Finding openings and obtaining interviews for academic positions
continues to be challenging. While there is regular turnover and
some retirement, it is not like new institutions are being built or
departments growing. So, each interview should be prepared for
and taken as seriously as each paper we write for a prestigious
The PhD degree, these days, is like a union card in providing
eligibility. It does not grant privileges. It is your record of doing
well in obtaining results and having very strong letters of support
that will get you interviews.
In an interesting piece, after you get your position, it was
recommended that after three years, you should have a fair idea
if tenure will be granted. If you wish to remain in your position, or
more important, if you are uncertain or feel your position is perilous,
apply for positions elsewhere to obtain interviews. Look, apply
and interview. Certainly do committed networking. 2
So, when you are interviewing for a position:
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
- college mission and how your philosophy and approach mesh
- get a picture of faculty and staff turnover, usually through
informal discussions. Particularly revealing can be discussions
with students who are less guarded but observe changes.
- what are the “service obligations” of junior faculty? too much
committee work means less time for students, research and
writing for grants and publications, affecting the tenure decision.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
- ask to meet with students. They can be brutally honest and
reveal stark realities.
- how strong are communications between department? Politics
are common, but is there coordination and are there joint programs.
- is there collaboration between groups within the department?
- what is the hiring process? Is it a “beauty contest” with many
contestants? Are fewer, select individuals interviewed? What
is the decision based upon?
- what is listed on-line about events involving the department
and how much is not listed and “word of mouth”? What is
attendance like and who attends?
- what are the revenue streams for the institution? Higher ed
funding is in turmoil. What is the student mix in the department?
How many are on scholarship? How many transfers?