On-Campus Interviews

Here are a list of things that I would like to do for candidates who come to my school for an on-campus interview:

  1. Have time to speak to each faculty member one-on-one or in pairs.
  2. Speak with the Dean.
  3. Have lunch with our students.
  4. Give a talk.
  5. Ride our bus system (mainly to see how remarkably polite our students are when riding the bus).
  6. Take a tour of campus.
  7. Take a tour though the surrounding city.
  8. Eat dinner with selected faculty at restaurant or faculty member’s house.

I am not particularly excited about seeing a candidate teach a class of actual students. For one, this is always awkward—teaching is built on relationships, and it is difficult to teach without knowing your students. At best, this seems like a poor indicator of how the candidate would perform on the first day of each semester. (this also seems to suggest that the candidate should lecture, since it would just be weird to watch a candidate do group work or create inverted classroom when the students are not necessarily expecting it).

What am I missing? What else is useful for a candidate to do and/or see on an on-campus interview?

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6 Responses to “On-Campus Interviews”

  1. Erica Says:

    I totally agree with you about the non-usefulness of teaching demonstrations. Good call. (Do your colleagues agree?)

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Thankfully, my colleagues agree. We have the candidates give a research talk that is intended for undergraduates, which is extremely appropriate. But no weird teaching situations.
      Bret

  2. Adam Glesser Says:

    Most of our hiring is adjunct faculty; a research lecture would be out of the question for many of them. During the teaching lectures, we usually have them lecture on something remedial from algebra—say the quadratic formula—and while this will not usually differentiate between two solid candidates, it does help us weed out under-qualified applicants, e.g., those who don’t understand where the plus/minus comes from.

    When I was interviewed, the faculty met for a department meeting and simply included me in the proceedings. This helped them get a sense of how I would fit into the normal department dynamics.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Hi Adam,

      Thanks for the comment. I have a question: who is the audience for your teaching lectures on the quadratic-formula-type lectures? Is it just faculty, or is it a class of students? I have done it both ways, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

      I think that the idea of holding a departmental meeting is interesting. Did you contribute during the meeting? Did they specifically choose to discuss issues that you would be able to discuss?

      I like it.
      Bret

      • Adam Glesser Says:

        The audience is typically faculty, though we pretend to be students (asking typical naive questions, potentially acting disrespectful, etc.)

        At the department meeting, they talked about some things that did not pertain to me at all and others that didn’t seem to, but which I jumped in and talked about anyway. Other things were specifically geared toward finding out about how things had worked at the other universities I’ve worked. In the end, I think they wanted me to get to the point where I didn’t feel like I was interviewing, but rather was contributing.

      • bretbenesh Says:

        Hi Adam,

        I have been on both sides of the “faculty-pretending-to-be-students” talk. I definitely like it better than working with actual students (the faculty can “adjust” their level of knowledge according to what the talk demands—which is both good and bad—and no students are harmed in the interview process). I think that I still prefer more of a research talk, although I might request that the candidate present in a way that is consistent with a regular class lecture (so s/he should use the chalkboard if that is what s/he normally does).
        Bret

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