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  Tips and Resources for Higher Ed Careers


Types of Interviews:

Just as in other sectors, faculty job interviews begin with screening candidates to find 3-5 finalists. Screening is customarily done via the telephone ( or for adjunct positions via email) or through professional conference systems where hiring faculty representatives prearrange to talk briefly with several candidates. Once candidates are selected out of a larger pool, they are invited to visit the campus for a more extended interview that may last 2 days. In most instances, campus interviews  are funded by the hiring department. The most successful campus interview is a conversation between colleagues, not a repetition of the doctoral prelim examination or the dissertation defense.


  • Research the institution, the department and faculty expertise
  • If not provided, ask for names of interviewers and an interview schedule
  • Anticipate questions ( samples below) about
    • Details in your CV and cover letter
    • Research agenda
    • Course plans
  • Practice a 30 second and 3-minute oral presentation about your research
  • Schedule a mock interview/ job talk with faculty mentors, your counselor or peers; use the feedback to revise your presentation
Campus Interviews
  • Relax, smile, make eye contact
  • Remember names/professional data ; include everyone
  • Keep your answers brief and to the point, but provide specifics so that your listeners can imagine your research discoveries and your best teaching moments
  • Take all interactions seriously: with chair and dean, faculty, graduate students, staff. Treat informal social gatherings as part of your interview
Job Talks
  • Don’t assume that everyone will have the knowledge to understand your most complex research specifics. Provide background information but limit it to 5-8 minutes; finish in the time allotted. Pitch your talk to a general audience, but also provide meat for the specialists.
  • Present research information you are confident of, not material that hasn’t yet been thoroughly analyzed.    
  • Remember that your ability to handle questions will demonstrate your self confidence and communication skills in the classroom.
Sample Interview Questions
  • General Questions
    • Tell us about yourself. 
    • Do you consider yourself to be more a scholar or a teacher? 
    • Where do you think the discipline of _______________ stands today?
  • Questions on Research
    • Who  was on your dissertation committee?
    • Tell us about your dissertation research findings.
    • Explain your use of theory/methodology in your dissertation.
    • How prevalent is the scholarly interest in the area of your dissertation topic?
    • In what ways are your dissertation findings "new"?
    • What makes your project an interdisciplinary project?
    • What will your next research project be?
    • Which funding agencies will want to support your research?
    • Which publishers will you be working with as you move towards tenure?
  • Questions on Teaching
    • What kinds of students have you worked with in the past?
    • How would you deal with teaching a primarily white / diverse/ adult /commuting / working student body?
    • What would you want your students to learn in an introduction to French film for undergraduates?
    • What texts would you use to teach a survey course in French cultural history?
    • What methods would you use to teach a 19th century French literature course? 
    • Describe the undergraduate seminar  that you taught on_______________.
    • Describe your most innovative teaching method.
    • If down the road you were invited to teach a graduate seminar, what would you offer?                
  • Unspoken questions
    • Has this person researched our department/program history and the interests of our faculty?
    • Does this person ask discerning questions?
    • What kind of a colleague will this person be?
    • Will this candidate become a productive scholar?  Qualify for tenure?
    • Does this candidate seem interested in students?  in our students?
    • Will our students flock to his/her courses?
    • Does this candidate seem enthusiastic about the prospect of taking this position?

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