Dr. Maya L. Rosen

Dr. Maya L. Rosen

31-08-2021

23:20

🧵 on TT faculty Zoom interviews: With delta on the rise, I assume that at least some colleges and universities will end up doing virtual full faculty interviews. Here’s my experience on the 2020-21 job market with some tips about how to navigate doing full-day interviews online

Most institutions did first round interviews via phone or Zoom even before the pandemic. @laurel_joy_gd has an amazing resource on navigating those:

Here I’m talking about doing your ENTIRE interview on Zoom because of a global pandemic (or some other future reason)

First some context: In the 2020-21 job cycle, I completed 4 TT interviews at both R1 and SLAC institutions. I had to cancel another one other to accept my position at Smith, but also have a sense of what that *would* have been like based on info provided by the search committee.

All required a research job talk on Day 1. The 4 I did were live followed by Q&A, the 1 I didn’t end up doing was to be pre-recorded plus would include a live journal club about one of my papers. At the SLAC, I did a teaching talk too. Didn’t have any chalk talks (phew, I think?)

Interviews varied from 1 to 3 days. the 1-day one was VERY intense 9 am -7 pm. The 2-day ones felt pretty comfortable. Mostly 9-3 or 4. The 3-day one made it hard for me to keep boundaries btwn regular work and the interview.

Bright side: there are some advantages to interviewing on zoom! 1) the comfort of your own home, 2) access to all your favorite snacks, 3) get to sleep in your own bed, 4) don’t have to fly all around the country

Disadvantages: 1) It’s hard to get to know a place / imagine yourself for the long-term if you’ve never been there before. 2) It’s easy to let regular work seep into interview time and interviews seep into regular work time bc your context hasn’t changed.

Disadvantages (cont’d) 3) No opportunity for casual interactions with faculty / students. All interactions are relatively formal. 4) Relatedly, it’s more difficult to assess internal dynamics of the department when you don’t see others interact casually.

Some practical tips: 1) take advantage of advantages listed above! Enjoy your space and every-day comforts! If you have a pet, pet them regularly between meetings! If you live with someone you love, get regular hugs and words of encouragement!

2) advocate for yourself. Look at your schedule and make sure the committee has scheduled breaks for you to go to the bathroom, eat etc. If you can get them to spread it over 2 days (rather than 1 or 3) I’d recommend it.

3) Ask friends to zoom with you to make sure your lighting and sound are good. And if you can swing it: get a good microphone. I used this one.

4) To make sure I had good energy in my virtual talk: I listened to some pump up music immediately before and did some jumping jacks. Also pinned video of someone from the search committee who I connected with and I thought would give me positive facial feedback / nod with me.

5) Related to energy, I had lots of good snacks at my desk that I could eat between meetings. And lots of water.

6) For a teaching talk / sample class: take advantage of features of Zoom (e.g. use polls, have students draw on your screen to predict what a graph will look like) and the fact that you have students names right in front of you so can use their names when you talk to them!

7) Practice the teaching talk with colleagues / friends and especially any undergrads in your lab to make sure the level of engagement / content is hitting at the right level.

8) Meetings with faculty varied lots. Sometimes I met one-on-one, sometimes with 2-3 other faculty. Regardless, I did my research about their research / recent papers and asked questions both focused on the college/university and their research

9) Because you’re not able to visit in person, it’s really important to ask lots of questions about dept culture, what it’s like to live there, anything else that is important to making your life work there. Ask what a typical faculty meeting is like. It’s a telling question.

10) If it is not offered to you, ask for a virtual tour of the building, your potential lab space / comparable lab space. This was offered to me at all the places I interviewed, but in case it’s not ask for it!

11) Ask faculty in a similar life stage as you important life questions, if you feel comfortable (important caveat). Eg. if you care about schools, parental leave, ask about those things to people who might have relevant answers (e.g. someone who discloses they have kids)

12) Ask junior faculty about how the department, college, university supported their transition. You’ll get both concrete (e.g. internal funding opportunities, mentorship programs, course reduction, sabbatical etc.) and abstract (general vibe of support) answers.

13) Ask both junior and senior faculty about how the dept has changed, where its values lie, and where they see it going over the next 5-10 years.

14) another advantage: you can have notes in front of you for meetings with faculty. I looked over my notes for each person before I jumped into the meeting, but if I lost where I was, I could always glance at them. Also kept a running list of general questions to ask.

15) Meetings with students are telling and fun. These are important and not to be disregarded. Ask about their research, what they like about the department, what they want to see improve, what they are looking for in this new hire etc. Engage with them and you’ll learn a lot!

16) If you have to schedule more than one interview in a week, make sure you give yourself at least a day in between to rest. I did this, but still nearly collapsed at the end of the week. If at all possible, do just 1 per week!

17) Treat your work as if you are truly out of the office. Put an away message on your email, don’t check Slack. Set expectations with your mentees / mentors that you will not be available.

For more general tips about the interview process and negotiations (a whole other beast), @thetruedrdoom has an excellent blog post that helped me so much (thank you, Jena!)

All in all, there are pros and cons to doing virtual interviews. I hope these tips are helpful and I am rooting for you all! Happy to answer any questions as you navigate this process!


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