Sunday, June 13, 2010

Preparing for an Academic Interview

As a postdoc seeking my first 'real' job, an academic interview is a very nerve-wracking thing. Getting the interview is often the biggest hurdle, because it means you've 'made the cut' from the initial stack of applications (which I've heard can range from 100-400 per position here in Canada), through the 'long-list' where they actually consider what your references think about you to the ultimate 'short list' - the interview. Typically, this means your one of about 3 applicants vying for the job. You would think that this is pretty good odds, but twice I've made it this far, only to have the position go to another (likely more suitable) applicant. Maybe in my case, the third times the charm. In reality it means that the other applicants are as good as you are on paper, and your chance to push the tide in your favor is during this interview process. It means physically going to the place where the position is offered, and meeting multiple members of the department and doing the infamous 'job talk' - a one hour presentation on your previous/current research and where you forsee your own independent research going.

In the past, I've had a couple of things that were working against me. My field of research, although a wonderful and exciting topic, doesn't fit well into one specific department, thus I have found myself trying to sell myself and my research as fitting in. This current position is in the one department where my research clearly 'fits'. Check. Also, inexperience in interviewing has been clearly addressed, and now I know what to expect, and hope that this time I can 'nail' it. I also don't feel the desperation that I have felt in the past - I have consciously made the decision that if I am not successful in securing a position this summer, it will likely mean that I am meant to have a position outside of academia, and several other opportunities have already begun to trickle in.  I think honestly I am in my best position currently to put my best foot forward.

That doesn't mean that my nights from here to then will not be sleepless.

No comments: