Your seminar-giving, interviewing, chalk-talking skills are going to get better and better the more interviews you go on. But you will not get better at waiting for the search committee to decide on their favorite candidates. As Physioprof pointed out in the comments to my last post about this (Pt. 12), it’s very appropriate to inquire about the status of a search, and inform the chair of other offers once you have an offer in an institution of equal or greater quality (I don’t know if that’s the right word but you get my drift). Every search committee I have been on has interviewed all 4-5 candidates they flagged for an interview before they have a discussion about/make a decision on who is the top candidate. I think that sometimes when there is a clear favorite, an offer goes out prior to this- but I haven’t personally seen a situation where that happened. Then, if you are the lucky winner, the chair of the hiring department will give you a call and invite you (and your spouse, if there is one) for a second visit.
The second interview has a little more informal structure than the first interview, and you will have the chance to gather a lot of information about the institution, what it will be like to work there, and what it will be like to LIVE there. At this point the department has decided that you walk on water and will try to recruit you. You will meet with the department chair (AGAIN) and a few other faculty (AGAIN). You will be introduced to various groups on campus to which you might gravitate (women faculty for example). You can (and should) tour and talk to those in charge of any special facilities you might be a user of (animal facilities, and core facilities come to mind) if you haven’t done this already on your first visit (as pointed out by Ewan in the comments). You might be introduced to how grants administration generally works in that institution. You will be shown laboratory space that you might inhabit. You will also get a taste for the area and the cost of housing and such, and will probably be set up to drive around with a real estate agent. You will be able to gather more specific information about schools and childcare, and visit some facilities.
If you have a spouse, he/she should join you on this visit. Spousal job accommodations, which you have introduced to the appropriate person ON YOUR FIRST VISIT (especially if a faculty position is required), will be fully explored during this second visit. Your spouse will have a whole separate schedule of their own in these cases, which will likely include giving their own job seminar in the appropriate department if a second faculty position is being sought.
Remember that I said that you are now being recruited. You will want to come prepared to this visit by making an itemized and detailed list of equipment, supplies and personnel,- including prices- that you will need to fully fund your first 3-4 years on the job. You may be asked for such a list prior to your visit- and you should think carefully about what you will need to get yourself off to a good start. Your goal here now, if you take the position, is to get external funding, write papers and get tenure…. Think about these things while making your list.
You will need to gather some important information during your second visit- much of it you can figure out from what I have already written. All of these things can be asked on the first visit as well- but if you haven’t covered them already here they are.. (and this list isn’t complete for sure):
1. What is the annual cost of a graduate student –stipend, benefits, and tuition? Is any portion of this covered from any other source for any duration? Is there a training grant and how are students selected to receive funding from this training grant?
2. Number of graduate students admitted annually, and what are their origins- are they domestic, are they foreign?
3. Where do the indirect costs from any grants you bring in go, and most importantly- do any fraction of these come directly back to you or your lab???
4. Who has postdocs and how easily are postdocs recruited into XYZ institution/department?
5. Is there shared equipment in the department?
I know there are more, but I’m blanking at this moment. … I also know I am going to have to explain what IDCs are (indirect costs),… this has to wait!!!