The Academic Job Interview

Frequent questions in an academic job interview




1.    What is your teaching philosophy?


2.    How do you evaluate your students?


3.    What was your major challenge? Tell us about a teaching challenge you have faced and how you overcame it.


4.    What courses would you like to teach? What courses offered at our University would you be qualified to teach? Would you teach a methods course?


5.    How would you work with our students as opposed to those in your institution? Many of our students are more/less talented than those you are used to at your present institution. How successful would you be with them?


6.    Suppose two students argue heatedly and fight about a topic. What do you do?


7.    How will you handle teaching a diverse student body (racial, religion, economic, and simply different styles of learning)?


8.    How do you address culture, language, ethnicity, and race in your courses? Give us an example.


9.    Has your teaching been evaluated? How?


10.                       Tell us about your teaching experience.


11.                       How would you teach this course?





1.      What is your research agenda?/Describe your research.


2.    Describe your research at the level you would to a non-expert/undergraduate student?


3.    How has your research influenced your teaching?


  1. What contribution has your research made to your field?



5.    How do you plan to support your research? How will you seek funding to support your research? Do you plan to apply for research funding?


6.    What are your plans for integrating students into your research?


  1. Can you incorporate undergraduates in your research?






1.    How would you see yourself contributing to our mission and campus atmosphere?



2.    How would you contribute to our Department?



3.    What service experience do you have? Are you willing to be involved in committee work?


4.    Tell us about your experience working with difficult a colleague.


5.    Why are you interested in our school/department?


6.    Identify your strengths and weaknesses.


7.    What do you think is the proper balance between research and teaching?


Inappropriate questions



1.    Are you married? What does your spouse do? Is he/she an academic?



Questions you have to ask


The interview process is rather long. You are expected to ask questions at many stages of the process and to different people. At the end of the interview, they will give you the opportunity to ask questions to the search committee. These are very important. But you will also have to ask questions during the campus tour, at lunch, at dinner, while waiting for the research talk or teaching demonstration to start, etc.


There are many resources to prepare for these questions. Here is a list of some of the questions and an article with some ideas on how to ask the right questions.


About students


1.    Who are the students? Where do they come from?


2.    Do students work part time? Full time?


3.    What do students want to do after they graduate?


4.    Do you have international students? Do you have plans for internationalization?


5.    How many students in each class?




About the program/s


1.    Do students have to write a thesis to graduate?


2.    What is the relationship with other departments?

3.    Is there room for research collaboration?


4.    May courses be cross-listed?


5.    Are courses taught over a full year or over a term?


6.    Plan for expanding?


7.    Do you have plans for an M.A. program?/Do you plan to offer a Ph.D. in the near future?


8.    Do you offer a Fieldwork Practicum? Is it a requirement?


9.    Do students take other courses? Can students outside the program take courses in your Department?


10.                       Has there been a recent external review of the programs? What have been the main recommendations?


11.                       Do you have or plan to have international exchange programs?

12.                       How do you evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the program?


About the position

1.    How did this position become open? Has a colleague retired?


2.    What kind of a colleague are you looking for?


3.    What does the work load consist of in terms of courses, advisees, etc.?


About the Department


1.    What is the Department's atmosphere? Is it friendly?


2.    Is there institutional support for research?


3.    Is the administration supportive of the department and its program? How does that support manifest itself?


4.    What are the relationships like among the various departments in the college/university?


5.    What are the areas of conflict in the department? How is the conflict handled?


6.    What are the challenges currently facing the department or program?


7.    What are the procedures for promotion and tenure?


8.    Are there any standards or guidelines for tenure?


9.    What resources are available, such as research assistants, teaching assistants, computer services, and secretarial assistance?


10.                       How is the economy affecting the financial budget for the university? The department?


11.                       What have been the enrollment trends in the Department? In the university? Why?