Academic | Interview Process

Download a detailed PDF

If you are selected as one of the top candidates for a position, you will be invited to begin the interview process. This usually starts with a screening interview completed by phone or video conference with members of the search committee. For more information about Skype/video interviews, read the detailed PDF. If the initial interview goes well, you will be invited for an on-campus interview.

On-campus Interview

The on-campus interview will typically be 1 or 2 days, where you will meet with the department chair, faculty, dean, and potentially students and postdocs. Usually, there will be social engagements that occur during this time, such as meals and car rides, as well as formal meetings and talks, such as job talks, chalk talks, and teaching demonstrations.

Be prepared to have formal and informal conversations with your future peers about your research, educational background, and interests. This is a time for them to learn about you, but also for you to get to know them. At this stage the search committee is confident you are qualified for the position. They are now searching for a colleague they will enjoy working with.

Key piece of advice – When you meet one on one with your potential colleagues, have a conversation about their science instead of talking about your science. Do not make the meeting about your research, as they have already been to your talk and read your papers. Show them the type of colleague you will be—this interview is about fit.

Do your research before the interview

Research the Institution

Before you step into your interview, you will want to research the institution. Collect information on the department’s course offerings and the research expertise of the faculty. What are their teaching and research strengths? Learning this information makes you more knowledgeable and confident before the interview. Furthermore, it allows the interviewers to see that you genuinely care about this position and their department.

Preparing for the interview

Current research

As a general rule of thumb, there will be more specialists in your discipline in a larger department than in a smaller department, so prepare your job talk appropriately. Develop two synopses of your research: one for experts, and one for non-experts. Make sure to practice them both.

Teaching Experience

Think about your general teaching philosophy as well as well as your methods in the classroom. Be prepared to talk about what you have been teaching, what you can teach, and what you would like to teach. Consider discussing specifics about how you would teach introductory courses; such as the texts, materials, and technology that would be used in the classroom. For teaching-intensive schools, you may be asked to do a teaching demo; and in some cases, committees may candidates to do both a teaching demo and a traditional, research-oriented job talk.

Future Research Plans

Prepare to show the search committee and your future colleagues what your research interests are and the impact they can make on your field and their department. In your chalk talk, sketch out your research plans for the next year, the next five years, and the next ten years. Give thoughtful consideration towards applying for appropriate grant funding and show the department that you are capable of fully carrying out the scope of your research plans. Be ready to express your ideas convincingly, even if they are preliminary.

Additional Resources

UCSF provides a good set of tips for preparing for your academic interview
Cornell University, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs- ‘Interviews for Academic Positions’