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How to Stand Out in a Campus Interview

Module by: Rice ADVANCE. E-mail the author

Summary: This presentation was designed to assist and educate the interviewee regarding Campus Interviews, and was authored by Sherry Woods (UT Austin) and Rebecca Richards-Kortum (BIOE).

*(in a positive way...)

Assumptions

"Interview" = entire campus visit

  • Formal presentations/seminars
  • One-on-one meetings
  • Informal gatherings and interactions
  • Sample schedule

"Standing Out" = Positive & Negative

  • You want to be remembered… for the right reasons
  • You are always "on"…

Components of a Hiring Decision for a Research 1 Institution

Step One: Getting an interview

  • Recommendations from dissertation advisor and others
  • Publication record: quantity and journal quality
  • Match between institutional needs and applicant’s research focus
  • The “Hot” factor of research area
  • Formal application materials:
    • CV
    • Statement of research interests
    • Statement of teaching interests
    • Start up needs

Step Two: Getting an offer

  • All of the previous (and more…)
  • THE CAMPUS VISIT

Who Decides if an Offer Is Made?

  • Varies from campus to campus
  • Full professors
  • All faculty

Dean has the “final” say

Today's Focus

The formal presentation

  • Practice talks on Tuesday afternoon

One-on-one meetings and interactions with:

  • Faculty
  • Administrators
  • Students

Strategies for success and for avoiding common pitfalls

Meeting and Greeting Activity

General Hints for Success!

Top Rules #'s 1 & 2

Continually ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Who is my AUDIENCE?
  2. What is the CONTEXT/SETTING?

BEFORE the campus visit...

  • INVESTIGATE THE INSTITUTIONAL PRIORITIES, CULTURE AND NEEDS
  • Find out what you are doing and who your audiences will be…AND PREPARE ACCORDINGLY!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for 30 min of prep time before your seminar
  • Ask for meetings that will help YOU determine if position is a good fit
    • Assistant professors in the department
    • Potential collaborators in other departments
    • Graduate students in your area
    • Female faculty from other departments

BEFORE the campus visit... Homework

  • Know who everyone on your schedule is and what their area is
  • Find out what research areas the department is emphasizing
  • Find out what courses the department needs you to teach
  • How to get this info?

Things to Ask Everyone on Your Schedule

  • What are the P&T criteria?
  • Expectations about research $$ and supporting grad students?
  • What is the teaching load?
  • What are the strategic directions of the department?
  • If you could change anything about the department, what would it be?

BEFORE the campus vist... Words of Advice

  • Presenting oneself as confident and competent is a balancing act
  • The difference between: “I don’t know” and “I don’t know…”
  • “Knowing your stuff” is NOT the same as “Knowing how to talk about the stuff you know…”

Elevator Speech Activity

Elevator Speech Activity module.

DURING the campus visit…More Words of Advice

  • When gender matters and when it doesn’t…
  • What to wear and how to wear it!
  • When to ask questions and what questions to ask…
  • Giving a technical presentation vs. teaching a class

Anatomy of a Good Technical Presentation

Introduction - 10 Minutes

  • Get them excited
  • Why is your work important?
  • Background to understand it

The MEAT – 25 minutes

  • What you did (OK to sacrifice detail for clarity, not too simplistic)
  • What it means
  • Summarize as you go
  • Only the experts should follow the last 10 minutes of this part of the talk

The Implications – 10 minutes

  • What does this mean for the future of your field?
  • What direction will you take the work?
  • Leave everyone with a feeling of excitement about the future

Important Details

  • Clean slides, No typos, Large font
  • Outline easy to follow – help people stay with your talk
  • Rehearse for knowledgeable audience
  • Not too long or too short
  • Reference work of others in the field, especially if they will be in the audience
  • Practice answering questions
  • Don’t get defensive
  • Check out the room and projector ahead of time
  • Have a backup of your presentation!!
  • Begin by saying, “Good Morning! It’s such a pleasure to be here.”
  • At the end, say, “Thank You, I’d be happy to take any questions.”

Questioning Activity

Expect the Unexpected: “Hard” Questions

  • I don't think you've accounted for the research of Barnes and Bailey. Aren't you familiar with their model? I think it invalidates your main hypothesis.
  • Unpublished research in my lab shows exactly the opposite effect. You must not have done the proper controls.
  • I believe a simple non linear equation explains all your data. Why have you wasted your time on such a complex model?
  • (To the candidate) Well you didn't even account for phenomena x. (Aside to the audience) How can all this research be valid if she didn't account for x?
  • How does this differ from the basic model that we teach in sophomore transport?
  • It looks like you've done some interesting modeling. Is there an application of this work?
  • What a wonderful little application. Is there any theoretical support?
  • Those results are clearly unattainable. You must have falsified your data.
  • You've done some interesting work, but I don't see how it could be considered engineering. Why do you think you are qualified to teach engineering?
  • Your work appears to be a complete replication of Fujimoto's work. Just what is really new here?

Good Responses to Hard Questions

  • “That’s a really good question...thank you for asking it.”
  • “You make a very good point…I have a couple responses…”
  • “We’ve discussed this question a lot in our research group and here’s what I think…”

Final Thoughts

Strategies for Avoiding Interviewing Pitfalls

  • Being too collaborative
  • Being too “easy” (“Rice is my first choice!”)
  • Failing to ask questions about the work of your host
  • Focusing too much on social aspects of department/city

Preparing Tuesday's Talk

  • Who’s your audience?
  • How long?
  • What’s the setting? (AV needs?)
  • What kind of feedback will be given?
  • What if you “bomb”?

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