The job market season is right around the corner and many of us are preparing our research statements and CVs, all the while trying to keep our productivity up.
A common feature in the current job market is the phone or Skype interview. As exciting as this interview may be, the phone interview is fundamentally different from the on-campus interview – they want to whittle the long list down before they bring people to the campus for a broader look at their qualifications. This means there’s less time for you, the candidate, to find out what you need to know about the faculty. It’s all about telling the committee what they need to know about you in less than an hour. The details that will be helpful in your later negotiation need to wait, except inasmuch as they show you have thought deeply about who you have been as a researcher, who you would be as a peer and mentor, and where you want to be at tenure. [more after the break]
It seems like a huge challenge, but people have done it before, people will do it again, and, as far as I’m concerned, the most important thing is to be prepared and be calm. I have lots of questions for the committee: questions about how much collaboration happens within and across departments, how seminar series are run, how long grad students take to finish, opportunities for undergraduate training and mentoring, &cetera. Lots of questions, just not much time for asking.
Do your homework on the department, the faculty and yourself. Ask the hard questions and write down the answers (or go back and figure out what you need to know to be able to write down answers).
In preparing for phone interviews I’ve found it handy to look at multiple resources, because they often have different perspective on the importance of various aspects of the phone interview. I hope these links will help you out if you’re in the same situation as I am at some point in the future. Of course, if we wind up competing for the same position then you should ignore the following links and just wing it (and good luck!).
- Departmental Course Listing (should be obvious)
- Departmental Annual Reports (maybe less obvious, look them up, read them, learn about the department)
- Departmental/Faculty/University Strategic Plans (same as above, see what the vision is, where they’re going)
- The Professor Is In “Rocking the Phone/Skype Interview“
- Infactorium’s “The Tenure Track Phone Interview“
- DISCCRS’ “Preparing for a Phone Interview” [PDF]
- The Chronicle of Higher Education “What to Expect in a First-Round Interview“
- Inside Higher Ed “Preparing for the Phone Interview“
- University of Massachussets, Lowell “Sample Faculty Interview Questions” [PDF]
- FemaleScienceProfessor “Phoning it in” (a view from the other side)
If there are any resources I’ve missed, or things that you think are important feel free to add them in the comments.