My first year on the job market, I was very close to getting a campus visit at a small (2-person) philosophy department at a good liberal arts school in the midwest. I wasn't invited to campus, and the department chair told me that the reason was that I did not have any experience at a small college: I didn't attend a small college as an undergraduate and, clearly, as a graduate student I was at a large university. It being my first year on the job market, I had no experience teaching at such colleges. I can't remember his exact words, but his point was that working in a small college, as a member of a small department, requires an understanding of the nature of small colleges and since I didn't have that, I wasn't going to be invited to campus.
At the time, I thought this the height of injustice, but now, having worked at a small college for 10 years, I can see that he was right. The demands of working at a small college require a certain set of skills, and, unless a job candidate has small college experience, it can be difficult to tell if he or she has those skills.
All of this leads me to ask what steps, if any, are graduate departments taking to prepare their students for jobs at small colleges? What suggestions do faculty who teach at small colleges have for our colleagues in Ph.D. programs? What would you like to see in potential job candidates? What do job candidates think about their preparation for jobs at small colleges? Do you feel well-prepared for such jobs? What could be done to make you more prepared?
I can offer one suggestions--perhaps readers will have others. For the last few years I have been helping out the big university down the road from mine by mock interviewing their students as they enter the job market. Very few, if any, of the faculty there have experience at a small college, so while they conduct mock interviews from the perspective of a research university, they are unable to accurately simulate what an interview with a college like mine would be like. So I come in and mock interview the students. This has been, from the reports of both faculty and students, incredibly helpful. Are others doing anything like this?