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November 25, 2006

preparing for the interview

Of course there is no way to anticipate every question that you will be asked in an interview or campus visit. However, many questions are relatively standard, and if you think about them beforehand, and mentally prepare good answers, your actual answers will be that much more convincing.

The following site is designed for prospective professors in advertising and marketing, but most of the questions are relevant to academic job-seekers in other fields:

A more meta approach to attitude-related questions that sort out the "fit" and collegiality issues in hiring, including questions you might expect from deans and college presidents, is here:

For research-oriented institutions, this list of questions from an American Studies search is helpful in preparing: http://otal.umd.edu/~sies/jobquess.html.
Source: Mary Corbin Sies, Dept. of American Studies, University of Maryland, College Park.

A big part of the interview(s) is having good questions to ask the different people you'll meet. The American Political Science Association has established a list of agreed-upon questions that institutions will answer:

The following article in Chronicle of Higher Education also discusses the kinds of questions you should ask in interviews:

Not included in these question lists, but also something to consider, is a group of questions some of our grad students recently faced in campus visits: How do you encourage diversity? Describe how you have worked/would work to promote diversity in this department and in your courses. The Chronicles of Higher Education recently issued a special report on diversity: see http://chronicle.com/indepth/diversity/.

creating a research statement

This is a placeholder for future information.

statement of teaching interests

Recent job postings we’ve seen request a “statement of teaching interests? rather than the teaching philosophy described in the previous entry. In a recent panel in a Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) course, several seasoned search committee members opined that the teaching philosophy is deadly to read and doesn’t really give much idea of how effective the person would be as a teacher. I think that the statement of teaching interests might be a much better way to convey that.

What is a statement of teaching interests? There appears to be no consensus on the terminology, but here are some different approaches:

1. “Say what you can teach.? The following site is mainly about how to organize your entire dossier, with specific information about how to organize your CV, but down near the bottom of the page is this information about writing a teaching statement:

“A “Statement of Teaching Interests? is typically required as part of the application process for an Assistant Professor position. Tell the reader what you feel competent to teach. If you are applying for a job where teaching biochemistry is one of the requirements as stated in the job ad, then you better be sure you tell them you want to teach biochemistry. This may sound trite, but you would be amazed at the number of people who fail to follow this seemingly self-evident step.? See http://www.dartmouth.edu/~gradstdy/careers/services/vita.html.

2. The umbrella document. The following site at Emory University conceives of the Statement of Teaching Interests as an umbrella document that contains the teaching philosophy, a description of teaching experiences (courses, lectures, workshops, etc.), a description of efforts to improve teaching (workshops, courses, etc.), and then appendices such as syllabi, lecture handout, assignments, and teaching evaluations. See http://www.med.emory.edu/POSTDOC/Web%20Forms/Adobe%20Forms/Job%20Search%20Docs-%20Critique%20Service%2010.30.03.pdf, skip down to the second page.

3. Some samples:

This computer science example is interesting because it combines prior experience, advising experience, and teaching interests in a single narrative. I think it would be even more effective if it included a paragraph on approach to teaching computer science.

This web-based teaching statement by psychology professor Cynthia Angel is well-organized, with logical categories and a lot of information. I especially like the details about the courses she’s already taught:

Here is another nicely organized one: nuts and bolts, bullet-format rather than narrative. I especially like the categories; for me they really help to understand this person as a teacher: