I’ve been lucky enough (skilled enough? able to sell myself enough?) to be called in to interview for a few fellowships next week. One is a full-time position teaching a few core first-year modules, the other is a half-time teaching an optional second-year module. Both require giving lectures and running seminars, writing and marking exam scripts and other administrative duties. Both would obviously be a good first step towards achieving a permanent position somewhere as they would help boost the CV. They would also be good experiences in general, as I’ve run seminars and gave one guest lecture, but not run a course on my own.
I think my chances for either are good — I’m already in the department, I know a lot of the material in all the modules being offered and I have teaching experience. My expertise lies more with the second-year optional module, but I’d like to think I know enough about the core modules that I could still take that position (should it be offered) with no problems. It’s just a matter of making it through the interview.
I’ve had interviews before; I’ve even given interviews as a manager at an old company. But it’s been a while since I’ve been interviewed. I technically had one for a part-time holiday position, but that was very informal and it felt more like a conversation than ‘interview’. The store manager wasn’t even the one interviewing me, just two of the assistant managers. The last proper interview I had was about four years ago when I got promoted to that manager position. That’s a long time to go without practising those skills. And yes, interviewing is a skill that needs practice. Also, I’ve never had an academic interview, so I don’t know how different it is (or will be) to the corporate world. I suppose the upgrade process was kind of an interview, though I don’t think it’s quite the same process.
In my first two years of my PhD my department hired new staff for permanent positions, and they all had to give 30 minute presentations about their past and future teaching/research goals. I went to some of those, and they were very informative in terms of what to do (and not to do) in highlighting certain achievements. After the presentation there was a brief Q&A session where the applicants fielded questions from the audience — I suppose that’s a bit similar to conference questions. But then they also had closed-door interviews, which I think made the biggest impression on the Head of Department (and anyone else in the interview). I don’t have to give the 30 minute presentation, as the fellowships are one year contracts, but I do have to be in the interview.
I do know I have to talk about my teaching style and philosophy, but other than that I’m not sure what to expect. I’m not even sure how many people will be conducting the interview, to be honest. I don’t think I’ll be asked about my research goals over the next few years (hello, finish my PhD and try to get it published, maybe an article or two out of it!) as these are strictly teaching positions, but you never know. Even if I am asked, I do have a few research goals in mind so I won’t be left completely stuck.
It’s exciting to get to this stage. It’s also a bit terrifying, as so much is unknown. I know there are lots of interview tips out there, and I’ll be sure to read many of them. I might even ask my partner to help with a mock interview so I get used to answering questions again. I’m looking forward to the opportunity and hope I can get one of the positions. It’d be nice to be offered both then have to decide, but I don’t want to get my hopes/expectations up too much.