10 interview tips you’ll need for academic jobs

I have served on many search committees in International and Global Studies over two decades, and I want to give some tips for academics applying for faculty positions. Some of these points are obvious, but they are easy to forget during the pressure of a job interview:

 

  1. Do your research, and know all the faculty members’ work before you arrive. This is a sign of respect, and will be very helpful during the dinner meetings.
  2. Before you come to the campus, you should also look at the department’s courses online, and have a good understanding of how the curriculum works. This step will enable you to better explain how you can contribute to the department’s offerings.
  3. When you are giving a talk based on your research, make sure that you convey the relevance of your work for nonspecialists. Many applicants don’t do this, and no matter how theoretically relevant or innovative, you can lose your audience otherwise, even when they are in the same field.
  4. Maintain your energy throughout the interview process. Yes, the search process is exhausting, but the person having coffee with you on the second afternoon should still see you as someone who will be dynamic in the classroom.
  5. Think about how you would teach online. Increasingly departments expect faculty to be willing to do some online teaching, and they often just assume that younger faculty will know how to do this. While you may not have had a chance to work with a class in an online format, spend a little time talking with someone who has, and convey enthusiasm about the opportunity to do so. This may set you apart from the other applicants.
  6. Be flexible in what courses you would be willing to offer. Do not be too modest, and say that it would take you a lot of work to develop a course, or that you’re not sure if you have the expertise. That is not how you wish to present yourself during an interview.
  7. Often candidates will have a lunch meeting with students. Search committees take student input seriously, so treat their questions with respect, and make an effort to engage with everyone. Try to learn student names, and to address students by them, even during a brief meeting. If a student has a question, get their email, and send them some follow-up information.
  8. After you have a campus interview, always send a thank you email to the head of the search committee, as well as the committee members. This conveys enthusiasm for the job, and people will remember it.
  9. Don’t bring up spousal hires, moving expenses, and related issues until you’ve been offered the job. All those questions should be addressed during the negotiations after you’ve been offered the position. Remember, once you have been offered the job the power shifts to you, because departments are very reluctant to move to their second choice.
  10. Never, ever complain about your adviser or your graduate program. You were invited to campus in part based on the strength of that program or that adviser’s reputation, so such complaints undermine you as a candidate. They also may paint you as a difficult person. You’ll have lots of time for this after you get the job.

In terms of how to search for academic positions in International and Global Studies, the largest association in the field is unquestionably the International Studies Association. This association also has the best jobs page when you are searching for positions. One strength of this particular page is that the positions advertised are truly global, with multiple ads from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It’s also an interdisciplinary venue, which advertises everything from World Language and Literature positions to International Relations openings. Typically, November through May there are only a few postings, while from June to October there are a plethora. As you might expect, the deadlines for most positions typically run from mid-September to mid-October. As with most positions, almost all ads are for assistant professors; it becomes difficult to move once you have tenure, unless you are searching for a chair or director’s position. If you are on the academic job market, it is well worthwhile to attend the annual ISA convention, if you can afford to do so.

The Global Studies Association of North America also has a jobs posting page, although the number of advertisements is typically small. Vitae also has a free academic positions page, with a search function.

Good luck to everyone on this year’s market.

Shawn Smallman, 2016

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