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Panel discussion presented by David Scott at the 2010 NSF ADVANCE Workshop: Negotiating the Ideal Faculty Position, A Workshop for Underrepresented PhDs and Postdocs in Science, Engineering and Psychology September 19-21, 2010

You've gotten the phone call


A committee has judged you as a potential good fit.

The interview is your chance to seal the deal.

  • Lots of details arranging a visit.
  • Have a calendar at hand.
  • Being asked to interview first may be a very good sign.
  • If you are fortunate enough to be asked by several institutions to visit, think carefully about conflicts.
  • What if you interview on Jan 8 and get an offer good for two weeks, and your first choice interview is on Feb 12? (You can only say “yes" once.)

What is going on behind the scene?

  • A search committee has selected 3-4 candidates.
  • The entire faculty agrees.
  • The chair calls the candidates and schedules visits.
  • An itinerary is constructed for each candidate.
  • The interview occurs.
  • The chair and search committee re-evaluate the candidates. A recommendation to the department is composed.
  • The department votes to make an offer.
  • The Dean must sign off
  • You get the call.

Start your preparations

Putting together your talk is the most important item. Emilia Morosan will tell you how, in a few minutes.

  • Preparation (and practice) are key.
  • You may meet fifteen or twenty faculty.
  • You may have one-on-one interviews with
    • Department chair
    • Dean of the School
    • Ten senior faculty (and junior faculty)
    • A selection of graduate students
  • Read everything you can about the department.

How should you prepare to meet faculty?

Focus your attention on the Chair and on key faculty in your research area.

  • Read CV's carefully and thoroughly.
  • The conversation will not just be about your thesis research.
  • How will you complement the department's current work?
  • What new area(s) of expertise will you offer?
  • Read several papers by these faculty. You can suggest possible collaborations. You can ask probing questions.
  • Do not be passive or overly deferential. You are not a graduate student, but a faculty candidate!

What should you expect?

  • Some faculty will view their role as educating (“selling") you about the department, the university, and the town.
  • Some faculty will focus on your teaching interests, and curriculum development.
  • Some faculty will probe your understanding of the "big picture." What directions interest you? What do you plan to undertake in the next ten years? (Hard)
  • Some faculty will ask probing questions about your research.
  • Have answers ready! Ask for clarification rather than ramble. It is OK to say “I don't know," or qualify your answer.

Prepare your questions

You do not want to leave after two days uncertain if you would take the job if offered. You should ask about

  • the tenure process
  • teaching expectations (and load)
  • how I will fit in
  • research/publication expectations (which journals?)
  • external funding expectations
  • startup benefits (lab, reduced teaching)
  • would it be OK if I write a large software package

The generational issue

The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2014

Most students entering college for the first time this fall–the Class of 2014–were born in 1992.

For these students, Benny Hill, Sam Kinison, Sam Walton, Bert Parks and Tony Perkins have always been dead.

  • Few in the class know how to write in cursive
  • Email is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail
  • "Go West, Young College Grad" has always implied "and don't stop until you get to Asia…and learn Chinese along the way."
  • Al Gore has always been animated.
  • Los Angelenos have always been trying to get along.
  • Buffy has always been meeting her obligations to hunt down Lothos and the other blood-suckers at Hemery High.
  • "Caramel macchiato" and "venti half-caf vanilla latte" have always been street corner lingo
  • With increasing numbers of ramps, Braille signs, and handicapped parking spaces, the world has always been trying harder disabilities
  • Had it remained operational, the villainous computer HAL could be their college classmate this fall, but they have a better c folks on Parents' Weekend.
  • Entering college this fall in a country where a quarter of young people under 18 have at least one immigrant parent, they involves "real" aliens from another planet.
  • John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.
  • Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry

Seriously, does it matter?

The interview does not end with interviews and your talk. Conversations at meals/receptions are just as important.

  • You probably have been incredibly busy with your research and writing.
  • You may have given up reading the newspaper or watching TV news.
  • You need a crash course on current events.
  • It is OK not to know which TV series Clint Eastwood was in: Wagon Train , Rawhide , or Gunsmoke .
  • It is not OK to have nothing to offer on current events.
  • Be prepared to engage in a conversation about hobbies/activities you enjoy. The total package.

As the interview ends

  • Typically, you will have a final meeting with the Department Chair
  • “Do you have any last questions?”
  • Don't be disappointed if the signals are ambiguous
  • “We'll be in touch.”
  • It is appropriate to express your appreciation of all the work and time spent on your interview.
  • If someone drives you to the airport, keep the conversation going. “I was very impressed by the questions the graduate students made...”

After the interview

  • A thank you note to the Department Chair is a good idea.
  • If you promised Professor X a copy of your paper, be sure to follow through.
  • (Keep notes. You will be completely exhausted by the end and your memory may blur important details.)
  • Think critically about what you learned during the interview.
  • If during a later interview, you realize you did not cover a particular topic, you can contact the Chair.
  • Or maybe you should wait for “the phone call."
  • Good Luck!

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
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Source:  OpenStax, 2010 nsf advance workshop: negotiating the ideal faculty position. OpenStax CNX. Feb 11, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11275/1.4
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