I'm curious what are some of the toughest, most unexpected, or worst questions you've been asked or heard about someone being asked on an interview- phone or in person. How did you respond (or wish you responded)? Just want to know what could be in store- worst case- as I head to my first-ever interview, and think others could benefit, too. Thanks.
Date: 04 Jan 2011 03:51
Number of posts: 16
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I'd be prepared for the illegal questions that they aren't supposed to ask but might anyway (e.g., are you married/do you have kids). Someone said to me something like, " you know there are some things I'm not allowed to ask you, but they are things I need to know about anyway. So, is there someone in your life who might make it hard for you to accept the job if we offered it to you."
Describe you. What is the essence of [my name]?
Also, "is this a real search, or are you just trying to get a raise from your current dept?" - That wasn't as hard to answer as it was surprising.
I was asked what my view on paternity leave was? Am I married? Do I have any children? I was also told to work out my total start-up funds to discuss with the department head during my second day of interviewing. And a lot of other prying and weird questions.
A couple weeks ago I had an inteview that was full of these questions. The chair asked me about my current salary. The search chair asked me to openly compare and ask about how their place differs from my other offers. People in the department asked questions after my talk that were so convoluted, they even confused themselves about what they were asking, and they seemed to enjoy it. For instance, one of them joked, "I'm not even sure what I'm asking anymore, but let's see what you can do with it" and another one said "I guess parts of this are different questions and parts of this are just statments." These questions were not difficult on an intellctual level, but rather they were difficult simply because they required so much of my working memory to process and required me to address so many different things at once. They way to handle it - answer part of the question and then ask the questioner to repeat the question so you can answer another part of it. Odds are, even the questioner will not remember the other aspects of the question. Another person asked me to relate my work to Bayesian analysis, despite the fact that I (and I think most people) don't give a damn or know much about it. What I said was that I didn't know much about Bayesian analysis. I then asked him to define terms. Then I answered based on those definitions.
Oh man. I am pretty sure I know which department you are talking about. It's where I went to grad school. You have my deepest sympathies. I hear it's a pretty unpleasant place to interview.
The basic question you'll always receive is: What will your program of research look like for the next 5 years?
But the zinger is, after you've told them everything you could imagine yourself accomplishing in your entire career, they'll ask, "what else?"
When the search chair asks in hu's office: "Do you find me attractive?"
Any advice about the salary question? I am new to the job market and I am not sure what I should expect?
Also, I have looked at the average salaries for the universities I am interviewing at on Chronicle of Higher Ed and I have been disapointed about the gender disparity.
Could you just say something about being familiar with the salaries offered at that university and similar universities for positions like the one you are interviewing for and that you are comfortable with the ranges?
And yes, I've seen the gender differences in the salaries in many places and it's troubling.
I'd also recommend looking at the APA salary tables. Its imperfect information to be sure, but I think it is what the universities tend to use to make sure they're competitive. I interviewed at a place and they referenced these tables and said they typically were in the lower end, but within the range reported. The hard part is figuring out which values to use.
I've been told by several mentors not to say any actual numbers at the interview stage. You can say something along the lines of 'expecting a salary in line with recent hires' or something 'competitive relative to published APA ranges'. Really, most people are just expecting the same as everyone else so throwing out a big number (by accident or on purpose) isn't going to do you any favors.