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How to be an Academic Superhero

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay

In universities across the world, academics struggle to establish and sustain their careers while satisfying intensifying institutional demands. Drawing from the author’s decades of observation and experience in academia, this exceptional book responds to the challenges of fostering and sustaining a successful academic career.
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Chapter 14: Perform well at job interviews

Establishing and Sustaining a Successful Career in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities

Iain Hay


There is a good chance your comprehensive and beautifully written job application will advance you to the next stage of the selection process – the interview. While these are occasionally conducted electronically (e.g., phone conference, Skype), most continue to be run as face-to-face meetings over a period of one to three days. Depending on the level of the position, they typically involve a spoken presentation to relevant staff; meetings with students, colleagues and other stakeholders; a tour of the campus; dinner with prospective colleagues; and, of course, a formal interview.1 The job interview experience can be exhausting, as well as informative, providing fascinating insights into the detailed workings of another institution and to the characters of some of your colleagues.

Before your interview and campus visit, find out about the department and university. Who are the academic staff? What do they do? What is taught? What kind of research is pursued? As Wilbur (2006, pp. 129–30) observes:

[a] bit of recognition will flatter your hosts, reveal your awareness of the profession at large, and demonstrate that you are serious about the position. A review of the department’s course listings tells about the interests of the faculty and gives you a preview of the character and balance of the department. Such a preview may provide you with questions that you need to ask in order to evaluate the department as a potential home. Prior knowledge demonstrates your sincerity and depth of interest.

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