Preparing for the Interview
“Remember that if you get an interview, that means that you are qualified for the job. Hence, in addition to evaluating your teaching and scholarly potential, a major purpose of the interview is to gauge your fit and collegiality.”
Ralph Carter and James Scott, “Navigating the Academic Job Market Minefield,” PS: Political Science and Politics 3, no. 3 (1998): 619.
A Former Provost’s Advice on Interviewing
Provost Ralph L. Pearson led a workshop for graduate students entitled “Getting Ready for the Interview.” He interviewed candidates from across all disciplines and brought insights from a diversity of university perspectives. What follows is a summary of Provost Pearson’s remarks.
Departments want a fresh infusion of ways to teach and research.
- Be an expert in your field of study.
- Be articulate about who you are as a teacher; be able to explain your choice of teaching methodologies.
- Be engaging in your conversation.
- Be ready to present your own work, and also discuss the work of your potential future colleagues in a collegial way.
- Be sure you engage in two-way conversation; avoid lengthy monologues.
Classroom effectiveness is most important.
- If the school asks for a classroom presentation, in what ways will you come across as an effective teacher?
- Are you open to instructional innovation?
- In what ways do you employ technology to promote learning?
Have a carefully planned research agenda.
- Be specific about your research goals.
- How will you implement your research agenda in your first years?
Display an element of professionalism.
- The norms for dress vary across disciplines and institutional cultures, so ask your mentors for advice.
Do not appear desperate.
- Show that you are interested in the university.
- Convey your passion for your proposed research.
- Display your interest in this institution and position.
Raise appropriate questions.
- If the position is a tenure track position, what are the university guidelines and policies for tenure?
- What are the university’s expectations for the third year review in terms of teaching, research and service?
- If a position is a non-tenure track position, what are the criteria for renewal?
- Could either the department or school recommend a mentor to support you in your faculty development, including teaching, research and service?
- What is the process of the annual review of faculty on the departmental level?
- It's not appropriate to raise questions about salary at this initial face-to-face interview. Generally, you wait for an offer before discussing this.
Select Online Resources
Sample Interview Questions
- The University of Leicester has an extensive list of academic interview questions.
- Mary Corbin Sies offers a list of questions from the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia.
- While most interview questions will focus on issues of teaching, research and service, Mark Wasicsko explores questions that expose a candidate’s attitude in “The Fourth Factor for Hiring” ( The Chronicle of Higher Education).
- Mary Dillon Johnson offers sound advice about preparing for the interview in “The Academic Job Interview Revisited” (Chronicle of Higher Education).