Before the Interview
- Get all the details straight when you arrange for the interview:
- Find out the length of the interview day and what meetings to expect during it.
- If you do not already have a complete job description, ask to have one sent to you.
- Will you be making a presentation? If so, on what? How long? To whom? How should it be delivered? What audiovisual or computer facilities will be available to you? If you want to use a particular kind of equipment, don't hesitate to inquire about it.
- Will you be expected to teach a class? If so, to whom? On what? What has been covered so far this semester? If you would like to use audio-visual materials, find out what equipment will be available.
- Confirm all travel arrangements. When planning travel, allow more than enough time to compensate for flight delays or traffic jams. Find out how reservations should be booked (if you need your tickets paid for in advance, try to negotiate that with the department). Save all receipts.
- Make sure you know the name of the person who has called you, where you are to arrive, how you will be met, the name of the person who will meet you, and all relevant phone numbers.
- If there is enough time before the interview, ask to have any materials that would help you learn more about the school and department sent to you.
- If you encounter unavoidable delays while traveling to the interview, call as soon as you can and explain why you will be delayed.
Learn about the institution and faculty
- Use Web sites. In addition to specific information, try to get a sense of the campus culture.
- If you are visiting an institution where sports are a major part of campus life, learn the names of the teams, both at the campus you are visiting and at your own institution, and how they are playing this year. Sports are sometimes used as icebreakers.
- Use Web and library searches for information on publications by members of the department. Try to learn the names of everyone in the department, so you can address them by name during your visit.
- Ask everyone who might know something about the institution to discuss it.
- Practice your presentation.
- Time your talk to ensure that it's the right length.
- Develop a "cocktail party length" brief summary to give to those out-side the department.
- Be sure your transparencies, handouts, and presentation software are ready in plenty of time. If you are planning a computer presentation, bring backup transparencies in case there's an unexpected computer glitch.
- Extra copies of your vita.
- Copies of your dissertation abstract.
- Copies of your statement of research interests.
- More than enough handouts. Make sure they look good.
- Samples of syllabi for courses you designed, reprints, abstracts of articles. You will not necessarily distribute all of these during the day but you'll be prepared with them if you need them.
- Something to do during delays in traveling.
- Whatever you need (running clothes, escapist novels) if you'll be nervous the night before the interview.
- Don't check anything important through on the airplane. Bring all the essentials in carry-on luggage.
During the Interview
- Remember that each new person you meet hasn't heard your story yet. Be prepared to tell it again and again with enthusiasm.
- If the day includes social events, follow your hosts' leads in deciding how much to talk about professional, and how much about social, topics.
- If you don't catch a name when you're introduced to someone, have it repeated, so that you know it. Shake hands when you meet someone.
- Acknowledge everyone present in a group interview, and, if possible, say goodbye to people individually when you leave.
- At the end of the day, find out when a decision will be made, and when you may call if you haven't heard anything. Find out if you should turn in receipts then or send them later.
After the Interview
- Take care of any extra receipts.
- Write a thank you note to the main person who arranged your day. You can ask that person to convey your thanks to others. Reiterate your interest in the position. It isn't necessary to write to everyone with whom you came into contact.
See also Kimberly Delgizzo and Laura Malisheski, “Preparing for Campus Interviews,” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 17, 2003