Reflections On Me

As you may remember from my last post a few weeks ago (sorry for the long wait) I had a few interviews last week.  After I wrote that post I got invited to another interview, as well, so I had three interviews in a three-day period.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous and excited at the same time.  I was also rather chuffed to even be getting these interviews without having submitted my PhD yet.

interview

The good news is one of them turned into a job for next year! It’s only a part-time, one year (well, nine months) post, but it’s better than just running seminars for another year.  This helps improve the CV, gives me experience running my own course, giving lectures and actually writing/marking exams.  It’s also based at my current home institution, so I already know most of the staff and how things work should I run into any difficulties.  I also really like the subject area, which makes everything even better.  Of the three positions for which I interviewed it probably was the best suited to my current situation.

Which isn’t to say the other two posts wouldn’t have been good had I been offered them, but they would have entailed entirely different sorts of challenges.  My second interview was for a different, full-time position at my home university.  It would have been lecturing on two first-year core modules, one that will be going into its third year and is still working out all of the kinks.  Seeing as how I haven’t taught on either of the modules previously I would have had a lot of catching up to do.  They’re also large survey courses, covering concepts from early modern to contemporary history.  That’s a rather broad range to have a good grasp on.  The third interview was for a full-time lectureship at a university in Scotland, also based around my historical speciality in terms of time frame.  Had I been offered the position it would have, of course, entailed moving up to Scotland, only a year removed from moving to my current home.  It would have been a big adjustment.

Looking back on the entire process, though, I’m glad I had a chance to go through it.  Each interview was slightly different and asked different things of me.  They all asked about my teaching philosophy and style, whilst the first focused on how to deal with problematic students in class and what I could add to an existing course.  The second entailed defining a few key terms (which I don’t think I did very well) and how I would handle researching along with a full teaching load.

The third was perhaps the most informative, though.  As it was for a permanent post, not just a one-year fellowship, it was the most intensive.  I had to give a presentation about my current and future research and about courses I would bring to the institution.  That was in front of the departmental staff, so about eight to ten people.  After a few hours break where I got to walk around campus I then interviewed in front of a panel of six people, two of whom were from outside of the department and one who was the ‘moderator’.  They asked many of the ‘standard’ academic questions — why is my research important? what does it add to the field? what sort of impact can my research have? how would I fit into the university?, etc.  Some I answered well (I think), others I didn’t.  As I didn’t get the post I obviously didn’t answer enough of them well, which is fine.  I’m sure whoever did get the post will do a great job.  The feedback the department head gave me afterwards was quite useful, too.  He said that I didn’t do anything ‘wrong’, but at the interview stage it’s more about finding who is ‘most right’ for the university.  And he gave me some tips on how I can make the next interview even better.  I thought that was very nice.

I went into that interview not really knowing what to expect.  I hadn’t had an academic interview for a permanent post before, I didn’t know much about the school or the people and I wasn’t sure what I would get asked.  Having now gone through the experience, I can prepare for the next interview (hopefully for next year).  I’m guessing I shouldn’t say things like this comic.

dilbert-interview

 

In the meantime, I have a PhD to write and then lectures to prepare.  As such, I probably won’t be blogging much in the next few weeks.  Thanks for reading, and I’ll hopefully see you all again once term starts and I’ve submitted!

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