Academic Interviews and Campus Visits

Interviews for academic jobs take many forms, from phone or video conversations to a brief interview at a major conference to longer campus visits. Whatever the interview forum, you need to speak clearly and concisely about your research and teaching in ways that appeal to specialists as well as generalists. You also need to convince your interviewers that you’re the right person for the job. This section offers guidance on how to conduct yourself throughout the interview process. It will help you navigate the various stages of the interview process, from the first contact with a search committee through negotiating the terms of a job offer.

Preparing for Interviews

Plan to spend a lot of time preparing for each of your interviews. Prepare answers to commonly asked questions, especially about your research, teaching, and interest in the institution offering the interview. There is nothing more likely to offend a search committee than ignorance about their department, students, and mission. Your dissertation advisor and faculty in your department can advise you on academic interviews.

To prepare for an interview, whether online, over the phone, or on campus:

  • Develop your own list of questions and practice answering them.
  • Write down answers to key questions and practice delivering them out loud.
  • Time your answers so that you’re not speaking for more than a few minutes at a time.
  • Schedule a mock interview with your department

Conference Interviews

Many first round academic interviews take place at large national conferences and professional gatherings. Search committees often use these interviews to narrow the pool of job candidates to a few people who will then be invited to campus for a more intensive series of interviews.

Conference interviews usually focus on broad topics. You’ll probably be asked questions about your dissertation research, your plans for future research, and the courses you might teach at their school. Conference interviews also offer you a chance to ask questions about the institution and the department.

The resources below offer point-by-point advice on how to conduct yourself during a conference interview. These tips will help you depersonalize and feel reasonably confident in a difficult process.

Campus Visits

After a first round interview at a major conference, or a successful phone or video interview, a department may invite you to campus. Campus visits often entail a series of interviews with department faculty and university administrators; a teaching demonstration or research presentation; opportunities to meet undergraduate and graduate students in the department; and informal meetings over lunch and dinner.