If you’re looking for a job in academia where competition is intense, being prepared for the interview is essential. Long before the interview, consider the key points you want to communicate to the interviewers and anticipate the information they will likely request of you.
The following 10 questions are typical in academic interviews:
1. Describe your research goals.
One important aspect of discussing research in an academic interview is the ability to describe it effectively to a non-expert audience. The interviewer is looking not specifically to vet the content of your research, which is probably already familiar to him if you’ve landed an interview, but to evaluate how your presentation as a teacher.
2. How does your work relate to cutting edge research in the field?
With this academic interview question, the interviewer will assess your familiarity with the work of leading experts and your ability to distinguish cutting edge developments from mundane aspects of research. This sort of question helps the interviewer determine whether you are cognizant of the role your research fits, whether you are or are likely to become an authoritative voice in your field.
3. What are the practical implications of your research?
The key to answering this academic interview question is remembering that the interviewer is looking to hire a candidate whose research has significant social value and is not merely an esoteric academic exercise.
4. What kind of funding do you envision to support your research?
The interviewer wants to know about your practical ability to bring in respected research grants to the institution.
5. How does your research guide your teaching?
Remembering that teaching is at the core of academia is essential to acing the academic interview. Tell the interviewer how your research insights and accomplishments make you a superior teacher in the classroom.
6. What is your teaching philosophy?
Answer this academic interview question with an eye toward demonstrating your commitment to engaging students and broadening their horizons. Take care to address the specific type of students typical of the institution as needs of the student body at a community college may differ tremendously from the needs of the students at a traditional liberal arts college.
7. What courses would you like to teach that our not in our current curriculum?
Aim for a balance of creativity and practicality. Suggest an innovative course within your expertise that is a good fit for the institution and its curriculum when asked this interview question.
8. What do you consider the optimal balance between teaching and research?
This academic interview question tests your knowledge of the institution to which you are applying as well as your interest and flexibility in accommodating the range of job demands. This question will weed out applicants who plan to live in the lab or never step inside one as well as those who have unrealistic expectations about the institution’s needs.
9. How would you teach course X?
Answering this question effectively requires recognition that different courses have different goals and that different materials are suited to different student groups. A course for majors will require a different focus than a freshman survey course, for example.
10. Tell us about your publishing experience and goals.
In academia, publishing is often equated with survival. This academic interview question gives you the opportunity to present your long-term commitment to publishing and to demonstrate your step by step progress in meeting your publishing goals.
Sources: http://otal.umd.edu/~sies/jobquess.html; http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~jbeebe2/IntvQs.htm.