• March 29, 2017
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Author Topic: "Tell me about yourself"  (Read 6210 times)
Yet another zoologically confusing
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 8,116

« Reply #30 on: January 10, 2017, 6:32:39 pm »

Sorry, tuxedo cat, we don't want to talk about the dossier, we want to get to know you as a potential colleague. The dossier gets you the interview and can be referred to when discussing your interview after we have interviewed you.

All over these boards we see people talking about 'fit'. One way to determine fit is in the interview.

Really? How in the world do you make a decision about who is truly prepared to teach the courses in your major?  About who is developing research and ideas that are mature enough to make it through the peer-review process?  And sure, I'm as interested as anybody else in questions of fit and collegiality.   But it's not the first question of the interview when we are sorting through 10-12 candidates.  And that question is a lousy way of getting to meaningful information about whether a candidate is going to be a compatible member of our department, especially because it is likely to elicit very different responses from candidates in ways that will not necessarily tell me who will be a better colleague.
That might be the difference. We are not sorting through 10 or 12 candidates. This is at the interview stage. We only are allowed to bring in 3 candidates. We might have done phone interviews with maybe seven candidates, but we don't ask the question of them. We are spending good money and time for the campus visit interviews. The three candidates we brought in are all qualified for the job according to members of the department and members of the search committee. What distinguishes one of those three from the others is often more about fit and personality than what is in the dossier.

Ah, well then, that definitely helps to clarify things.  The traditional MLA model has been (1) review gazillion, application materials then (2) at least 10 in-person interviews at MLA then (3) campus visits for top 3 candidates.  And at the campus visit stage, there is just plenty of more casual conversation throughout the visit -- maybe another sit-down interview with other faculty but not usually.

Translating the Cheeto is a precarious undertaking. 
Distinguished Senior Member
Posts: 4,835

« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2017, 6:08:05 pm »

I don't have problems with a soft-ball question at the beginning of an interview.  I've read the material, but am interested in how the pieces make up a mosaic in your mind.  There aren't right answers to this question, but there are plenty of wrong ones.  If you talk and talk and talk and don't allow for any other questions, that gives me a sense of how well you read non-verbal responses, because I undoubtedly will start to send signals that you should wrap it up after the first 3-5 minutes.  If you answer focusing on your research, and not teaching, or on your teaching, and not research, that will give me some sense of where your passion is.  Since many interviews start this way and you seem totally unprepared, that tells me something as well. 

Many places on the fora advocates that you do practice interviews.  This should be one of the questions in that interview, and you should have a solid answer that makes you seem engaged, interesting,  and real.
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