A faculty position interview

I have been in several faculty position interviews in Mechanical Engineering department this semester. I think one of them is very good at presenting himself for this interview. Now I’m writing it down share it with you all.

He started with his past and present research. When introducing the research, he mentioned the funding agencies, his lab, and his past students. When he introduced his past students, he mentioned how many of them are faculty members at the United States. (He is from Europe.) Then he talked about his future research topics. Until this point, it seems normal. But then he talked about the causes he taught and the courses at Virginia Tech that he can teach. Moreover, he proposed some new courses that he can be added to the current curriculum for mechanical students at Virginia Tech. After the showcase of his teaching ability, he started talking about the potential funding opportunities at a national level. He also mentioned the potential collaboration opportunities with faculty at Virginia Tech.

This is a good example that shows a faculty’s duties. A professor at a research university usually has teaching, research, and outreach (service) duties. When we talk about higher education job market, it seems that we focused too much on education. When newly graduated PhDs go to faculty position interviews, they talked all about their research. That’s kind of ignorance of faculty’s other duties. Many Ph.D. students I know who want to become professors in the future only prepare themselves with ample research capabilities. It’s important that they start to prepare themselves with knowledge and skills in education and outreach.

2 thoughts on “A faculty position interview

  1. alexpfp17 says:

    That’s a good model to base your own interviews upon. I wonder though, at an R1, do they really care about anything other than funding and research? Would they pick the well-rounded guy over the guy who brings in 20% more grants, but sucks at teaching? On the other end, would a SLAC care about a well-rounded researcher, when they could grab a famous teacher? In both cases, hopefully, but I am not sure.

    I always assumed that the interview was mostly to see if they could envision working with you on a daily basis (is this guy crazy or a jerk, or is he a nice guy). Still, it is certainly a good model for the interview. I’ll try to follow it myself. 🙂

  2. dinagadalla says:

    Interesting…this is something that has always got me thinking onto whether faculty are actually carrying out their roles other than research (at least major ones like teaching and service). And how well candidates for a faculty position represent their potential for these roles by only talking about their research in seminars and the like.
    Essentially, potential candidates need to be evaluated for all their roles and not just research.

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