Academic job-hunting

Another one to add to the list of things to recommend grad students to read: Naomi Chana’s experience on the other end of the interview. It’s really hard to get this across to students hoping to break into academia: everyone who gets an interview is drenched in credentials, to a greater or lesser degree. It’s the intangibles that make or break that interview.

Naomi does a good job at making those intangibles a bit more tangible here, and her observations mesh well with my experience on a hiring committee last year. Most of all, you are trying to figure out who will make the best colleague. You would think, given how hard it is to specify this, that a committee would disagree on who this person is. While there are disagreements, most have an intuitive feel for who will fit well within the department.

There’s no trick to succeeding in this process, unless it is this: act like a faculty member when you are a graduate student. Don’t put off “until you have a job” things you want to do. Except for a reversal of cash flow to the university, the conditions are very similar. But if you see grad school and academic career as somehow discontinuous, they probably will be.

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One Comment

  1. Posted 11/30/2003 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    well, we’ll see… i generally do well in interviews and have only screwed two up, primarily because i asked for competitive salary, but now i have several apps out, including one to buffalo, and for some reaon, I always feel like i’m shooting in the dark with these things. I know someone should love to hire me, but i also know that i always end up with the “we’d love to have you, but not in our department” type letter because i’m not ‘normal’ meaning i’m not ‘discipline oriented’ ie ‘not communications, not sociology, not political science, not information tech, etc. etc.’. i am beginning to think they distribute that letter with microsoft word. nonetheless, we’ll see how this year turns out, i have no real hope of getting anything that i blindly apply for, this i’m pretty sure of, even though i did apply to several somewhat blindly. well, it keeps things interesting nonetheless.

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