If you want to continue in academia, you’ve undoubtedly started searching and applying to schools you want to interview with and potentially work at. You’ve been tweaking your CV for months, and you’re sending it out with a carefully crafted cover letter and samples of your research and writing. Now what?
Whether you are just out of a PhD program or a 10-year job-market veteran, you should treat your interview like a capstone presentation. Research of the school, the department, and academics you wish to work with is important. Equally important is knowing your own skills and accomplishments. Preparation can go a long way in helping you secure a second interview or maybe even an offer right off the bat. With careful study, preparation, and a confident attitude you can get yourself from interviewing to employed.
Here are a few steps, tricks, and tips to help you prepare
Are you planning to attend any academic conferences? They are a great place to participate in mock interviews. Don’t think of it as a way to rehearse your answers. Instead, use it as a time to get comfortable with your thoughts and ideas that you want to highlight in your interview. As for what you need to know, don’t focus only on yourself or the role itself, but have holistic answers that highlight the value you can bring to supplement the department’s research and reputation.
Be able to articulate your long-term personal and professional goals. Departments want to know you have ambition and a plan for your academic career. Be prepared to talk about your dissertation and how you can apply your findings to research in your new department. Discuss your interests and plans for future research and what you would like to get published.
Think of the interview as a conversation. Don’t feel like you’re only there to answer questions. Feel free to ask your own. Show yourself to be relaxed and fully engaged.
“What are your strengths?” Have examples ready of how you have used your strengths and skills to solve a tricky problem. Show yourself to be a problem solver. Talk about managing undergrads as a TA. Show that you’ve grown as an academic and desire to develop further.
Be able to talk about yourself outside of a work environment. Show them you’re more than just a resume. If you’ve gotten to the interview, they know you’re accomplished and you can write and research. Show off your intangibles.
Know the School
When answering a question, incorporate what you already know about work your potential department does. Have specific answers in mind and examples of research you like done by faculty you wish to work with.
Have a specific reason/project you can cite when they ask “So, why us?” This is another great chance to talk about your work and how you can use it to further department goals.
If you know which individuals you are interviewing with, do some homework on their research interests and which classes they teach. You can answer questions with answers that demonstrate how your knowledge and skills complement what your future co-workers are already doing.
How IHS can help
The Institute for Humane Studies can help you continue your career in academia. Funding from IHS gives students financial support as they move into a new academic job and beyond. You can use your funding to help pay costs associated with presenting at conferences, submitting manuscripts, traveling for interviews, and other financial needs associated with your academic job hunt.
We also offer Career Support for Scholars led by highly regarded faculty members to better position you in a highly competitive job market. Offered at academic conferences, we host mock interviews and can provide help with writing a CV, navigating the job market, and publishing
Schools want someone prepared and confident. Prepare yourself and treat a job interview like it is an actual job. You will be glad you did when you wow them with your preparedness, thoughtful answers, and in-depth knowledge of the role and the school.
Sources: David Laibson’s job market tips. 7 Campus Interview Tips.