Advice on the Academic Job Search

This is the time of year when many advanced PhD students, recent PhDs and postdocs are in the midst of applying for academic jobs.  The search process for a faculty position is spread over several months and the interviews themselves are 1-3 days long.   In addition to being a scholar with an exciting research project and strong teaching experience another tool to have in your toolkit is good information.  At one of our recent Faculty Conversations, Professor Susan Margulies, SEAS, encouraged those on the job market to look at these resources:

  • The University of Michigan Handbook for Faculty Searches and Hiring which includes a Candidate Evaluation Sheet.  It gives a sense of the kinds of questions candidates may be asked.
  • Stanford University’s Dual-Career Resources can help “complex” hires, meaning those who have a significant other with job/career issues that may affect the candidate’s decision making.

Additional resources on work-life balance and dual career couples can be found on the Career Services website at

Other advice from Professor Margulies and Professor Justin DiAngelo, Hofstra University to keep in mind:

  • Candidates should look up those who will interview them and know something about them.
  • When you give your seminar or job talk, know your audience.  At a teaching-focused institution it may not include people in your field because there isn’t anyone in your field there.
  • Keep in mind that everyone you meet at the interview, including students and the person who walks you from one place to the next, matters.  Their input on your candidacy will be sought.
  • As you put together your start-up request, think about what you’ll need for 3-5 years.
  • When the interview is over, make sure you know the next steps.  If no one tells you, ask.
  • Negotiating offers usually takes place over the phone.

Students and postdocs who are preparing to interview for faculty positions are encouraged to talk with a graduate/postdoc career advisor and schedule a mock interview.  Career advisors can also be a resource for negotiating offers.

Author: Julie Miller Vick

Julie Miller Vick is the Senior Associate Director in Career Services for graduate students and post docs.