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What to say in an Academic Job Interview

What to say in an Academic Job Interview

Faced with the fact of a job interview, one may feel fearful and apprehensive, feelings that will not help when facing an interview committee. Preparing yourself as well as possible will soften the stress of such a situation. A job interview in itself is stressful. So, this is the first obstacle to overcome to show your employer how you manage yourself under strain. Thus, being prepared on what to say is critical to move smoothly through the process.

On the overall:

  1. Good manners count from the moment you step on campus. Actually, they apply to all areas of life. Being respectful may translate into positive comments about you and, thus, a plus. 
  2. Answer questions as clearly as possible and concisely. If you do not understand, it is better to ask for clarification than giving the wrong answer.
  3. Think, think, think. A couple-of-seconds silence will not hurt anyone but can give you the time you need to order your thoughts. 
  4. When explaining experiences, accomplishments, projects, etc., give specific examples. The "how" is what will show your way to deal with different situations. Using words from the job description itself can be helpful.
  5. Highlight your strengths in such a way that they relate to the job requirements and avoiding clichés. For example, we all know that having good communication skills is a must in academia. The point here is to show how you use them to get to a population of varied academic and cultural backgrounds and skill levels.
  6. Turn your weaknesses into positive learning and effective outcome. For example, let us take anxiety as a weakness. One way to counterpart this weakness is by saying that when you get too anxious about the progress of a project, you turn more proactive, focusing on its development.
  7. If possible, talk to other people who have gone through academic interviews to get a more precise insight of this particular kind of interview. It can enrich your talk.
  8. Also, it is advisable to record and then listen to yourself. Doing this may be tedious, but you will be surprised at how much you will learn about yourself, being able to polish your speed, pitch, etc.
  9. Listening is a valuable tool as well, sometimes underestimated. If you can show your interviewers that you listen to them attentively and understand what they say and ask if you dont; then, you are also confirming that you work well in a team, which is a valuable quality.
  10. Be prepared to answer questions about your research on hypothetical scenarios. For example, what you would do differently if you had to start over or where you would look for extra funding if you needed it.
  11. When prompted to ask questions, find some that are not answered on the institution website. For example, ask for specifics in respect of present and near-future projects you know the institution or the department is involved in. This action shows you have done your homework researching the institution. Also, it may be of great help asking about the job itself, which will show your compromise with your career.

Most important is to be yourself, speaking clearly and enthusiastically, always maintaining a positive attitude.