Landing a Job in Academia: What to Expect During the Interview Process

Compiled by Laura Moyer (UGA PhD 2008)
Resources:  “The New Faculty Member” by Boice; UGA Office of Instructional Support and Development; Dr. Kim Oliver (UGA), UGA RLS Doctoral students, Dr. Jennifer Henson (Ohio University)

  • DETERMINE YOUR PRIORITIES AND NEEDS

    a. Research vs. teaching
    b. Professional paradigms/philosophies
    c. Community (urban vs. rural, location, climate, etc.)
    d. Working environment (size of faculty, mentoring vs. “leave me alone and let me do my job”)
    e. Salary expectations (market value?)

  • LOCATING JOB OPENINGS

    a. Keep your ears low to the ground (e.g., national conference)
    b. Subscribe to professional listervs (e.g., SPRENET)
    c. Frequent professional websites that promote job advertisement
    d. Frequent the Chronicle of Higher Education website (www.chronicle.com.) You can view job postings free (1 week late)
    e. Frequent professional magazines and newsletters
    f. Talk with colleagues and peers

  • APPLYING FOR A JOB

    a. Create a file for each job opening and document where, when, and to whom you sent materials
    b. Print a copy of the job description posted by the institution (note deadlines and needs)
    c. Collect transcripts from all your institutions (official or unofficial?)
    d. Create a list of individuals who might consider writing letters of recommendation
    e. Individuals who can attest to your ability to do research, teaching, and service
    f. Create a cover letter that addresses the needs of the institution (from the job posting) convince the reader why you are a good fit and vice versa
    e. Applications may ask for the following:
    1. Cover letter/letter of application
    2. Transcripts
    3. Research agenda
    4. Teaching philosophy
    5. 3 or 4 letters or recommendation or a listing of references
    6. Teaching portfolio
    7. Video of teaching
    g. Prepare all documents as stated in job posting
    h. Contact individuals writing letters of recommendation at least three weeks of deadline

  • RECEIVING NOTIFICATION

    a. Notification of receipt of  applications (did they receive all requested materials?)
    b. Affirmative Action (AA) information
    c. Relax and wait
    d. A letter most likely is not good news; search committee chair will most likely contact
    e. You by phone to arrange an interview
    f. Things you should ask before arranging the interview:
    1. How long? (1,2,3 days)
    2. What will you have present? (research, teach a class, both)
    3. How much money up-front should you expect to pay?
    4. How long will you have to present/teach?
    5. What type of technology will be available for presentations?

  • PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW

    a. Visit the departmental website to gather the following information:
    1.faculty names and research interests(collaboration?)
    2.classes and descriptions (what can you teach?)
    3. organization, size of program
    b. Prepare your professional portfolio (hard copy/electronic versions?)
    1. provide committee modified portfolio in advance of interview
    c. Prepare your list of questions
    1. search committee
    2. department head
    3. faculty
    4. students (grads/undergrads)
    5. dean
    d. Prepare and practice presentations/lectures
    1. prepare multiple formats (Power Point, www, overheads)
    e. Prepare an informal 1, 3, and 5 minute explanation of the dissertation

  • THE INTERVIEW

    a. Don’t check your presentation, laptop, or other essentials in luggage
    b. Buy a local newspaper and campus student paper to know the present issues
    c. On campus and in the community
    d. Pick up apartment rental and housing advertisements to get a sense as to housing
    e. Options and the local standard of living
    f. Remember, the interview begins  the moment you depart the plane
    e. The interview is always jam-packed and exhausting, so take time for yourself
    g. Make sure you do the following:
    1. Visit the library and request the campus salary survey to know the salary
    2. Ranges in the department
    3. Visit with undergrads and grads (they are brutally honest)
    4. Get to know the library resources
    5. Observe a class to assess (learning environment, quality of students, etc.)
    6. Talk to Assistant Professors about departmental support for promotion and
    7. Tenure
    i.  Don’t pigeon hole yourself into a bad fit, know what the department needs and focus your strengths toward departmental needs
    j. Be yourself
    h.Be complimentary of current/former faculty/mentors
    i. Ask questions of everyone, remember that you are interviewing the institution as well
    j. Keep all your receipts
    k. The schedule often consists of:
    1. Meeting with the search committee
    2. Meeting with individual faculty
    3. Lunch/dinner with faculty and students
    4. Meeting with dean(s)
    5. Meeting with department head
    6. Campus tour
    7. Meeting with realtor to get to know the community

  • QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER DURING THE INTERVIEW

    a.What is the time frame for making a decision?
    b. When was the last time the faculty got together socially? Collegiality?
    c. Explain the funding resources on campus.
    d. What is the stability of the faculty? People leaving? Increasing/decreasing number?
    e. Explain the tenure and promotion process here at ____________.
    f. What type of management style does the department head use? What type of leader is
    g. The department head?
    h. Mentoring resources?
    i. How flexible is the teaching schedule to permit large amounts of free time for writing?
    j. Computer upgrades (cyclical?, will you assume former faculty’s cycle)
    k. Moving expenses?
    l. BE PATIENT!!!!!!

  • NEGOTIATIONS

    a. Negotiate everything:
    1. Competitive salary
    2. Everything you need to start your research agenda (video recorders, audio recorders, transcribers, computer programs)
    3. Teaching load and courses (PUT IT IN WRITING!!!!!!)
    4. Anything needed for teaching (LCD, etc)
    5. Computer (desk and laptop)
    6. Teaching/research assistants (10-20 hours a week)
    7. Summer teaching? Summer salary to do research?
    8. Moving expenses
    9. Travel monies
    b. Don’t say “yes” immediately, but let them know when you expect to make a decision
    c. Provisions for not completing dissertation (even if remote possibility)

  • FINAL THOUGHTS

    a. Be prepared
    b. Don’t let it be personal, you need to be yourself and know that there are many things
    c. Beyond your control that often determine who is hired
    d. Keep all options open
    e. STOP THE MADNESS (realize that you will make no progress on your dissertation during the interview process, so try to “compentalize” the two)
    f. Don’t apply to jobs you know you won’t be happy in but apply to as many you consider worthwhile
    e. Don’t be afraid to stall if you are awaiting another University (1-2 weeks is typically acceptable)
    f. Make sure you will be happy with working at a University.  You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.
    g. Find some time to visit the library on campus and ask to view the Faculty Salary Document. This document will provide you a range of what individuals in your department are paid and give you realistic expectations of what to expect if an offer is made.

  • HELPFUL LINKS

    About.com’s hub for getting a job after graduate school

    Fumbled Interview Questions by Claire B. Potter from Insider Higher Ed Jan 5, 2011 web edition