Friday, February 13, 2015

Blog CLXX (170): Job Hunting Tips: Be Prepared

What "dos" and "don'ts" would you pass on to a new scholar going out on the job market.  That is a question I asked a number of friends and colleagues.  The response was overwhelming.  Dozens and dozens of people replied.  These comments come from scholars working at community colleges (Lorain County Community College), small liberal arts colleges (Concordia University Wisconsin), regional state schools (Humboldt State University and Texas A&M University—Commerce), and research universities both public (Ohio State and North Carolina) and private (Brigham Young and Vanderbilt).  They are mostly historians working in academic departments, but some teach in professional programs (U.S. Naval War College and the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University).  Click here to see Part 1 entitled "Before Hand." Click here to see Part 2 entitled "The Application."  Click here to see Part 3 entitled "Know Yourself."  Here is part 4 entitled "Be Prepared":
  • Do your homework.—Jason Parker, Department of History, Texas A&M University
  • DO examine the research of the faculty on the search committee and the department (if it a smaller school) before you interview. Knowing how your work connects with theirs is critical.—Mitch Lerner, Department of History, The Ohio State University
  • Do research on the people in the department (or people you expect to be interviewing you) and whenever possible ask them questions about their work. In fact, if you can get them to talk about themselves and then while they talk periodically throw in how what you do supports or rounds out their expertise—then you will be golden.—Vann Mobley, Department of History, Concordia University Wisconsin
  • Don't forget to read up on bios of people you will talk to, so you can seem interested and engaging.— Hal Brands, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
  • Learn as much as possible about the department, university, the local community before being interviewed, especially before an on-campus interview.—T. Michael Parrish, Department of History, Baylor
  • Do familiarize yourself with the university and department website. Bring up unique programs that set the university apart. Show your interest in the academic life of the campus.—Clea Hupp, Department of History, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
  • Do your research—be ready to tell folks how you can fit into their program. Be conversant with who they are and what they do. A candidate who knows about an institution, its faculty, and how they might fit in have a real leg up.—Andrew Wiest, Department of History, University of Southern Mississippi
  • The only absolute "do" that I have for job candidates these days is to prepare thoroughly; emphasis—thoroughly—on any place which you are serious about.  The internet makes it easy to know a great deal about the department and the individuals who are interviewing you.  That still is something which impresses me, when a job candidate knows the strengths of the department, knows about how it advertises its program, and even remembers the current research interests of the faculty members.  This is pretty obvious, but I still see cases where candidates have been less than thorough in their preparation.—Thomas A. Schwartz, Department of History, Vanderbilt University
  • Prepare for the job interview.  Be familiar with the university and the department (and its members) beforehand.  Expect the questions that may come your way, and prepare an intelligent response.  Be on your best behavior.  Avoid arguments.  Welcome dissenting points of view.—Steven Reiss, Department of History, Northeastern Illinois University

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