Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Interviewing Successfully for Academic Positions: A Framework for Candidates for Asking Questions during the Interview Process

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Interviewing Successfully for Academic Positions: A Framework for Candidates for Asking Questions during the Interview Process

Article excerpt

Abstract

The interview perhaps is the most influential factor in the academic employment process. Although curriculum vitae, cover letters, and recommendations are essential aspects that typically determine whether the candidate will be invited for interview, the on-site interview typically is the final determining factor in the selection process. Hence, during the interview process, candidates should convey not only academic/professional strengths but also collegiality in an appropriate manner. Asking appropriate questions during academic interviews is essential in that it allows applicants to detect what is expected from departments or units and also provides applicants with valuable information to assess the best fit. However, an extensive review of the literature revealed no work that discussed explicitly the types of questions that interview candidates should pose. Thus, the major purpose of this article is to provide a framework for candidates who seek academic positions for asking questions during the interview process. In particular, typologies of interview questions are provided. Additionally, numerous questions are presented that are classified as being related to teaching, research, and service. Further, these questions are sub-divided into questions for search committee members, the department chairperson/unit leader, dean, and vice president/provost. Although the list is by no means exhaustive, it is hoped that it will help candidates view the academic interview as a two-way process in which both parties assume the joint role of interviewer and interviewee.

Keywords: interviewing, academic positions, job talk, interview preparation, interview questions, interview presentation, nonverbal communication

The interview perhaps is the most influential factor in the academic employment process. Although curriculum vitae, cover letters, and recommendations are essential aspects that typically determine whether the candidate will be invited for interview, the on-site interview typically is the final determining factor in the selection process (Kisamore, Casper, Martin, & Hall, 2004). Hence, during the interview process, candidates should convey not only academic/professional strengths but also collegiality in an appropriate manner.

Academicians involved in the interview process use the personal interview to confirm or to negate impressions conveyed by their curriculum vitae, supporting documents, and recommendations. University personnel also will attempt to assess the candidate's personality and to evaluate her/his potential as a professional colleague. These individuals take several aspects into account when deciding to recommend a candidate for an academic position, including communication skills, knowledge of subject area, enthusiasm, passion, and appearance.

Anxiety in the Job Interview Process

In the world of academe, interviews for faculty positions involve a multi-stage selection process that typically takes longer than is the case for most other job interviews (Ezell, 2002; Stasny, 2001). Indeed, these interviews often take at least one full work day and often go into a second day because interview candidates are expected to be interviewed by several members of the institution-from faculty members within the interview candidate's unit (e.g., department, college) to one or more representatives of the higher echelons of administration (e.g., university president, vice-president, provost) (Stasny, 2001). Consequently, anxiety is rife during academic job interviews (Young, Behnke, & Mann, 2004).

In the job interview situation, applicants are evaluated by interviewers who typically are strangers. Hence, the interviews generally are not under the applicant's control and the display of anxiety can be associated with negative outcomes (McCarthy & Goffin, 2004; Sieverding, 2009). According to Cook, Vance, and Spector (2000), applicants who display lower levels of anxiety are more likely to be invited for a second interview. …

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