Tomorrow's Professor Msg.#94 Ph.D. Interview Preparation Guide for Positions in Academia


My thanks to Ms. Page Blauch for calling my attention to an excellent posting on how to prepare for a successful campus interview. The 3,000-word article is one of the best descriptions I have come across on this subject. It can be found at: []. The guide, written by Trina Sego and Jeff I. Richards, has five parts:

(1) What They Are Looking For
(2) What You Should Expect
(3) How to Prepare
(4) Some Questions You Should Expect
(5) Some Questions You Can (or Should) Ask.

Below is a copy of Part (3), How to Prepare.

Rick Reis

UP NEXT: What Scientists Want to Know

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By Trina Sego and Jef I. Richards

Part (3) How To Prepare

There are a few steps you can take in preparation for your interviews:

When candidates interview with our own faculty, attend their presentation. This is the single most valuable step you can take in preparation for your own interview, because you can see what they do right/wrong and the questions that are asked.

Try to make significant progress on your dissertation before you begin interviewing. A candidate who is farther along is almost always more impressive. If you are in the proposal stage and you are competing against someone who already has collected their data, you are at an inherent disadvantage.

Attend conferences, such as the AAA, AEJMC, and ICA conference, and get to know people. Even if you have a couple of years before you start searching for your job, people may take notice of you and watch your progress with an eye toward hiring you.

Go through the interviewing process at those conferences.

Go through the interviewing process at the AMA Summer Educator?s Conference, whether or not you desire a job in a marketing department. This is excellent practice, some ad programs do interview candidates there, and you might find a position that really interests you.

Prepare your presentation carefully.

Find out how long you will have. I common length of time is one hour, but that includes time for questions. Consequently, your presentation might be 30 - 40 minutes. Your contact (e.g., the department chair) should be able to give you some idea how long it should be.

Plan it so it won?t go over the allotted time. Bad planning can result in people not being able to ask the questions they want, or even missing something that could help to convince them to hire you.

Make it easy to understand. Remember that you (should) know the subject matter of your dissertation better than anyone else, so don?t assume that your audience will know everything you do about the topic. Define your terms, explain the basics of the theoretical basis of your study, how them what previous researchers have found, and how your study adds to that knowledge.

Make it simple, but not condescending.

Spend more time on what you are doing, than you spend discussing what has been done in the past.

In only 30 minutes you can?t possibly cover everything that is in your dissertation, so remember that what you are presenting is a summary. Hit only the high points.

Be specific. Give plenty of detail about your sampling, questionnaires, experimental design, analytical methods, etc.

Use plenty of visuals, and keep them clear and simple. Put all of your key points on visuals, along with any charts, etc., that will help them to understand what you are doing. If you will need certain equipment, such as a slide projector or videotape machine, be sure to let them know well in advance.

Know exactly what you intend to say, and when you will say it. Have your presentation absolutely organized. Don?t try to handle it on the fly. A disorganized or awkward organization is not impressive.

Know precisely how you will handle your visuals, and when you will show them. Again, you want to avoid the appearance of being disorganized.

Practice, practice, practice. This should be the smoothest lecture you?ve ever given. Faculty members will be watching your presentation with an eye toward assessing your ability to teach.

Give a brown bag presentation of your lecture here, before you do it at any other school. This not only will allow you some additional practice, it will permit you to obtain some feedback from a "friendly" audience. You may find that you want to make a few adjustments as a result of that feedback.

Read through?and think about?each of the questions outlined in the next sections, before you go on your first interview.