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  1. #1

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    Job interview in academia

    I don't post much here, but I'm hoping there are people familiar with academia that can over advice about day and a half long job interviews.

    I have an interview coming up in academia and this is all new to me (my current position in academia was just a standard job interview). The interview starts the night before with dinner and then day 2 is a full day interview complete with a presentation and QA session, tours, meeting with library staff/department members, committee interviews, lunch, etc.

    I'm preparing my presentation (or at least I should be), but I'm not sure how to prepare otherwise. I've never had a day long interview. I've never had meals as part of an interview (what should I be eating?). They're putting me up at a hotel even though I'm local (I offered to stay over and while they said that would be fine, they emphasized that the hotel was for my convenience and that they'd arrange transportation to and from the hotel so I wouldn't have to worry about being late, parking, getting lost, etc. Basically, they all but said they'd prefer me to stay so that there's no chance I'll be late--if I don't stay and hit traffic, that will be held against me).

    Also, I've only been in my current position for a year. I love the work, but my supervisor makes everyone's life miserable (micromanager to the nth degree) and our director is in a position she's not qualified for so lets my supervisor run the show). If asked why I'm looking, how do I respond? I was thinking that while I enjoy my job, I'm looking for a position with more opportunities and potential for growth (current job/library leaves me with the maximum possibility of 4 promotions IF I get a PhD (not happening) or 3 without while opportunities in new job are endless). They know my current employer and the lack of opportunities (I'd stay as state employee if I got new position). Potential position is also closer to home/where I want to live (currently commuting 1+ hr 1 way).

    Any advice/suggestions? I wasn't nervous, but now I am. In the long run, if I don't get it, I still have a job so that should help my nerves, but still... I want OUT of my current job! The stress is extreme.

  2. #2
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    There are quite a few posters here that are in academia so I'm sure you'll get some good tips. As far as the meals go we recently had a thread discussing that.

    http://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/showthread.php?t=81174

    Good luck!
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    Thanks! I definitely read that thread. Of course, these meals are more get to know you meals, rather than formal interview lunches (I'm meeting with all these people at different times) so I don't know if advice is different? Of course, the basic tips are probably similar.

    Ahh! I'm just nervous. Hopefully by Sunday I'll at least have my basic presentation down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah View Post
    Thanks! I definitely read that thread. Of course, these meals are more get to know you meals, rather than formal interview lunches (I'm meeting with all these people at different times) so I don't know if advice is different?
    Don't assume you're not being evaluated during the lunches. When we interviewed people recently, after the formal interview they got a tour of our facilities. Lots of them assumed the interview was over, but the tour guides actually reported back to the selection committee about their impressions of the candidates, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sk8pics View Post
    Don't assume you're not being evaluated during the lunches. When we interviewed people recently, after the formal interview they got a tour of our facilities. Lots of them assumed the interview was over, but the tour guides actually reported back to the selection committee about their impressions of the candidates, too.
    Oh yes. I'm assuming constant evaluation, but a different kind of evaluation than the Q&A evaluation, if that makes sense?

    The stress! I really need to get working on that presentation...

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    Day long or even 2 day interviews are common in academia for faculty or administrative positions. You definitely want to spend some time preparing your presentation. Based on my experience, they'll be judging your ability to communicate effectively as well as your grasp of the subject during the presentation. If they're assigning you a topic, make sure you stick to that topic. You should assume that some of the people who sit in on your presentation will ask you questions about it and/or the assigned topic. As another poster pointed out, the search committee will probably welcome feedback from *everyone* you come in contact with during your interview. This includes clerical staff, graduate assistants, and any student groups you're introduced to.
    Last edited by Civic; 11-26-2011 at 01:25 AM.

  7. #7
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    Having been through this a couple of times:
    - Be nice to everybody, and I mean everybody. Because as civic says, pretty much everyone you come in contact with can be asked for their opinion on you, and it might have nothing to do with the quality of your presentation or your academic strengths.
    - Don't diss your former or current employer. It's a small world. Be tactful about them and why you're looking for something else.
    - Pace yourself, because this is going to be a very tiring process. Don't underestimate how bagged you're going to be by the middle of the second day.
    - Be prepared for anything. E.g. in a couple of presentations I witnessed, the candidate's work was verbally attacked by someone who really didn't have a dispute with the work, but just wanted to show off how much he knew (or, more accurately, what he thought he knew). If people start arguing with each other, let them go at it and stay out of it. Think about situations like that and how you will handle them if they arise.
    Who wants to watch rich people eat pizza? They must have loved that in Bangladesh. - Randy Newman on the 2014 Oscars broadcast

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    You are always on. There is never a time when you aren't under scrutiny. It is absolutely exhausting.

    I've heard stories that sometimes, someone will even go through the trash in your room to see what you get up to when you are alone.

    Most faculty interviews I have been involved with have involved two presentations--one in which you present about the way you teach or typical assignments or whatever, and one in which you actually teach a class to people in the department, although that one is often a second interview presentation. The first is usually more informal and people do ask a lot of questions.

    Now having said that, think about some of the faculty you have known over the years. There are some real freaks in that mix, yes? Yet they managed to get through the interview process and so will you.
    Trolling dates all the way back to 397 B.C. - People began following Plato around and would make fart noises after everything he said.

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    I've known people to lose academic jobs over lunch by a couple off-hand remarks they made, so yes, you are *always* on. Also, don't say you are applying for the position because of the geographical location. That tends to result in an automatic no-hire. Make an argument for why this institution is unique and special, and what you will contribute to it. Make sure you are familiar with the work of the faculty members, and place what you do in conversation with their work. Under no circumstances should you express discontent with your current place of employment. Say this institution would be a perfect fit because of how well your research interests dovetail with the work they are doing in x,y, and z.

    The following will sound silly, but don't drink and don't watch porn in the hotel. The school will get a report of the latter, and you don't want to do something stupid because of the former.

    Good luck!

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    Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the help/advice!

    A little more details. This is a subject specific reference librarian position. I believe, like my current position, it's technically faculty in terms of classification (head count), but non-tenure track and no voting privileges. So the presentation I'm giving is a 15 minute database presentation on designated subject area to a freshman class. I was told 50-60 people typically attend. The class is basically a condensed version of what I currently teach at my current position (basic subject specific information literacy class, just this time, focusing on a single database for only 15 minutes). I'm choosing a database that while I like the least (I'm more comfortable with 2 others, but they are less suited for freshman), but it's the database we always refer freshman to--the others are more complex/less intuitive. Great for research, not so great for freshmen.

    Also, in terms of the presentation, I was thinking to go part powerpoint and part live demonstration. With the powerpoint, I was just going to do a basic overview (how to find full text, what to do if the library doesn't own article (ILL), how to find database, etc.) and then I was going to jump to the database for live search examples. Or, should I just stick to all live? I was also planning to do a full powerpoint coverage to have just in case the network is down and I can't access the internet. Not likely, but considering that those things only happen when you're unprepared with plan B, I'd like to consider it insurance.

    Certainly will not express any discontent about current position. They likely know some of the issues, but that neither here nor there. I do need to remember to breathe!

    The one issue I have is qualification. They'd like a second subject specific masters that I don't have, but it's not required. I gather from others (and our recent searches) that they had 60+ applicants and it sounds like they've narrowed it down to 4 so that can't have set me back too far. And while I don't have the subject specific degree, I am the subject specialist in that area in my current position, so hopefully that helps. I'd consider a second masters in that subject area in the future, but it's something I haven't yet pursued. If asked, how do I respond?

    Any other suggestions?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah View Post
    I'm choosing a database that while I like the least (I'm more comfortable with 2 others, but they are less suited for freshman), but it's the database we always refer freshman to
    Academic Search Complete?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah View Post
    Not likely, but considering that those things only happen when you're unprepared with plan B, I'd like to consider it insurance.
    Having a Plan B is a great idea. If you have one, you won't need one. If you don't have one, you will. It's the Presentation Corollary to Murphy's Law.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah View Post
    If asked, how do I respond?
    I think "I'd consider a second masters in that subject area in the future, but it's something I haven't yet pursued," would do nicely.
    Trolling dates all the way back to 397 B.C. - People began following Plato around and would make fart noises after everything he said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    Academic Search Complete?
    CINHAL (I love PubMed and OVID, but neither are freshmen friendly)--Ebsco databases are easy to use even though I don't love them.


    Having a Plan B is a great idea. If you have one, you won't need one. If you don't have one, you will. It's the Presentation Corollary to Murphy's Law.
    Exactly my thinking

    I think "I'd consider a second masters in that subject area in the future, but it's something I haven't yet pursued," would do nicely.
    Great. I'll go with that if asked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah View Post
    CINHAL (I love PubMed and OVID, but neither are freshmen friendly)--Ebsco databases are easy to use even though I don't love them.
    Ah, yes, you did say subject specific .

    ITA about EBSCO, although I mostly don't love them because freshmen always think EBSCO is the name of a database, no matter how many times the librarians and I explain.

    I just sat through a presentation about CINAHL and PubMed, but I can't give you any helpful tips, I'm afraid. I was, um, doing something else and only pretending to be following along .
    Trolling dates all the way back to 397 B.C. - People began following Plato around and would make fart noises after everything he said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prancer View Post
    I just sat through a presentation about CINAHL and PubMed, but I can't give you any helpful tips, I'm afraid. I was, um, doing something else and only pretending to be following along .
    Same here...

    How is Pubmed not freshman-friendly?. All you do is type pubmed.org and type in whatever you'd like to search for! Of course, your searches can be better narrowed down to get you the information you want, but that's something you can teach!

    Though I have to admit that when I'm researching a topic or looking for new papers in my field, I use google (and google scholar) instead of pubmed. I get lots more information (+ preprints of unpublished articles and meeting abstracts that lend a better insight into whether someone else is working on similar things to what I'm working on...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by altai_rose View Post
    Same here...

    How is Pubmed not freshman-friendly?. All you do is type pubmed.org and type in whatever you'd like to search for! Of course, your searches can be better narrowed down to get you the information you want, but that's something you can teach!

    Though I have to admit that when I'm researching a topic or looking for new papers in my field, I use google (and google scholar) instead of pubmed. I get lots more information (+ preprints of unpublished articles and meeting abstracts that lend a better insight into whether someone else is working on similar things to what I'm working on...)
    Maybe it's not so much that PubMed can't be freshman friendly, but rather all the cool elements of it aren't freshman friendly. MeSH headings, fun crazy limits, search alerts, etc. Most of the class would focus on narrowing searches, not the actual database.

    Since most freshmen like the multi-disciplinary databases (ie: academic search premier, wilson, etc.), CINAHL is a good next step. Same ebsco platform. Can limit to full text. Easy to use. I find I can get freshman to use that a lot more than some of the other databases.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarah View Post
    ...Also, in terms of the presentation, I was thinking to go part powerpoint and part live demonstration...
    I strongly suggest you prepare a "canned" demonstration of the database you're covering just in case it is down during your presentation. Rehearse doing both the live demonstration and the canned version. That way you'll be comfortable doing your presentation, no matter what happens.

    About that subject area Master's degree...find out if this university gives faculty tuition waiver or discounts *before* your interview. If they do, you can tell the search committee you would take advantage of this benefit to pursue that second M.A. degree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Civic View Post
    I strongly suggest you prepare a "canned" demonstration of the database you're covering just in case it is down during your presentation. Rehearse doing both the live demonstration and the canned version. That way you'll be comfortable doing your presentation, no matter what happens.

    About that subject area Master's degree...find out if this university gives faculty tuition waiver or discounts *before* your interview. If they do, you can tell the search committee you would take advantage of this benefit to pursue that second M.A. degree.
    Definitely. The canned version is my insurance policy. If something goes wrong, I'll have it. But I'll make sure I practice both.

    And there is faculty tuition waivers. 2 classes/semester. I looked at benefits in detail to see how they compared to current job. I was happy to see the tuition waiver. While I have it now (though I could only take advantage of it this past fall), there's nothing I want to study at my school--that makes it harder to pursue another degree.

    Ugh. I'm trying to get this presentation going. I have some screen shots and practice searches and narrowing steps, but obviously I need to get moving and do more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by overedge View Post
    - Be prepared for anything. E.g. in a couple of presentations I witnessed, the candidate's work was verbally attacked by someone who really didn't have a dispute with the work, but just wanted to show off how much he knew (or, more accurately, what he thought he knew). If people start arguing with each other, let them go at it and stay out of it. Think about situations like that and how you will handle them if they arise.
    This reminds me of when our postdoc first interviewed with us - he did a presentation and one of the other researchers in our department, who's notorious for being a loud, obnoxious, fear-mongering, hard-headed know-it-all, raised his hand to ask a question. My coworker and I looked at each other with expressions, but the postdoc fielded the question wonderfully and the crisis was averted.

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    Well, wish me luck! Dinner tonight then the full day tomorrow. I'm happy, but not, with my presentation. Oh well, I just need to stop thinking and start breathing!

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    Good luck!!!

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