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Author Topic: List of phone interview questions - please contribute  (Read 20502 times)
songsofexperience
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« on: December 04, 2009, 12:19:33 pm »

I know, I know. This topic has been discussed over and over again but what I'd like to do (which I do not think has been done before in a systematic fashion) is compile a list of phone interview questions. I will start the list with some I have been asked and which I expect to be asked. Please add to the list if you have others you've been asked. I'd like to compile a list of typical and oddball questions. Mine are aimed at a liberal arts job but feel free to include sciences and social sciences etc. I've also added some questions that might be asked of the committee.

1.   As you know, teaching Intro to XX is one of the requirements. Are you comfortable teaching this class and tell us how you would go about teaching it.
2.   What other classes have you taught/are you capable of teaching and what else would you like to teach for us?
3.   If you could teach any class at all, what would it be?
4.   Tell us about your dissertation. What does it contribute to the field of XYZ?
5.   Will you have your dissertation finished if we were to offer you this position? (obviously if you are ABD)
6.   Have you worked/are you working your dissertation into a book?
7.   Why are you interested in teaching at ZZZ University?
8.   So far you have only taught as smaller liberal arts colleges how would you handle the transition to a larger university, which is part of a state system? (or, the opposite)
9.   How would you handle our diverse student body? Do you have experience working with minority/diverse/first generation/disabled students?
10.   How do you see yourself fitting into a department of Basketweaving and pot-making? (for example, if you are in pot-making but at this particular school pot-making is stuck in with basket-weaving)
11.   How would you handle poorly-prepared/disruptive students?
12.   Describe your best teaching experience. Describe your worst teaching experience and how did you handled it. What did you learn and what would you do differently?
13. What do you have planned in terms of upcoming publications?
14. What is your opinion of (group of radical thinkers in my field)? Do you agree with them?




Questions for the committee

1.   What is your average intro and advanced class size?
2.   What opportunities would I have for working across departments?
3.   How does the department attract new majors and minors and what does it do in order to participate in larger university activities? (film series/talks etc)
4.   How does the department use technology in its teaching? Are any faculty members particularly interested in the use of technology in the classroom.
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lorelei
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« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2009, 12:23:33 pm »

You've covered most of what I have encountered in phone and conference interviews. I have also been asked these two:
  • Would you be comfortable moving to city X? Have you ever been here?
  • How would you develop your research here? [ie given that we have no funds or facilities]
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barred_owl
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« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2009, 1:08:51 pm »

Depending on the school, you might expect to be asked:  How could you involve undergraduates in your research?
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t_r_b
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2009, 3:25:25 pm »

How would you go about teaching a class on X?

X = a specific topic encompassed by your field (broadly defined) but not specifically mentioned in the job ad.

For a teaching-intensive job, and especially for a job that will have to cover a wide range of curricular holes (because of a small department, or whatever), this question helps distinguish those candidates who are broadly familiar with the field from those who are hyperspecialized. For example, if the job listing is for "basketweaving," and the candidate specializes in underwater basketweaving, I might ask how the candidate might teach a course on airborne basketweaving. The answer will probably tell me whether the candidate has done anything above water since entering grad school.

Such a question is especially likely if a department has a particular interest in airborne basketweaving (perhaps because the school has a prominent program in flight studies, or maybe just because an unusually large proportion of the student body happens to be winged). Learning more about the university as a whole, its student population, and the surrounding area will help you identify aspects of your field that could be especially relevant. If so, it's a good idea to mention these aspects (and their relevance to the school's needs, etc.) in the interview whether they ask you about them or not.
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mythbuster
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« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2009, 3:41:29 pm »

Some I recently got (For STEM/Biomed).

1. Describe what you plan to include in your first grant.
2. Describe what kind of project you might give your first grad student.
3. What kind of equipment/space do you need for your research?
4. Why are you interested in a liberal arts college as opposed to a more research oriented institution?
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larryc
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« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2009, 4:26:48 pm »

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

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higherandhigher
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« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2009, 7:20:59 pm »

What is the role of the liberal arts college/public university/research university/regional university/community college in the higher education system?
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songsofexperience
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2009, 7:29:01 pm »

Ooh, higherandhigher, that one is a doozy! I hope you're not on a search committee!

I had my husband (also an academic in my field) ask me the questions I had come up with as we walked our dog. Maybe not the best time to practice. It went something like this:

1.   As you know, teaching Intro to XX is one of the requirements. Are you comfortable teaching this class and tell us how you would go about teaching it. With great skill and expertise
2.   What other classes have you taught/are you capable of teaching and what else would you like to teach for us? Pretty much anything and everything but definitely something fun.

4.   Tell us about your dissertation. What does it contribute to the field of XYZ? I'll let you know when I figure it out.
5.   Will you have your dissertation finished if we were to offer you this position? (obviously if you are ABD) Yes.
6.   Have you worked/are you working your dissertation into a book?Sure. Probably.
7.   Why are you interested in teaching at ZZZ University? You have an opening and there are not many of them. Plus you're only 3 hours from my aging and decrepit parents and although I don't like to see them too often it would be helpful if they popped their clogs.
8.   So far you have only taught as smaller liberal arts colleges how would you handle the transition to a larger university, which is part of a state system? (or, the opposite) By taking it all in stride. I'm talented.
9.   How would you handle our diverse student body? Do you have experience working with minority/diverse/first generation/disabled students? Yes
10.   How do you see yourself fitting into a department of Basketweaving and pot-making? (for example, if you are in pot-making but at this particular school pot-making is stuck in with basket-weaving) I'm like the jelly between 2 slices of bread.
11.   How would you handle poorly-prepared/disruptive students? I shame them and then beat them.

At this point he gave up. I'm thinking I will prepare actual written answers.

As for larryc's question, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Running a search that takes 7 months to complete. Maybe 11. I'm going for the record.
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higherandhigher
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2009, 8:50:43 pm »

Ooh, higherandhigher, that one is a doozy! I hope you're not on a search committee!
Well, that question is meant to just have one of the / options asked. I'm not on a search committee right now, but when I am, I always ask something about why the candidate wants to work at this type of institution and/or what the mission of such an institutional type is.
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jon_margerumleys
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2009, 9:32:40 pm »

If you were pasta, what kind of pasta would you be?

Does this speaker phone make my butt look big?

Our faculty traditionally turn over 15% of their salary to the University Foundation.  Are you willing to join them?

Please sing our fight song.  Include all four verses.

An increasing number of students have nut allergies, causing them to be unable to take courses taught by our senior faculty.  How would you work with these students?

To increase opportunities in our auto body repair program, we'll be painting the stripes in the student parking lot eight inches closer together than they are now.  What innovative ideas do you have for your courses?
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songsofexperience
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2009, 9:50:02 pm »

Great - now I have to go look up the fight song!

Thanks for the laugh jon-margerumleys!
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corny
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2009, 10:49:50 pm »

jon_margerumleys wins.

Nevertheless, here are a few I've gotten (I'm in the humanities):

1. How would you balance teaching, research, and service?

2. If I walked into your classroom, what would I see?

And one that stumped me at the time...
3. Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
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t_r_b
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2009, 11:18:23 pm »

And one that stumped me at the time...
3. Is there anything else you'd like us to know?

If you were stumped, then the correct answer was "no." Can't go wrong there.
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Quote from: prytania3
If you want to be zen, then stay in the freaking moment.
Quote from: fiona
A lot of the people posting on this thread need to go out and get kohlrabi.
dr_prephd
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2009, 11:59:04 pm »

Three phone interviews so far, always the first question: "Why us?"

Others are far less tricky than this one.
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songsofexperience
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« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2009, 12:15:41 am »

Thing is, they d*mn well know why "them.". In my field there were 6 jobs I could apply for and this is one of them. They know that. Of course, I applied not knowing much about the place except that the job ad made it sound like a good fit. I've since done research so now I know I like the department and what it's doing and I like the University etc etc but in the end, it still comes down to the fact that I need a job and they have one available! I can't exactly say that though.

The other thing for me is that my parents actually retired to a place about 3 hours away from this particular institution so that make it attractive (and not) because my folks are old and in an emergency right now its hard to get to them (what with the 2000 miles between us). Can I mention that? I've heard some people say yes and others no in regards to mentioning personal reasons for liking the area. I mean, this location is not one for which anyone would ever say "Oh, I must move there" because it's a little remote. But it is attractive to me because I would be waaaay closer to my parents than I am now.
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