Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I wrote earlier this week about the proposal. As one professor told me, the proposal is the most important part of your application packet (tied with you recommendation letters - but you have very little control over what other people say about you at this point so don't worry about what you can't control). That is, until your get the interview. Then the interview becomes the most important part. So, today I'm going to write about the interviewing process.

There are lots of posts about interviewing - but most talk about it from the interviewer's perspective. This is an important perspective, but there are several points which get overlooked.

Just to be clear, I'm discussing interviewing for faculty positions at the assistant professor level.

These interviews (at least from my experience) lasted anywhere from 1 day (morning to night) to 4 days. Consisted of 1 formal seminar talk to 2 talks and one informal discussion. I heard of schools also requesting a class to be taught - but I was never asked to. The interview typically starts with breakfast and ends with dinner, each day. So keeping this in mind:

1) Never have more than one interview in a week. They are exhausting. You are being interviewed from 7am (breakfast) until 9pm (end of dinner) each day. Usually for multiple days - most were 2.5 days. Trying to squeeze in two interviews in one week was just a bad idea, especially when flying gets involved - even if one is 2 days and one is 1 day.

2) Buy 2 suits. You are being interviewed. It doesn't matter if everyone else in the department is wearing jeans. You should be in a suit.

3) Treat everyone equally - secretaries, professors, head of departments. At the end of the day, everyone will be asked their opinion of you. The department is hiring a colleague and they want someone who everyone (including staff) will get along with.

4) Ask for a schedule before you arrive and look over the different research areas. The worst thing you can do is walk into a meeting with a professor and say "so, what do you do". At the very least, know the general area of research of everyone you are scheduled to meet with.

5) Don't over-indulge at dinner. One glass of wine/beer is fine. One bottle is not. And being hungover the next day is not good either.

6) Make sure your hotel room is not next to the elevator/ice machine/etc.

7) Ask to meet with assistant professors as well as tenured professors. The tenured professors can give a broad scope of the department and the direction it is heading whereas the assistant professors can let you know about what type of support system is in place for asst. professors. Both are important.

There are a lot of other pointers too, but these are the main ones.

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