Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Ace the Second and the First Interview for an Academic Faculty Position

Now is the heavy interview season for faculty jobs and many candidates, who are soon-to-be PhDs, or may already have them in hand, are traveling near and far for their on-campus interviews.

Typically, the first-round interview takes place at a conference or it may be in the form of a phone or a Skype interview. Make sure you look professional for the latter and always be very well-prepared. Do your homework about who will be interviewing you and the school, college, or university.

The second interview is, typically, an on-campus interview and for such interviews one needs to keep up a high energy level and a high enthusiasm level. The day(s) may be long, beginning with a breakfast meeting, numerous meetings with faculty, staff and administrators (sometimes even with Associate Deans or Deans and a Provost) as well as with students. You may even get a tour of the campus and a real estate tour.

The day will include a lunch and often-times a dinner plus a research presentation and perhaps even a teaching presentation, which may take place on the same day.

If you have made it to an on-campus interview, congratulations -- someone is clearly interested in you.

Yes, academics, and even faculty-in-training, need a lot of stamina and the on-campus interview is a venue where you will be checked out by all those who meet you and interact with you as a potential life-long colleague, should you get (and accept) an offer from the institution (and, ultimately, also get tenure).

This is a time to ask appropriate questions and to treat everyone that you meet with respect and courtesy.

This is also a wonderful opportunity for the candidate who is being interviewed to observe and to ask questions.

You will be asked questions about your research (especially your dissertation and most likely future research), plus your teaching style and interests. In today's job market, it is almost essential to have some teaching experience, ideally not just as a teaching assistant, but, especially if you are looking for a faculty position in a business school, as an instructor of a course for which you have had full responsibility (2 courses are even better assuming that your student teaching evaluations were solid -- hopefully, they were stellar).

It also helps to have a documented record of scholarly journal article submissions (and at least 1 or 2 acceptances).

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice article on what you can expect from a campus (second) interview that builds on its successful earlier article on first-round interviews. It also has advice for those who are getting PhDs and are not looking at academic faculty positions.

Finding the right college or university for you to start your professional academic career is like finding a mate and marching down the aisle to get married. It takes time and patience (and some courtship type of rituals) but when the match is good everyone benefits -- from the institution to the students and the new faculty member and colleagues.

Good luck and enjoy the journey!