15 February 2013 - 10:07 am

Academic Interviews

Job interviews can be quite nerve-wracking, specially if the market is as competitive as in the UK. To learn how to sell yourself better in an interview can help you to surpass other candidates. So, I decided to attend a seminar held by the English School’s Graduate-Staff Student Committee on how to prepare for an academic interview. The most helpful thing I learned was that the panel is looking for a colleague and invites candidates to know more about them and their research and not to crush their dreams! I guess interviews are not that scary, after all. Here are some pointers and tips I learned that might also help you get your dream job:Application:

  • do look at job descriptions, so that you know what you need to present or talk about
  • provide sufficient details about what you have done and don’t assume prior knowledge on part of the panel
  • do not lie on application
  • do not panic if your CV is weak, because you can compensate for it by showing willingness to cooperate and do well.

Preparation for interview:

  • look again at the essential criteria and expect you might get questioned on them
  • find out who is on the panel but do not obsess about it
  • if asked to give presentation, make sure you know what is required and what you are supposed to present on
  • ask someone for pointers
  • consider to ask for ‘reasonable adjustment’
  • turn up on time

The receptionist might have as much say in you getting your job as the person interviewing you

Behavior on the day

  • you are being assessed for the whole day, not just during the interview, so mind your behavior even while having chats during lunch
  • it is not just the panel you need to impress, be courteous to all the staff
  • be friendly to other candidates, but do not help them
  • avoid being over-awed by other candidates, be careful about the conversations you enter
  • do not give up because you think other candidates are better than you
  • listen to the questions before answering and do not interrupt the person asking the question
  • do not answer questions with questions
  • even if you know the panel, make sure you answer questions in full
  •  have a question or two ready to ask
  • it is good to ask for feedback after your interview

The Basics:

  • do not make the panel uncomfortable
  • be careful about assuming who is the most important one on panel
  • answer questions in more than three words, but do not talk too much
  • keep your mind on what is required

Some questions you might get asked:

  • why do you want this job?
  • what would you bring to this post?
  • what will your research bring to the department?
  • how will you collaborate with others?
  • what are your future research plans?
  • what is your teaching/assessment method?
  • how do you ensure all students are engaged in learning?

And last but not least, it is very important to show that you are aware of the importance of knowledge exchange and public engagement in academic researches and that you have some experience, or at least future plans, in the field.


Thanks to mikecogh for the use of his image


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  • About the author

    Yalda Yousefi

    Hi! I'm Yalda, one of the postgraduate interns at USE, and I'm doing a PhD in English Literature. Prior to starting my studies in the University of Sheffield, I taught English modules and did some administrative work. I enjoy walking - be it in town or at the peaks - specially when I have good company.