Academic job interview tips

Posted By Kalpesh Banker On Saturday, February 12th, 2011 With 0 Comments

An academic teaching job interview differs from other interview types in that you are often expected to conduct a lecture or research presentation as part of the hiring process.

This is to show the hiring committee how you would be a valuable asset to the university as a teacher. Preparing for an academic job interview requires research and practice to ensure you are ready to demonstrate your expertise and to answer any questions the hiring committee may have about you and your experience.

Academic jobs typically involve planning curricula, developing course materials and teaching. These jobs may also require you to conduct research in a particular field and publish in professional journals. So, be prepared to answer both open-ended and closed questions about your expertise.

Before the Interview:

Depending on the level of the job, you may be asked to participate in several rounds, conducted by different members of an interviewing panel. Visit institution website and job description to understand the institution and qualifications required for the position. Don’t miss to bring along your resume and related documents filed in a portfolio. This may include sample of published research paper as well as course materials such as syllabi and sample handouts you have developed.

Ask during your initial phone call how long the interview will last and whether you will be expected to make a research presentation or give a lecture during the interview.

Research the department for which you are interviewing. Learn about the people in the department, especially the Director and the hiring committee. Familiarize yourself with their areas of expertise, existing research and publication history. If you know anyone who has worked with the same institution earlier, talk to them and try to understand institute work culture and actual state of affairs.

Be prepared to comprehensively answer questions like “Describe your strategies for delivering interactive lectures that motivate students,” “What process do you follow to supervise student project work?” or “Explain how you have administered examinations” that reveal details about your past academic experiences and capability to perform.

Practice your presentation in front of an audience until you know it well. This will also give you a general idea of how long the presentation will take. Trim the presentation as necessary to fit the anticipated interview time.

During the Interview:

Dress appropriately (for male : A suit & for women: Suit / saree) for the interview and arrive at least 15 minutes early. Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and use a conversational, yet professional, tone of voice. Speak slowly and clearly (but enthusiastically) to describe how your experience, skills and personal attributes would be of value to the institution.

Show your passion when asked about your research or work performed in your field. These questions regarding your personal work and the general work presented by others can be the most difficult, but it helps if you are prepared to say, with feeling, how you truly feel about your body of work. Give them examples of what grabs you and what you plan to accomplish by furthering your research.

Allot time to answer questions after your presentation so you can engage the committee members in discussion, rather than just lecture. Be ready to answer questions about your recent and current research projects, your teaching philosophy, the facilities you would need to conduct research, and how you would involve your students in the research process.

When invited to ask questions, probe for details regarding the job such as the lecture load, number of people in the department and average number of students per class. Ask a thoughtful question last, to leave an intelligent impression. Postpone asking questions about salary and benefits until an offer is extended. Avoid saying anything negative about peers, past or present.

Keep your answers short but to the point. Going on about your experience is not as effective as quickly and succinctly summarizing your history. Practice answers to these types of questions to prevent rambling.

Thank the interviewer at the conclusion of the interview.

After the Interview:

Promptly send a thank you note to each interviewer, responding to any questions (that you agreed to follow up on) which may have been posed during the interview. Address each person by her name and title and refer to anything in the conversation that will serve to highlight your skills and experience to positively influence the hiring the decision.