How to Ace Interviews for Academic Jobs
Interviews for academic jobs can be very tricky, as you are often required to think outside the box. In Academic positions, you will have to think on your feet. The interviewers want to test you; they want to figure out if you have anything exceptional to offer. Since there are going to be hundreds of other applicants for the same job, you do need to make your responses strong, structured and definitely different.
There are some basic questions that prove to be quite difficult to answer when you are on the spot. You may already be nervous, and your inability to think of anything effective to say will definitely hurt your chance of success. So to prepare yourself, read through some of the questions that interviewers usually ask, and decide how you can offer unique responses to each of them:
- Why do you want this job?
Of course, you may have your own personal reasons for deciding to follow a certain academic stream. But before you decide to confess, make sure that your answer does not make you sound selfish. A lot of candidates lose their opportunity simply because they do not understand the value of contribution. The panel needs to know that they will be benefitting from you as much as you will be benefitting from them. There has to be a mutual exchange, and you need to focus on that.
Make sure your answer is structured, and it is usually best to include some personal experiences as well. That will help you to assure them that this job means a lot to you, and you are completely committed to it.
- How is your research going to help when compared to other successful programs?
A lot of interviewers will ask you challenging questions about the purpose of your research. They may even crudely tell you that they do not understand the significance of your topic. This does not mean that they actually believe that what you do is a waste of time, but they want to put you in a difficult situation and see how you manage yourself. At such times, you must not get excited; rather, focus on explaining the benefits of your research project. You can even analyze how your research will help other programs to develop.
- What will you do if things do not go your way?
You cannot present yourself as over-confident. You must be humble, and admit the fact that there is a lot of uncertainly when it comes to academic professions. You may not receive grants for more research. Your conclusions can be easily proven wrong. Your research can turn out to be a failure. So when they ask you this question, make sure that you can tell them about your plan to handle such setbacks.
- What topics would you be teaching in class?
This is where you have to shine. You need to use this opportunity to show that you are aware of the goals of the university, and want to develop courses that would meet the desired objectives. Plan a course that will be helpful for the students. You need to develop a student-oriented program in class that will enable you to teach in a manner that suits them the best.
Before you go for an interview, it will be wise to sit down and think of the questions your interviewers might ask. Here are some standard academic interview questions and how to answer them:
Standard Academic Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
Write down your responses and make sure that you remember all important points. However, do not sound like you have memorized everything when you are answering during the interview. Make your responses conversational, and keep your thoughts well organized. That will help you to pass the interview with flying colors!