Category Archives: Interviewing


Talking the Good Talk

You did it! You made the first (or even second!) cut of applicants for that faculty job, and you’ve been invited by the chair of the search committee to come to campus.

“We’d like you to meet with the department faculty, some students, and the chair and dean. We’d also like you to give a talk about your area of research,” she says.

Ah, the job talk. I’ve seen many of them. Some have been cringe-worthy; others have been so impressive it’s been hard to resist cheering loudly at the end. We all k…


‘An Iced Tea Would Be Terrific’

“First he ordered a pre-meal vodka tonic. Then an appetizer. Then a salad. Then the $36 osso bucco. Then crème brûlée. Then, I kid you not, a glass of port.” So went the download of a dinner with a senior finalist who killed his chances at dinner. The problem? He thought he was on vacation instead of on display.

Navigating the eating part of any interview process can be more complex than the job talk. What if I splash tomato sauce on my shirt? Wine or no wine? How can I chew and answer questions…


A Courtesy to Whom?

You were delighted when you got the call inviting you to meet with the search committee, and today is the day. In just a few minutes you will have 30 minutes (“The schedule for initial interviews is tight,” it was explained) to tell your story. You review key talking points, brush your teeth, and make your way to the meeting room.

As you enter, the search-committee members greet you with tremendous enthusiasm. “It is so great to see you.” “Thank you so much for joining us today.” “We’ve been loo…


What’s Taking Them So Long?

Like many midcareer academics, I’ve been an applicant in several job searches and served on several search committees. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve noticed that my answer to the question “How much information should search committees share with applicants over the course of the search process?” varies, depending on which side of the table I happen to be on.

When I’m the applicant, I want to know as quickly as possible when the search has progressed to its next stage. Has the committee selected…


Perfecting Your Pitch

Some academics are contemptuous about the idea of “selling themselves,” saying that their work should speak for itself and that quality will always be recognized. Perhaps it’s the behavioral scientist in me, but I’m convinced that developing the ability to “sell” or “pitch” a “product” is vital to success in the higher-education world.

Academe is characterized by constant competitions, whether for a coveted full-time faculty position, a long-term grant award, a book contract, or a publication i…


The Problem With Teaching Demos

Lately, I’ve been struggling with the concept of teaching demonstrations and their role in campus interviews. I believe that we need to have some sort of live, real-time demonstration of candidates’ teaching, but I am not convinced that we have found the best model.

Let’s start with context. The campus interview is a highly fraught and nerve-racking experience for candidates, particularly those without a great deal of professional experience. That fact alone throws a wrench into the conduct of a…


Surprise, You’re Teaching in the Morning

When the itinerary for a campus visit arrives in your inbox, it can be tempting (at least for a “planner” like myself) to study that document like scripture. By the time of my first visit last month, I had researched the various interviewers and practiced my sequence of presentations until I had the whole schedule memorized to the minute. I even planned the breaks, what I would review and rehearse in those little pockets of downtime throughout the day.

Of course, reality is never as cleanly orga…


The Advice Not Taken

These last few months I have been stockpiling advice like a survivalist. Now, with my first on-campus visit set for this week, the day of reckoning has finally come and I’m reviewing my stores. I have collected pointers from former professors, the recent hires at my current institution, even a particularly generous dean from my undergraduate days. The advice has been as various as its sources, with one exception. Almost everyone concludes their counsel with the same imperatives: be yourself and …


Do You Have Any Questions for Us?

Like a lot of job seekers this month, I am spending much of my time now preparing for interviews. This means not only anticipating possible questions about my teaching and scholarship, but also thoroughly scrutinizing the universities and their search committees. I want to be able to reference specific ways in which the current faculty’s research intersects with my own work and to articulate precisely how I might add something to the particular department/program.

This kind of preparation is rel…


When You’ve Got Something to Hide

You drank too much one night in college and have a felony conviction to show for it. While going through a nasty divorce, you focused more on keeping your wife than on keeping your job. A new dean came on board and decided that you weren’t a good match for her vision of the future.

Question: Which of these should be revealed during your next employment interview?

Answer: None of them, but if the subject comes up, be prepared with an articulate response.

There are a lot of talented people who…