Tenure track job interviews

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fallen625

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I will be doing tenure-track job interviews for the first time this Fall. I am obviously very nervous about this, so I wanted to ask if anyone had any advice on what to expect in terms of what questions I should be prepared to answer as well as what questions I should be asking to help me determine whether the school is a good fit for me. Thanks!

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I will be doing tenure-track job interviews for the first time this Fall. I am obviously very nervous about this, so I wanted to ask if anyone had any advice on what to expect in terms of what questions I should be prepared to answer as well as what questions I should be asking to help me determine whether the school is a good fit for me. Thanks!

I have not been in your shoes, but I can suggest a resource. Karen Kelsky PhD is a onetime R1 tenured prof who now offers coaching/consulting services to tenure-track academics. She shares a wealth of free info on her site: The Professor Is In. Hope this helps!

 
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What type of jobs? Teaching focused or research focused? You will be asked about both but more so one way than the other depending on the type of position.

Be the lookout for faculty discord or institutional barriers. Those things are hard to pick out during an interview since everyone is on their best behavior.
 
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I will be doing tenure-track job interviews for the first time this Fall. I am obviously very nervous about this, so I wanted to ask if anyone had any advice on what to expect in terms of what questions I should be prepared to answer as well as what questions I should be asking to help me determine whether the school is a good fit for me. Thanks!
It depends a lot on the position type that you are interested in as Dynamic said.

Also, and I can't stress this enough regardless of the type of job, watch for interpersonal dynamics and unspoken rules/expectations. Lots of the interview is a read between the lines situation because everyone is on their best behavior so they may be very intentional about responding in a certain way. What is not said should be listened to as loudly as what is as these may reflect the broader institutional culture that DD mentioned. I recommend taking lots of notes on this to discuss with your adviser.

And be yourself. This is a long term choice so I would encourage you to feel out if it is the sort of place you would like to consider making a permanent home. Your happiness matters. This is always worth repeating during this process.
 
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Prepare for how you will respond to questions that are illegal to ask in job interviews. I got asked if I was in a relationship and some other things that I wish I'd known to be ready for, and have a better non-answer for.** Prep for how you will react to questions like what you plan on doing with your uterus (if you have one or look like you have one) for the next few years, etc.

How easy or hard it is to recruit the grad students you want to get.
The value the college and university see in the department and how the department leadership is actively seeking to enhance that.
Grant resources (as in, the existence and usefulness of pre and post award staff).
Expectations for tenure.
Service protection for new faculty.
What is covered in start up funds.
What courses are need areas for the department for teaching.
Cost of living, how close faculty are able to live to the university, etc.
Any questions pertaining to how you'd do your research there (which is up to you in terms of the populations and presenting issues you research).


**Not where I work now. That was a great interview experience. Just clarifying bc I'm not anonymous. :)
 
It depends a lot on the position type that you are interested in as Dynamic said.

Also, and I can't stress this enough regardless of the type of job, watch for interpersonal dynamics and unspoken rules/expectations. Lots of the interview is a read between the lines situation because everyone is on their best behavior so they may be very intentional about responding in a certain way. What is not said should be listened to as loudly as what is as these may reflect the broader institutional culture that DD mentioned. I recommend taking lots of notes on this to discuss with your adviser.

And be yourself. This is a long term choice so I would encourage you to feel out if it is the sort of place you would like to consider making a permanent home. Your happiness matters. This is always worth repeating during this process.

Thanks! I applied to mostly research focused schools ( have 1 interview at an R1 school so far) but also a few more teaching focused. What should I expect in regards to what I will be asked?
 
Research-focused schools will primarily be interested in your program of research. Do you know what you plan to do next? Are your plans realistic given the resources/location of their institution? Will your plans lead to grants and publications? Is your intended research program sufficiently different from that of your mentor's research program? Make sure you have thought through these kinds of questions and are answering them all the time during the interview day...that is, you should talk about your research plans when asked about them directly, but also be sure to convey the message that you have clear, fund-able, publishable research plans whenever you have the opportunity. You also should be prepared for questions like, "what could you teach for us?" and "what resources do you need for your research?" Have answers to those questions. Have an answer to the question, "what is the first grant you plan to apply for?" and "what is the first publication you plan to produce when you start your tt job?" (and offer that information even if you aren't asked for it explicitly). I did 7 or 8 phone interviews and 5 campus interviews while I was on the market and I don't think anyone ever asked me about service, but you should have something to say in case someone does. For all of these questions, do your research and make sure your answer is a good fit for the institution (don't talk about desire to teach small, intimate seminars if you're interviewing at a school where most classes are large lectures; don't talk about your plan to integrate fmri into your research at an institution that doesn't have fmri equipment; etc.).

A couple of times, people asked me really specific questions about my previous publications (e.g., "why did you make X choice in your HLM models instead of Y choice?"). Review your pubs so that you are ready to answer questions like that, and also practice what you will say if you don't have an answer (which happened to me a couple of times).

As others have said, don't forget to pay attention to the culture of the school and to really think about whether you would expect to be happy there. You probably really want a tt job, but trust me that you don't want one at an institution that is a poor fit for you.

Also, faculty interviews are exhausting. Make time for exercise and eating right this fall so you're in good shape going in....you will likely need to be on your game starting at breakfast and continuing through dinner for one or two days for each interview. It's a lot.
 
Agree with what others have shared and I'll add some thoughts about what to expect from the more teaching-focused institutions.

They will likely want to know how you think about pedagogy. How do you plan for courses? How do you assess student learning? How do you know if students are struggling? What do you do when students are struggling? What are your thoughts about homework, late work, attendance? What kinds of assignments do you give? What kinds of readings do you assign? How do you choose those readings? How do you use technology in the classroom? How do you support student writing & critical thinking? How do you present a diversity of perspectives in your teaching? What do you do if students are "off task" during class? How does your research inform your teaching? How do you involve students in your research?

Obviously the phase of the interview (phone screen vs. campus finalist) will dictate how many questions are asked and what depth the committee expects of your answers.

Also, faculty interviews are exhausting. Make time for exercise and eating right this fall so you're in good shape going in....you will likely need to be on your game starting at breakfast and continuing through dinner for one or two days for each interview. It's a lot.

This is also super important and might take folks by surprise during campus interviews. Invest in comfortable, breathable shoes. Carry mints, ibuprofen, and antacids. Don't hesitate to ask for an extra cup of coffee/tea/water and take an extra moment or three when you're alone in the restroom or on a "break" to just breathe and gather your thoughts, straighten your collar, and check for food in your teeth. I've also been asked on day 2 of campus interviews to reflect back on day 1 and share my thoughts about my performance (in the teaching demo, research talk, individual interviews). I was even asked one time something like, "Of all your conversations, who did you connect with least yesterday?"

Good luck, exciting times ahead!
 
Thanks! I applied to mostly research focused schools ( have 1 interview at an R1 school so far) but also a few more teaching focused. What should I expect in regards to what I will be asked?
From an R1 perspective, its all about research plan and knowing (1) where you are going, (2) how to get there, and (3) demonstrating the focus/specificity/Independence from your mentor necessary for both of these elements at an R1. I wouldn't spend time reviewing my previous papers expecting a quiz for them or at least I wouldn't for stuff outside of my area of focus that you may be on as a side project. It sounds like PhDPlz had some interesting experiences there that differed but I haven't seen that look bad to punt on. I really dislike the 'gotcha' approach to interviewing since you can never really prepare for all the potential ways they can 'get you'. Plus, interviews such compared to more formalized outcome data. Otherwise, I agree that being able to tell a search committee/chair/faculty group (i) what classes you can teach, (ii) what your grant plan is, (iii) what your research line is and how you expect to approach it in 3 and 5 year goals, and (iv) what resources you need. For the resources question, be very specific. Saying "computers" isn't enough. How many? Laptops/Desktops? What sort of space? Any specific needs for the lab (e.g., soundproof, mock bar, special research hardware, MRI, etc)? Being able to answer this specifically demonstrates that you have a focused understanding of your research agenda and how you can be successful in doing it because you have thought about the research questions you plan to ask.
 
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