Unsolicited Advice: Job Search (Pt. 12)

In the last post about this I covered the basic ‘structure’ of the interview itself, and gave some hints about what to do, what not to do…. I didn’t talk much about the one-on-one interactions you will have with faculty during your interview visit… but Physioprof has previously posted on this over at the old DM site in glorious detail.. and with many excellent comments.. Also, I found this list of inappropriate questions you may encounter on an interview (from the Chronicle of Higher Education). But- one more thing that was rightly mentioned by a commenter on my last post about small talk-, you will be asked many, many times throughout your visit if you have any questions about the department, the institution, the city… etc. Have some prepackaged questions ready for these moments, open-ended questions work very well for this. Also fine to ask multiple people the same question, to pick up multiple perspectives on a particular topic.

When you get home from your interview you will be dead tired, but you are not finished. Give yourself 24 hours and then write a short thank you note and send it to the department chair and the search committee chair. I’ve seen such thank you notes sent to everyone on the search committee, but I guess I don’t’ feel one way or the other about doing that (I’m sure some of you readers will!). In any case, DON’T make the thank you note completely generic as in:

Dear Chair-

I enjoyed my visit, thanks for inviting me.

Candidate X (who is not making a good impression)

Make it more like:

Dear Chair-

I just wanted to write you a brief note to let you know how much I appreciated the opportunity to visit XYZ INSTITUTION and interview for the XYZ position in your department. I especially enjoyed meeting the faculty of the department, many of whom have interests similar to my own in the (or overlapping with my own) in XYZ subject. I think that the diversity of the department is a great strength for understanding XYZ from multiple perspectives. (Customize something here, display some interest in the position…obviously that sounds generic because I had to remove the details of a thank you letter I actually used,… but you get the idea, pick out a specific strength and use it!)

Sincerely, Thanks again!, or some such…

Candidate X
Your Contact Information

Now, leave it alone for a little while- you may or may not know where you are in the interview order. In any case though, it take the search committee a while to get their act together and choose their top candidate (From the Chronicle about Search Committee Slip-ups). Then it may take the department chair some time to get his or her act together and contact the top candidate for a second interview… or … aaahhhem… accomplish all the other very important things that chair people need to accomplish first… So, chill out- and wait. Don’t badger the the chair (department or search), focus on your other interviews for the time being….


3 thoughts on “Unsolicited Advice: Job Search (Pt. 12)

  1. As soon as you have an offer from somewhere that would be considered credible by another place where you have interviewed, it is totally appropriate, and useful, to inform the department chair or search committee chair of the offer. This can both (1) increase your perceived value in the eyes of the latter department and (2) increase the urgency with which the latter department will move on making you an offer.

    This only works if the former institution/department would be perceived by the latter as being a “peer” in terms of prestige, quality, etc. So, if you have a job offer from Harvard, telling it to Yale can be very effective, as they will be impressed. If you have a job offer from Southeast Central Nevada State University, telling it to Yale is pointless, as they won’t give a flying fuck.

  2. Excellent Points, PP… I’m slowly getting there… :-).

    Perhaps I should have included a paragraph about what to do when you go to an interview with an offer from another institution in hand already… because this happens also.

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