Friday, November 15, 2013

Dr. Amelia's Pro Tips for Job Searchers.

Dear job candidates:

Thank you for your interest in the Hamster Fur Department. We are so pleased to welcome you on campus this week. Here are a few tips for ensuring your success:

1. If we ask you what classes in the major you can teach, don't make up classes that we don't offer and probably won't ever offer. We all have dreams. However, we work in reality.

2. If we ask you about a 5-year research trajectory, it's fine to give broad strokes of the types of questions you are interested in. We're really interested in making sure your ideas are feasible in our environment. If you can't answer that question without referring to "my advisor" in every other sentence, you have a problem.

3. Similarly, if you can't describe your own dissertation to a relatively skilled, experienced and even interested audience, it's a problem.

4. We get it - the interview schedule is packed and you are tired from your trip. If you tell us that more than 4 times in the course of the day, most likely a problem.

5. We asked you if you have special food needs so we could accommodate them. If you said you have no issues, but then proceed to berate the nice student waiting on you for the lack of gluten-free items, you might have a problem.

6. We realize that an interview goes both ways. If we ask you what we can tell you, and you tell us "Well, I haven't really looked at your web site, so I should probably do that first," you might have a problem.

We picked you because we liked, you, kid. Don't make problems for yourself.

Dr. Amelia


  1. Oy! And this is somebody who got past the preliminary-interview stage?!?

    At least I suspect you just made a few job candidates who have done this basic stuff feel a bit better about their prospects (whether that's false hope or not remains to be seen).

  2. I don't understand why any job candidate would ever be anything other than profoundly respectful and polite to servers, student or otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, being rude to a waiter is an automatic "no" vote for me. Being rude to a student waiter is a big fat "NO."

  3. Whoa: sounds like you dodged a bullet by having them at least behave this way up front instead of after the hire.

  4. Wow. I tend to assume people are on their best behavior on an interview visit. Can you imagine what this person(s) worst behavior might be?

  5. Now you see why Skype will never replace face-to-face interviewing.

  6. (A) I am always happy to hear stuff like this, as I have some modicum of common sense, and this makes me feel better about my position in the job market.
    (B) Given the number of anti-social weirdos I met in grad school, all of whom have deluded themselves into thinking a professorial job will be just "reading stuff I want" for a living, this doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Especially since I read these a few years ago:

  7. I'm going on the market this year and this post made me hyperventilate. (But also take its advice. Prepare, prepare, prepare.)

    1. As someone on the job market as well, I find it actually kind of comforting. Because these are easy mistakes to avoid. If the bar is really set that low ...

      Of course, I'm not getting any interviews anyway; I don't have a finished dissertation, am still waiting to hear back from several journals about my articles, and don't have any Ivy League degree. But hey, if I got an interview I wouldn't be THIS bad.