Friday, December 9, 2011

APA Interview Tips

It's high time for job applicants to begin hearing from interviewing schools about scheduling an APA interview. So here are a few tips for those being interviewed at the APA.

1. Be yourself. Your task is not simply to get the job you’re interviewing for, it’s to find a suitable place to begin your career. So give the search committee an accurate sense of who they’d be hiring (or declining to hire). Attempts to chisel yourself into what you think the committee wants almost always backfire. Why would you want to be hired by a department that thinks you're something you're not?

2.
If you haven’t read it, don’t say you have. The surest way to undermine your chances at getting an on campus is to be caught in a lie about scholarship. I’ve seen this happen dozens of times: A colleague asks a candidate if he or she has read some new book or article that’s loosely (not centrally) on the topic of the candidate’s dissertation. The candidate says that he/she has. The colleague asks a pointed question about the book or article. The candidate backtracks, saying that he or she hadn’t read it “carefully” or “only quickly” read the piece. The colleague then asks a more general question about the book or article. The candidate backtracks again. And so it goes…

3. D
o your homework. You’ll almost certainly be asked whether you have any questions about the institution or department with which you’re interviewing. Have some. The internet makes it unbelievably easy to find out about the department or institution. Do it. But, more importantly, knowing about the department you’re interviewing with can help you to give better answers to other questions you’re asked. For example, knowing that the department offers three different Ethics courses at the undergrad level can be beneficial when you're asked a question about how you'd teach Ethics.

4. D
on’t gossip. As amazing as it sounds, I’ve seen lots of candidates include in their answer to some philosophical question some off handed comment or other about the personal lives of well-know people in the profession, or the prevailing rumors about someone or other’s relationship with the other people in his or her home department, and so on. Perhaps candidates think that this kind of thing makes them look like they're in the know or some such. But it really just makes them look unprofessional and petty. Don’t do it.

5. No matter what, DO NOT get drunk at the Smoker. Even if you have no intention of visiting the interviewing department's table, even if the interviewing department has no table to visit, even if all the members of the interviewing department have told you they're all leaving the conference directly after your interview, DO NOT be at the Smoker under any kind of impairment.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

re 2: On the other hand, I've had my admission that I haven't read a work used against me in an interview. Take away lesson: If someone asks you whether you've read something tangentially related to your research, go on alert. If I had seen it coming, I like to think I would have had the balls to answer the question: "well, as I mentioned to you earlier, I haven't yet had the chance to look at X"

Anonymous said...

re 5: Word.

Glaucon said...

Re: #3. When asked if you have any questions, do not get your Lebowski on and ask, "Do you mind if I do a j?"

Anonymous said...

Yes, don't get drunk at the Smoker. I fucked a on-campus interview that way. I had a great interview and they invited me to their table. I got a bit tipsy and met someone at the table of a department who hadn't been at my interview and I did not impress. I found out later he judged I was not a serious philosopher on that meeting.

Anonymous said...

On 5- what if you're drunk most of the time anyway, and so are worried that if you're not at least a bit drunk you'll not seem normal, or maybe get the shakes? Now doesn't seem like a good time to quit to me.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:56
I'd say drink up in that case! Going on job interviews is no time to give up your vices. After quitting for 6 years, I smoked like a chimney both years on the job market and oh yes all the way towards getting tenure too..
cheers
p.s. don't smoke on your on-campus interview though -- wait until you've been dropped off for the evening or until a member of the faculty gives you one.

PA said...

As a job candidate, the only way I survived the Smoker was through drunkenness. Of course, I had hardly any APA interviews to fuck up in the first place.

Anonymous said...

The fact that people need to be told #5 is a sign of Doom. Get the tag out.

Doug Portmore said...

Regarding point 1, I agree that candidates should be themselves, because, as you rightly point out, "attempts to chisel yourself into what you think the committee wants almost always backfire." This is often because candidates are not in a good position to know what is wanted. Candidates pretty much have nothing but the job ads to go by, but ads are written by committees with the desire to get funding for a position. So sometimes the ads are written to placate the administration or certain minority views of the faculty. Thus, they don't always give an accurate picture of what the interviewing team wants.

So I agree that candidates should be themselves. But I don't know about this: "Your task is not simply to get the job you’re interviewing for, it’s to find a suitable place to begin your career." If it was a foregone conclusion that one's career is going to have a beginning, then this would be true. But I bet that many candidates fear that their careers may never even begin. That is, they fear that they won't get any job this year and that if they don't get any job this year, there is even less of a chance that they'll get some job next year and so on. This was my fear starting out. Indeed, it came very close to happening.

So you ask, "Why would you want to be hired by a department that thinks you're something you're not?"

The natural answer might be that it's better to get hired by a department that thinks you're something that you're not than it is not to get hired by any department at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm a drunken gossipy liar. Should I still follow tip #1?

Spiros said...

Anon 3:39 wins the thread.

Anonymous said...

re 1: You might "want to be hired by a department that thinks you're something you're not" because you are pretty sure it would involve getting hired by a philosophy department. And that typically comes with perks like money and health insurance and not working at Target late at night.

Anonymous said...

Why would you want to be hired by a department that thinks you're something you're not?

Because that might be the only job you get over the course of five years.

I have yet to meet a tenured or tenure-track faculty member whom I think understands how bad the job market is.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the third point. If you know all about the department, then you won't need to ask any questions. Asking questions seems to reveal, therefore, that you've not done your homework.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand 7:37am. Surely, philosophy teaches us that the more we study something, the more questions emerge.

Anonymous said...

I would find it helpful to see some examples of questions that candidates should ask at interviews. I've never been able to think of any. The questions that occur to me tend to fall into the following categories:

1. Questions that would only be relevant if I were offered the job, and which it would therefore be presumptuous to ask at the interview, e.g. "Where will my office be?"

2. Questions that I could easily answer for myself by researching on the web, e.g. "Do you offer any courses in medieval logic?"

3. Questions that aren't really questions but just attempts at selling myself, e.g. "Do your students come from diverse backgrounds? Diversity is very important to me."

Kenny said...

Some questions that might be useful, which you can't really answer from the website:

Do students/faculty from [other nearby university] come to classes/talks/socialize here?

How has the department been dealing with budget cuts from the university - or is the university supporting the philosophy department?

Do people often co-teach classes?

If you find someone interesting on the university website in another department, you might ask if they do much interdisciplinary work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for those suggestions, Kenny.

To be honest, I don't see the point of asking any of those questions at the interview. The answers might make some small difference to whether I would accept the job if it were offered to me. But I can ask them later if need be. Why do I need to know the answers at the interview?

Or is the idea that I should ask these questions, not to find out the answer, but for some other purpose, e.g. to demonstrate how interested I am in the job? Surely there are better ways to demonstrate this, e.g. by the answers I give to their questions.

Anonymous said...

3:03-- good strategy. It will serve you well over several years on the market....

Anonymous said...

My impression has been that giving the candidate an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview is a mere courtesy to the candidate. It is not expected that they will ask questions, and it certainly wouldn't count against them if they declined to ask any. Those of my colleagues who I've consulted share this impression. But I do work in the UK. Could this be another American vs British thing?

Anonymous said...

I have been on a number of SCs for research schools. I always prefer it when candidates don't waste everyone's time by asking bullshit questions at the end of the interview. It's a courtesy asked by the SC just in case there is something the candidate really has a question, but that's all. At the end of my interviews, when I was on the market, I didn't ask the SCs any questions. Instead, I smiled politely and said "if I am fortunate enough to be invited on campus to interview, I'll probably have plenty of questions, but at this point in the process, I don't have any further questions for you". It didn't hurt my candidacy at all to say that. In fact, they seemed to appreciate a professional but not kiss-ass answer.

CTS said...

So, back to my-now-standard 'have some questions' position:

1) think, folks. You will see some interesting hints on a website or in the College Board info. Does the institution have an astonishing retention rate? Ask them if they know what accounts for that. They might not, but they will be pleased to talk about what a great school it is. (NB: not every program sees itself as an island.) They had a big uptick in majors two years ago; do they know why? They recently changed the curriculum (undergrad or grad); what prompted them to do that, and do they think it s working out well?

2) We DO take it seriously if candidates cannot ask us anything. It suggests that they either did no research or are completely focused n themselves. Again, my first position was at a very highly rated (R1) place. They told me after I was hired that my having some interesting questions about the school and their program made the difference.

3) Yes, it makes for more work. But you only do this for places that want to interview you. Further, it actually has a very nice psychological effect: it gives you a break from wondering how you will do.

An addition to the 5 instructions: Do not tell the SC how you are better than anyone at their institution, in or out of their department.

teacher interview questions said...

If a job candidate manages get a job interview, it indicates that the company has at least some attention. Generally, an candidate reacts to an offered job starting, offering a application and other expected components. The company checks all obtained applications, and chooses who should be welcomed back for an interview. In some situations, an initial interview may be presented on the phone call, to save time and resources.

Income Protection said...

Job seekers should heed these tips.