Academic interviewing

Academic interviewing is generally broken out into three types. This does not necessarily mean you will engage in all three in every interview, but being aware of and preparing for all three is valuable. 

Conference/Convention/Meeting Interviews 

Generally these short (1/2 hour) interviews are vetting opportunities for faculty to choose candidates to advance to on campus interviews.  Several faculty usually participate with an emphasis placed on one or more faculty in your discipline/sub discipline. Participating in conference interviews can be tiring for you and faculty so take breaks, bring good energy to each interview, and remember you and they are assessing your fit for their department and institution. Typical questions in the conference interview may include:

  • Tell us about your dissertation
  • What do you want to teach?
  • Where direction do you expect your work to take?
  • Do you have questions for us?

Campus Interviews

If you are invited to participate in a campus interview it is generally assumed you are a top candidate for the position you applied. Campus interviews are generally day long events where you are exposed to and assessed by multiple constituencies on campus. Above all else remember to be yourself and enjoy the experience as much as you can. Although schools are seriously vested in your research agenda, teaching experience, and service they are also assessing if they like you and your fit within their department and institution. When you're engaging in a campus interview don't forget to: 

  • Research the institution, department, and faculty before arriving. Showcasing you have a general sense of the institution and its priorities, the department and its objectives, and the faculty and their research goes far in showcasing your fit. 
  • Be realistic. Most likely you will be evaluated on what you plan to achieve. Use your experience and understanding as a guide, but do not attempt to "oversell" what you plan to do. Departments want you to demonstrate a fair expectation of what you can do. 
  • Engage as many people as you find useful, but definitely make an effort to speak to junior faculty. Most likely these faculty will have more to offer on how new faculty are treated and campus opportunities for younger scholars than senior faculty. 
  • Remember you are being evaluated the whole time. Campus interviewing can be an exhausting experience but you are being evaluated as much in your department interview as you are during meals or talks with students or others. 

Job Talks

The job talk is a critical and often the most stressful component of an on campus interview as you are being simultaneously evaluated as a scholar, colleague, and teacher. The job talk requires you to demonstrate command of your research topic, originality of thought, and ultimately the story of your research and thus you as a scholar. Strong job talks:

  • Demonstrate how you engaged your topic including the methods you employed, the analysis you conducted, and the conclusions you reached. 
  • Speak to an audience with varying degrees of knowledge on your exact topic. Remember not everyone in the room shares your specific expertise so things should be explained in easily understandable ways. 
  • Utilize a clear and organized approach with thoughtful visual or other aids. 
  • Respond to every question, no matter how absurd it may seem, with seriousness demonstrating ability to "think on your feet". 
  • Rely on practice and preparation including watching other job talks, running through the talk, and responding to sample questions. 
  • Stay within the time limits outlined by the department.