So I received my first campus interview recently! I have had a few phone interviews but a campus interview is so new to me. What are some "do's and don'ts?" I will be constantly moving all day and will teach a class and give a job talk. I'm more nervous about the class. Although I enjoy teaching the class and I'm teaching on content I'm very familiar with, I'm nervous about this part of the day (luckily it's early in the morning). What advice can some of you seasoned veterans give me?
Date: 07 Nov 2011 03:29
Number of posts: 37
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I have gone on a couple of interviews already and have several lined up for later on, and have yet to see a school ask me to give a mock lecture in addition to the job talk. Is this normal? That seems like a huge headache, preparing and practicing two separate talks. If you don't mind me asking, what area are you in?
From my limited experience, I would suggest that you bone up on all the faculty's research. Read a few recent publications for each person you'll be meeting with because you will be spending 30 min - 1 hr with these people, many of whom are outside your area, so definitely make sure you know what they do and how it might tie in to your own work. At meals just keep smiling and use the opportunity to get to know people a little more personally. You will be moving around the entire day walking to meetings, campus tours, dean's offices, etc. so make sure to wear comfortable footwear. Do not be afraid to answer questions in a direct manner at the job talk. It's ok to tell someone why you think they're wrong. The best advice for job talks is to practice and then practice some more. If the lecture you are giving will have undergraduates present, I would try to speak on their level (isn't that the purpose of a mock lecture?) and not present material that may be over their head — but don't dumb it down too much.
Also, I was told a mistake many of us make when designing job talks is "playing it safe" by talking about already published research rather than new work that has yet to appear in print. The SC (and most of the department) will have read all of your work, so they don't want to hear the same things again. Speaking about something new will necessarily be more exciting. Be sure to have a significant "future-directions" section, too, since this is your opportunity to get the department excited about the research you will be doing if you end up there, and will help demonstrate that your research is not the product of your advisor.
Hope this helps, and good luck!
Everyone laughs when I say this but more than one person has thanked me later for this advice: keep some gum, candy, breath mints/strips, whatever on you at all times. Search committees love taking you out to lunch and giving you coffee etc. etc. and you talk to people all day… helps to stay minty fresh if you know what I mean. ;-)
Related to this, all this talking and thinking and stress is going to burn resources, including glucose. I kept a few chocolate candies on me when I was on the market and it really helped in the afternoon when I was feeling a little stressed from the whole process, and probably running a little low on blood sugar etc.
This also sounds silly but I don't know how many times I've heard job candidates being criticized for their attire. Yes, it would be nice if we didn't care about these thingsand some of us don'tbut pick out something nice, and ask some people you trust for their opinion of the outfit ahead of time. If you're not used to wearing dress clothes, ask someone who is to help you.
I've been on one interview in the past where I both gave a lecture to an actual undergraduate class and then gave a separate research talk to the faculty and grad students, so I don't think this is too unusual.
The best recommendation for talks is: Practice! Practice, practice, practice. Practicing is annoying (I hate it), but remember social facilitation and the Yerkes-Dodson Law: If you make your dominant response an excellent and well-practiced one, it will be even better on the actual day when your arousal is through the roof.
The day will be tiring…. They always are. Try to get as much sleep as possible. Request bathroom breaks whenever you can (it's nice to get time alone to breathe, and often they won't ask if you need to use the restroom). Bring water with you.
I don't think you need to have read recent publications for every person you meet (unless, perhaps, you are interviewing at an R1 department). Most departments will have you meet with all or most of their faculty, and reading up on 10+ people's research is a lot to ask. From my experience (none of these were R1 departments), they don't expect you to be intimately familiar with their research. At the same time, however, I recommend having a "cheat sheet" for yourself that has each person's name, their area, and what their research interests are (which you can get from the website).
Thanks for pointing out something I didn't think of before. All but one of interviews I've been on/have set up at at R1 schools. Research is paramount for most of these positions, so reading faculty publications is a must. However, at LACs it would probably make more sense to spend your time practicing your lecture as I assume the primary focus for those hires is teaching, not research.
Echoing an above post, it is impossible to over-dress. Definitely wear something professional and conservative. For us guys, it is easy to wear a suit and tie, but I imagine the norms are a little less defined for females. Consult with a female mentor of yours to see what they would wear in such a situation.
returnofanon is right - I think attire is so important, especially for women. Conservative, comfortable… something you feel great in! Think about season, where you are going, etc. Chances are you will be walking a lot, across campus… so think about the weather where you will be. Wear comfortable shoes, even if it does defy all fashion laws. Sleep, water, mints, energy bar (yes, I have eaten one in a ladies' room and it did help!). Bring a few just-in-case things, such as safety pins, medications you might need, etc. (girl stuff).
And yes, prep and practice are the keys to the substance of the interviews… not only because you will do well but also because you will feel better!
mmmmmm, I just asked because of the attire consideration/ problem I've seen with recent applicants— both male and female. As returnofanon noted about asking a female mentor about attire…I've seen way too many revealing blouses from young candidates. Not a good situation on either end of the desk. Male candidates, please invest in dress socks. Too many of our search committee cracked jokes about the white sock problem. Sad but true.
I figured, @thatguy. I'm very aware of revealing blouses. I have already marked some that I have as showing a little too much. I'm very conservative usually when I dress so I'm sure attire will not be much of an issue, but I am definitely consulting with someone else.
Thanks everyone for your advice. It is very helpful.