Every year, numerous graduate students and postdocs apply for academic faculty jobs in hopes of securing an on-campus panel interview. After being selected as a candidate, you must convince a panel of established professors that you have what it takes to lead a research project, teach various courses and add value to the university.
To provide guidance to first-time candidates, Chemical & Engineering News magazine asked faculty members at large research universities to share their advice based on stories about memorable interviews. Based on this study, here are three pieces of advice shared in an eBook entitled “10 Tips to Help You Get a Faculty Job.”
Use all available resources: A candidate’s academic mentor is often a great source of finding open positions in line with one’s research interest. A common mistake made by students and postdocs, however, is assuming that their mentors can get them a job, points out Peter J. Stang, organic chemistry professor at the University of Utah. “A mentor can open doors, but the candidate must get the job,” he says.
Spend time learning about the faculty and the university: Aside from simply knowing where you are, doing your homework on the faculty can come in handy. According to Alan G. Marshall, chemistry and biochemistry professor at Florida State University, the most renowned organic chemist in the department asked a candidate to justify the feasibility of one of the reactions in his proposal. “Without missing a beat, the candidate cited one of the faculty member’s own publications as the rationale,” he says.
Keep your presentation on target and time: Aside from the standard presentation tips of not packing slides with lots of words and then reading them to the audience, many of the faculty contacted by C&EN stressed the importance of not running long during presentations. Chemistry professor emeritus at Boston University Morton Z. Hoffman says, “If your seminar is scheduled for a one-hour slot, plan your presentation for 45 minutes to allow for the fact that you are apt to be interrupted by questions and to leave plenty of time for discussion.” He adds that “it’s bad form to push the schedule so no one can ask questions,” because the interviewing faculty might wonder if that was done deliberately.