistants and the Writing Lab Director role-play as students.

EQUIPMENT: The Tutoring/Training Room has an LCD projector, a desktop computer with Internet access, a document camera, a presentation remote, and two large dry-erase boards with markers and erasers.

The purpose of this simulated reading is to assess your interpersonal communication skills and professionalism in a one-on-one paper reading setting in which the writer is present. During the paper reading session, you will play the role of paper reader in an interactive paper reading with the Writing Lab Director as the student and an experienced paper reader from the Writing Lab staff as an observer. During the one-hour session, you should read the mock paper (provided by the Writing Lab) for manuscript form, content, the conventions of writing (grammar, punctuation, sentence construction, spelling, capitalization, and word choice), and documentation style. As a mock reader, remember you are not an editor who is reading a paper in the absence of the writer.  The student writer is present, and the session is supposed to be interactive. Involve the student in the process by making suggested changes and entering these changes on the paper.

Here are some tips for paper reading:

  1. Before the interview, please review MLA Requirements for Manuscript Format: margins, text formatting, heading and title, pagination, Works Cited page, etc.;
  2. Greet the student and explain what you will attempt to do in the session;
  3. Ask the student to explain what he or she wrote about;
  4. Ask the student whether he or she made an appointment for a Final Draft Reading, a Grammar Check Reading, or something else;
  5. Ask the student for a copy of the assignment;
  6. Sign and date the top of the paper;
  7. Be sure to sit so that the paper is visible to both of you during the reading;
  8. Check the manuscript format first: heading, margins, spacing, pagination, etc.;
  9. Check the title of the paper for punctuation, spacing, and wording;
  10. Read the paper aloud to the student;
  11. Watch the clock to ensure that you end the reading 10 to 15 minutes before the top of the next hour;
  12. Make all recommended changes on the page;
  13. Ask the experienced paper reader who is observing the session for assistance if you need it;
  14. Make the reading a teachable moment by involving the student in the revisions rather than providing words or “fixing” all the errors for him or her -- say to the student, “How would you revise this sentence?” or “Tell me what you are trying to say.” As the student verbalizes his or her revision, write it on the paper;
  15. Be instructive and explanatory: Say to the student, for instance, “Let’s change this comma to a semicolon since the punctuation is separating two sentences,” or say, “This comma is incorrect for the same reason the comma in the previous entence was incorrect; what punctuation should we instead?”;
  16. Question the student when he or she has written something you don’t understand;
  17. Involve the student in the revision process by writing down his or her proposed rewording;
  18. Limit yourself to only three major revisions that you provide to avoid writing the paper for the student;
  19. Resist the tendency to rewrite the student’s paper; don’t rob the student of his or her “voice,” and try not to make subjective changes to the student’s content;
  20. Make all changes on the paper so the student can see it again later;
  21. Avoid writing “revise”: if a sentence needs revising, help the student to revise it;
  22. Make actual changes: insert and delete punctuation, etc.;
  23. Avoid correction symbols such as RO, CS, and S-V Agr.  Instead “fix” the run-ons and comma splices.  Change the verb so that the subject and verb agree;
  24. Watch for reader alerts such as whoever and whomever, semicolons, apostrophes, etc. Question words and usage that are typically problematic;
  25. Write legibly in a color other than black;
  26. Use resources: the research labbie, other paper readers on duty, the desktop dictionary and/or thesaurus, the documentation style books, reputable online services, spell check, grammar books, the mini-lesson PowerPoints, etc.;
  27. If a student has a recurring problem with comma omissions after introductory elements, for instance, review the mini-lesson on the desktop;
  28. Avoid subjective appraisals and judgmental statements as “This is a great paper and deserves an A.”  Restrict your comments to compliments at the sentence and word levels:  “A very judicious word choice” or “Nice use of the colon,” etc;
  29. A global view of the paper should reveal your involvement in the reading;
  30. Your goal is not to hurry and read the entire paper during the session but to offer the student as much feedback and assistance as you can during the allotted time, even if you finish reading only half of the paper.

AUDIENCE: Either the Writing Lab director, a lab manager, or a lab assistant will act as a mock student, and the remaining interviewers will observe.

MATERIALS: We will provide the sample papers and the writing utensils.

In order for the Writing Lab staff to assess your written communication skills, you will provide the staff with a writing sample, one that you will compose in the Writing Lab. You will be given 60 minutes (one hour) to type, proofread, and edit an essay. Lab staff will use your essay to assess your writing skills and determine your eligibility to be a paper reader.

You are not expected to write a perfect essay. Write an essay that demonstrates your understanding of the principles of composition.