During the period I was on the job market as a graduate student, from roughly 1985 to 1988, I compiled a list of every job interview question I got asked. I applied to jobs in American Studies (my Ph.D. field) and History as well as Architectural History and Urban History—about 140 jobs in all. Because I was so ill prepared for the job market—when I began I didn’t have a single publication and had never given a conference paper—my efforts did not initially generate offers and I had to figure out some way to keep my spirits up. I collected these questions as a kind of meditative exercise. It was my attempt to counteract the stress, discouragement, and bruising I experienced on the market by generating a resource that might prove helpful to other graduate students and assistant professors who found themselves in a similar predicament to mine—having to learn what constituted a competitive set of credentials and an effective interview technique on my own.
I hope you will find my Academic Job Interview Questions helpful. I have served on several search committees as a faculty member and these questions seem to hold up quite well. There are a few new ones I’ve encountered, however, such as the first question one of my committees asked of every candidate interviewed: “Tell us a little about yourself” (turned out to be a “give ‘em enough rope that they can hang themselves kind of question”) and the more robust “How does your research inform your teaching?” In future posts I’ll supplement these questions, but I believe them to be a sound guide for interdisciplinary humanities positions, as is. I invite you to add to the list through the comments function. And good luck getting interviews this year!
Dr. Mary Corbin Sies