I’ve interviewed at a number of positions and now having talked this through about what it is like to interview with my GA, I realize I need to put my thoughts down on paper. When you are applying to an academic position (in my case faculty positions that involve teaching and research) your first contact with the school will likely be to schedule a phone interview.
The phone interview will be comprised of the search committee or at least parts of it. Figure they are recording what you are saying just so they can go over your answers after you finish. Before this interview, sit down with a pen and paper along with look through the school’s online course catalog, take a look at the job posting, and just do your due diligence of looking through the department website for more information about what they are doing and who works there.
When you get on the call they are going to typically ask you:
Why are you interested in our position?
What classes can you teach in our department?
What research are you looking to do? What equipment will you need?
What is your teaching philosophy?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
What would your students, fellow faculty, and/or department chair say about you (they will check your references and potentially call people in your department be aware of this)?
Then they will open up for your questions. Good questions here tend to impress a committee, so based on what you have found online, now is the time ask questions about it. Sometimes they can tell you about pay and start ups (money for research equipment), but frequently this is a conversation to be had on the next phase of the interview with the dean or department chair.
Figure for the phone interview they are going to interview 10 or less candidates, so making it to this stage should make you happy. The next stage is the on campus interview which is an endurance test. Typically the top three or less candidates make it to this stage. The on campus interview is a weird and long horse and pony show. It typically goes as follows: travel to the campus by some combination of plane flights and driving. Have dinner the night before with parts of the committee and then get dropped off at a hotel. Get up and have breakfast with the committee or parts of it. Go to campus and in no particular order; get a campus tour, meet the dean, meet the department chair, interview with the committee, tour their department facilities, give a teaching presentation, give a research presentation, meet with other support personal like the grant office and the teaching development offices on campus, maybe meet with a librarian and potentially meet with the provost. Also you have the chance of meeting with assistant deans and provosts. Typically this day lasts for 8 hours or more and you will get lunch at some point. You will also maybe get a break, but potentially the break will always be with someone from the department walking around with you. Each meal will be with people from the department or the committee.
The best advice I can give anyone for going through this is simply to be yourself, but be your best self. If you try to act like someone you aren’t you are doing yourself a disservice. First, you are setting a precedent for you to have to act in a different way than you normally do for your entire career. Second, if at some point the real you starts to come out that is going to leave a strange impression with your committee. When they go to compare notes they will have different impressions about who you are. Try to be direct and succinct when you are asked questions, and take notes so you can ask them other questions. If you have other questions about this, please let me know and as always thanks for reading.