Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Examples of pre-interview questions

Last year, several postdocs at my institute (including me) were applying for faculty positions at North American institutions. Frequently, before on campus interviews, a 'long' list of people are asked to take part in phone/Skype interviews before a short list for campus visits is decided on. Since this step is now so common, postdocs put together an informal list of all the questions people had been asked during this initial interview*.

I found the list helpful. The usual caveats apply - different types of institutes and search committees will have different priorities and focus on different types of questions (e.g. teaching vs. research). Thinking about the answers to these questions ahead of time can be helpful for developing a vision of how you approach teaching and research, and being clear in how you communicate that.

(*Thanks to Iris Levin for originally curating this list)

Big picture questions:
Why X institution?
What do the liberal arts mean to you? Why are you interested in a career at a liberal arts college?
Tell us about contributing to XX college’s emphasis on liberal arts in practice, interdisciplinary and/or international aspects of education
How will our Biology Dept enhance your teaching and research?

Teaching focused questions:
General approach
What courses are you best suited to teach and how would you teach it?
What does a typical day in your class look like?
What do you feel you would add to graduate and undergraduate training in the department?
What is the biggest challenge in teaching?
You will teach X course every semester, how would you keep it exciting?
How would you teach a lab differently for introductory, intermediate or advanced students?

Specifics about courses
How would you teach X class?
What sort of interdisciplinary and/or first-year seminar course would you teach?
What sort of non-majors course would you teach? How would you teach it differently for non-majors vs. majors?
What new course(s) would you develop and how?
Tell us about your approach to teaching an XXX course for students who have had one introductory biology course
Tell us about incorporating quantitative and analytical reasoning into an XXX course
Tell us about using open-ended, inquiry-based group work in an introductory biology course

Research focused questions:
Approach and interests
Briefly summarize your most significant research contribution.
Tell us about your research program
You work on xyz – how would you conduct your research here?
How do you see your research complementing that of others in the department, and what do you view as your unique strengths?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Who would you collaborate with here? 
How would you collaborate with faculty and bridge different fields?
What sort of projects would you do with graduate students? 
How would undergrads be involved with your research and what would the outcomes be?
Tell us about your approach to mentoring undergraduates in research

What sources of funding would you pursue to support your research program?
What grants would you apply to? 

Integration with teaching?
What contributions would your research make to these courses?
How would you involve students in your research outside or inside classroom

Misc (what type of colleague would you be?):
How would you contribute to the larger campus community?
How do you address diversity in your teaching and research?
What do you feel you can contribute to efforts to cultivate a wide diversity of people and perspectives at XX College?
Describe what you know about X college, how you would fit in, and any concerns.
How do you deal with conflict?
What has been the biggest obstacle in your professional development?

If you have more to add, please comment!

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