Interview Basics - The Job Market in 2023
What to do:
- Calculate time and cost.
- Allow an hour between interviews if at all possible.
- Make a list of all potential questions and write their answers. Practice (some common questions below).
- Think of how your qualifications (research, teaching, social networks, training and experience) are ‘unique’ to the department/institution. Work on opportunities to foreground your strengths. Anticipate your weaknesses and prepare route accordingly (i.e. if you have never taught an upper level course, highlight experiences you have that have prepared you for it)
- Research, research, research prospective employers. Be as specific as possible. They will most likely ask you: why are you interested in our position/institution? The more specific, the better. Make sure you explain how you fit amidst the variety of people already in the department (create a niche that does not overlap with others’ work)
- When offered the opportunity to ask questions at the end, draw on material you saw on their website if at all possible. I.e.: “I noticed in your website that various courses are crossdisciplinary. What are some opportunities to collaborate across departments?” Limit your questions to three. Never ask about labor conditions, salary, etc. DO ASK them to give you an approximate timeline of the search process.
- Although you should not present a false image of yourself, do move to spaces of possibility rather than to limitations. For instance, if asked: “Would you be interested in teaching a course in____?” Answer “certainly” and provide a small piece of your preparation that could be an asset to this end.
- Avoid questions like: what would I be teaching? Is there much advising? Show yourself as open to a variety of departmental and university needs. You can seek this information indirectly through carefully worded questions (i.e. “how is faculty time divided between research, teaching and service?)
- Keep your answers brief and to the point. Offer concrete examples that follow broader ideas (i.e. In my classes I work to generate a comfortable atmosphere through engaged learning activities. For example, last semester, in ___ I asked students to____)
- If in skype/zoom, be cognizant of the background (what the interviewers can see). If possible, reserve a room in the university where you are assured optimum technology. Access the room prior to the interview and try login in, etc.
- Think of the interview as a conversation.
- Talk too much
- Offer no specifics
- Convey an unbalanced profile of research, teaching and service
- Project an image of someone with preferences and limitations
Common questions that you should be prepared to answer tailored to each employer:
- Why this position?
- Can you briefly explain your dissertation? (avoid comments like “it is too complicated but…” You should have the ability to convey the complexity of your research in a simple accessible way) [Prepare a 2 min. and 5 min. version depending on whether it is a teaching or a research institution, or whether it is a broader modern language department or a Spanish department)]
- Where are you along in your dissertation? The answer should not differ from what your letter writers are stating.
- What are some potential venues for the publication of your research? (have concrete journals and publishers). If you are in a position where you can do this, do so to show that you are actively seeking publication.
- What is your approach to teaching a second language? Review the course on teaching methods.
- Would you be comfortable teaching an English language course to non-majors?
- What is a challenge you have faced in teaching content/language courses and how did you overcome it? (be ready for one of each)
- What are some of your ideas for a course? (If the university has a liberal arts sequence, have an idea ready. Have ideas for an undergraduate and graduate course. Tie the course to your research and academic/professional profile).
- Have the name of a potential textbook ready for language course, and a reasoning to why it worked and how you added to it. Have concise examples of readings for each course (three or four texts per course should do, but always explain the logic behind the choices and how they tie together. Show awareness of levels, time (semesters, trimesters), etc.