Unsolicited Advice: Job Search (Pt. 7)

Here are a few things to think about while waiting for that phone call inviting you to interview for a faculty position. First, you may have been thinking about/comparing all the places you applied to, since you have been reading a bit about each place and probably talking to your significant other (if you have one) about what life would be like in some of these places. DO NOT turn any invitations for interviews down on the basis of these thoughts and discussions (really the only reason to turn down an interview is if you have already accepted a position elsewhere). I have witnessed postdocs declining a request to interview for reasons of geography or spousal happiness.

And you may say, drdrA- why should I interview in a place I think I don’t really want to go to? Well, I say honestly that it’s difficult to get a really accurate idea of a place on paper. Best to visit the department, put faces/personalities/projects to the names on the list of potential colleagues, see the campus and the town, and gather the kinds of information you can’t get without visiting in person to make those kinds of decisions. Second, I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again- you get a job by having an offer (preferably more than one), and you get an offer by having interviews… and the more the better.

When you get the call inviting you for an interview- it will usually be from either the search committee chair or the department chair. Be interested in the position; ask a few questions about the department that leap out from your preparation- find out the usual format/schedule for interviews in the department. Will you be giving one talk, a formal seminar on your research, or two- the formal seminar and a more informal chalk talk… You may be asked to give some thought to potential colleagues that you might like to meet with, and the dates of your visit will probably be decided during this phone call and subsequent contact by phone or email.

Once this business is settled, an administrative person will usually contact you to arrange your travel. I know I shouldn’t have to say this but be kind to administrative staff- they are doing their best to arrange schedules for multiple candidates (4-5 is a pretty predictable pool to interview) to visit with numerous faculty with busy schedules. You are an invited guest, don’t forget that.


8 thoughts on “Unsolicited Advice: Job Search (Pt. 7)

  1. Excellent advice! Another reason for sending your application everywhere that is even remotely reasonable and accepting every job talk invitation you receive is that you need practice giving your job talk, chalk talk, and interviewing.

    Your first job talk is going to suck! You want this to be at your favorite place, or you want it to be at a place that you are ok with not getting an offer from? After a few interviews, you will get dramatically hugely better at giving the job talk, chalk talk, and generally interviewing.

  2. Another reason to be nice to the administrative staff is that they will be the ones best positioned to help you when you arrive. Start off with a good relationship. I think the point about not restricting your geography until after your campus visit is good at all academic levels.

  3. Physioprof- Excellent point. I will spend considerable time on job talks and the practice thereof- but its absolutely true that your talk given in the first interview is never the best one you give.

    Academic- Very true. We have administrative staff that run the whole place, they have been around for a long time and know all the ins and outs of the place. They are in charge of many things and can help you around the many administrative messes you will get yourself in to when you are the new kid on the block. I always feel kind of strange telling people to behave nicely- but its continuously shocking to me how many times I witness people behaving badly- especially toward those they perceive to be lower on the totem pole…

  4. More great points.

    I have accepted every interview I have been offered, for the reasons stated above. And to be completely honest, I have found myself very surprised at how much I have liked places that, on paper, I wasn’t so excited about. Also, I would say that with each interview, my talk and even my ‘interview skills’ are improving.

    administrative staff – I am always very appreciative, thankful and nice in all of my dealings with admin people wherever I go (and also my department). I think it is in part a reaction to how poorly I have seen said persons treated in my various departments.

  5. Tom-

    That’s excellent. Good luck in your search.

    I felt the same way about departments that I visited that didn’t look super duper on paper- I always got a much better idea of the possibilities in person!

  6. After reading this entry over again, I find that I am doing something that some may find stupid. I refuse to apply for positions in certain place X that I refuse to ever live in. In doing this I probably didn’t apply for 2-3 positions. I know it is foolish in some sense, but at the same time, I do not want to live in place X. ever. Lest you get a incomplete view, I have applied for positions all over the place…hot, cold, snowy, rainy, international. I just had to draw the line somewhere.

  7. Tom-

    When I was looking for a job I didn’t apply for 1 position for reasons of geography. I have been kicking myself ever since (and my husband hasn’t been very happy about it either), because I have since visited said place to give a seminar and found it really great. My stupid mistake.

    Obviously, it’s up to you where you apply- but to maximize your chance of getting a position- including the position you really want its important to have multiple offers. This is not so easy and means going on as many interviews as possible. … even if they are in places where you wouldn’t necessarily picture yourself living.

  8. Pingback: It’s the season…Academic Job Search Reposts.. « Blue Lab Coats

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