Cardinal Sins of Interviewing for an Academic Job

There is so much to remember to do when interviewing for an academic job, but is there anything you should remember to avoid? Below are a few examples of things that you should avoid doing before, during, or after interviews for an academic job.

Scheduling interviews late in the season.

This is a bad idea because interviewers may have already made their hiring decisions before they even get to interview you. Additionally, interviewers could be fatigued from interviewing all of the candidates before you and could have possibly switched to autopilot by the time you arrive for your interview.

Acting inappropriately before or after interviews.

Don’t listen to your iPod, text, or play games on your phone while you are waiting to be interviewed for the academic job. Imagine that your academic interview actually starts from the moment you approach the campus, and present yourself appropriately at all times. You never know who you could run into in the elevator or just outside of the building, so practice professional etiquette and hold doors for people.

Not having multiple copies of your job talk.

Equipment failure happens, even if it is not your fault. Bring a soft copy of your talk on a thumb drive, save it in your e-mail, and have a back-up hard copy, such as handouts and written notes, just in case. If there is a problem in which you are unable to use technology in your presentation, you still must present your job talk. How you handle a situation like that will show your interviewers a lot about your character and your ability to work under stressful conditions.

Bad-mouthing colleagues or employers.

Mentioning university or office politics could cause interviewers to perceive you as unable to be discreet or to handle work pressure. Additionally, you might actually be bad-mouthing a friend or colleague of the people interviewing you, so remember that the world of academia is not that big.

Not having questions prepared to ask.

Interviewers may judge you by the questions you ask, so choose both generic questions and specific questions that are unique to each school. Choose your questions carefully.

Not sticking to the schedule.

Don’t miss an appointment. If an interview with one individual is running late, discreetly check the time, and about 5–10 minutes past the scheduled end time, explain that though you’d love to keep talking, you don’t want to keep your next appointment waiting. Don’t depend on others to manage your time.

Not sending a thank-you note after the interviews.

You must show gratitude for the time your interviewers took to meet with you. A thank-you note doesn’t have to be a hand-stamped card on homemade paper; a thank-you e-mail is sufficient.

These are only a handful of things not to do during an interview for an academic job. Other things to avoid include asking about salary, lying, and using slang; however, this is true for all interviews—not just for those in academia.

 

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