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.
Regardless of whether you would like to pursue a career in academia, research, or elsewhere, you will likely need at least one letter of recommendation to apply for your first job out of graduate school. You may have some fuzzy memories of requesting letters of recommendation from previous professors way back when you applied to grad school, but you may need a reminder about how to ask for letters of recommendation.
Whom to Ask
You can ask professors, employers, and colleagues for letters of recommendation. Choose professors who know you from courses in which you performed well. Professors must not only know your name but must also have spoken with you outside of class. It helps if you have taken more than one course with professors whom you choose to ask. Ideally, you would like your professors to write letters with specific information that is unique to your accomplishments and personal characteristics. If you ask employers or colleagues to write letters for you, be sure to select people who hold professional expertise in a field relevant to the position to which you are applying.
When to Ask
Make sure that you give those who are writing your letters plenty of time to write their references for you. You do not want rush your references, so don’t wait until the last minute to ask. If you can, send your requests for letters of recommendation 5–6 weeks before you must receive the letters. If you do not have that much time, certainly send the requests as soon as possible.
How to Ask
Tell those you’ve asked why you are requesting letters of recommendation from them. Most likely, you chose them because you recognized their roles or contributions to your field and because you value their opinions of you. You should provide the people who are writing your letters of recommendation with a current copy of your CV so that they can incorporate some of your accomplishments in their letters. You should conclude your recommendation requests by giving people the opportunity to decline writing your letters of recommendation for any reason and by offering further assistance with the task if they do agree. If they agree to write your letters, do not forget to thank them for their time and efforts.
Requesting letters of recommendation will be much less daunting if you have already developed a positive rapport with the person over time. Hopefully, you have been building an academic relationship with several of your professors and other academic administration since you started your graduate program, which could reduce some of the pressure of asking for letters of recommendation.