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What can you expect to be asked during an academic job interview?

The academic job interview can be considered by some graduate degree holders to be a scary situation. What's so scary about it? Nothing - except that it can potentially last one to two days, will likely require at least one formal presentation, includes interviews with a large number of campus representatives such as search committees, Associate Deans, Deans and Faculty members. So how can you prepare for the academic job interview for a faculty position at a college or university? One thing that will certainly help is to understand the questions that you're likely to encounter and be prepared to answer them. So, what questions can you expect during an academic job interview? Read on….

  • Describe your research. What are you currently working on? What do you hope to be working on in five years?
  • What are your plans for publishing?
  • How do you plan to support your research?
  • How will you seek funding to support your research?
  • In what journals and publications do you plan to submit your research?
  • Tell me about your teaching philosophy?
  • Describe how you would teach an introductory course in your discipline (or an advanced seminar)?
  • What courses are you most interested in teaching?
  • What course, not currently in our calendar, would you like to develop?
  • How does your research inform your teaching?
  • What are your plans for integrating students into your research?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What textbook would you use in a particular course?
  • What classes have you taught?
  • How do you structure your courses?
  • What can you ask during an academic job interview?
  • How is the university organized? What are the major units and administrators of the school and what are their responsibilities? What does the organizational flow chart look like? (Note that you should do your homework beforehand and be somewhat familiar with the university; ask additional questions to clarify your understanding.)
  • How are departmental decisions made?
  • How often are departmental meetings held? Are decisions made in departmental meetings? Who is eligible to vote on departmental decisions (e.g., all faculty or only tenured faculty)?
  • May I have a copy of the departmental annual report?
  • What's the relative importance of teaching, research and service for promotion and tenure?
  • What is the average time that faculty spend in each academic rank? How long is it before assistant professors are reviewed for promotion and tenure?
  • What is the nature of the tenure review process?
  • About what percent of faculty receive tenure?
  • What type of retirement program is there? What percentage of the salary goes to retirement? What does the school contribute?
  • What type of health program exists? What are the costs and benefits?
  • How many undergraduate and graduate students are presently in the department? How are their numbers changing?
  • Tell me about your student population.
  • Where do the undergraduate students go after graduation?
  • What kinds of technology are available in the classroom?
  • How well does the library meet departmental needs? Are the reserves adequate?
  • What courses are you looking to fill?
  • How does the department and university support the improvement of teaching?
  • What are the department's research strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the department's plans for growth and hiring?
  • What resources for research are available within the department (e.g., computer facilities, equipment)
  • Is there a research office on campus to help faculty write grants?
  • How important is research in determining tenure and promotion?
  • Is outside grant support essential for promotion and tenure?
  • How are graduate students supported?
  • How do graduate students select research advisors?
  • What kinds of financial support are available for research and supplies?
  • Is this a new position? If not, why did the faculty member leave?
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