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Author Topic: tips on interviewing at your alma mater  (Read 5000 times)
newtosearch
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« on: April 16, 2012, 1:35:24 PM »

Hello-
A newbie here!  A friend told me about these boards and the information has been amazing!  I am currently happily employed; however, a position recently opened at my alma mater and I was asked by the search chair to apply.  I made the first cut and have a phone interview.  I found out that I know every single member of the search committee and they know me (and the search chair is my PhD advisor).  My question(s) for the group:

How does one approach this type of interview (close ties with the school and search committee)?  Different than any other academic interview?  Does the committee evaluate prior PhD students differently than 'unknown' candidates?

Would love to hear experiences and tips on an interview of this nature.

Thank You-
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macadamia
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« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2012, 2:12:52 PM »

Be extra-professional. Do not assume that you know who will be on your side.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 6:08:13 PM »

Make sure to be clear in your mind that you are a potential colleague, not a student.  You may have great memories of student things, but people want to hire a faculty member.  When in doubt, err on being a bit formal and speak from your faculty experiences.
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I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
larryc
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Be excellent to each other.


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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2012, 8:19:01 PM »

Yes and yes to the above. Interview just as you would for a position anywhere else. Don't act like you have an inside track--you don't, and any trace of an attitude that you do could sink your candidacy. Keep in mind too that at least some faculty members, even if they like you very much, will be dead set against hiring a graduate of their own program on general principles.

This is a very difficult line to walk, be careful and good luck.
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Trolling for sex is not what this forum is all about.
westcoastgirl
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2012, 10:28:57 PM »

Were you in coursework with any of the current grad students? If so, take extra precautions with them. Don't assume you have close ties with anyone.

Two years ago, our department ran a search and someone who had been in coursework with many of us was shortlisted. His candidacy was pretty much doomed from the beginning because of the way he was perceived by many of the grad students (and the faculty as well). All things considered, he was probably plenty qualified, but the fact that he had been a student here (and a recent one at that) worked against him in every way.

Call it envy, call it the hard truth, whatever, but it wasn't pretty.
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copper
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Suckin' it up like Buttercup.


« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2012, 10:43:27 PM »

Oh.

I just noticed you meant your Ph.D. alma mater. (I think of "alma mater" as just referring to undergrad.)

So maybe my advice doesn't apply.  But maybe it does, so here goes....

Please, please, please do not identify all the places you had sex when you were an undergraduate here.  We really don't want to know.

That probably goes along with "be extra-professional."

--Cu
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"The most exciting things in life require more courage than we currently have." -- Jack McPhee, or whoever wrote the 4th season of Dawson's.
newtosearch
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« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 10:45:06 PM »

Thanks all for the tips.  Yes, I should have clarified my PhD alma mater.  Everything was pretty much along the lines of what I was thinking.  Be super professional and take nothing for granted.  I graduated over 5 years ago, so none of my classmates are still students.  Actually, at least one of my classmates is a professor in the same department (different field).  I am nervous.  I want this more than I am letting on to anyone (even myself).

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chroniclerony
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2012, 10:07:54 PM »

 .
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bcohlan1
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2012, 10:20:50 PM »

Please, please, please do not identify all the places you had sex when you were an undergraduate here.  We really don't want to know.

That probably goes along with "be extra-professional."
--Cu

Wait, does this mean that when I visit places that aren't my alma mater I shouldn't be pointing out places where I anticipate having sex, if selected?
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2012, 8:19:30 AM »

Please, please, please do not identify all the places you had sex when you were an undergraduate here.  We really don't want to know.

That probably goes along with "be extra-professional."
--Cu

Wait, does this mean that when I visit places that aren't my alma mater I shouldn't be pointing out places where I anticipate having sex, if selected?

Depends.  How hot is the person giving you the tour?
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I've joined a bizarre cult called JordanCanonicalForm's Witnesses.  I have to go from door to door asking people things like, "Good evening, sir!  Do you have a moment to chat about Linear Transformations?"
weathered
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« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2012, 9:56:53 PM »

How often does it happen that your advisor is search committee and chair of department? Is this a fair search?
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stanwyck
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« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2012, 10:16:33 PM »

Well, I did this, and it was a disaster. I hadn't realized I would know everyone on the committee until they introduced themselves during the phone interview. I wouldn't classify my reaction as a panic attack, but it was close--it suddenly occurred to me that if I screwed up the interview, I would be disgracing the program AND all their best efforts at mentoring me. So...I screwed up the interview. I couldn't even catch my breath, much less answer the questions.

So, my best advice--do whatever it is you need to do to lose your nervousness. If you're nervous now, it may get worse. Figure out a coping strategy.

I didn't want that job anyway. Really. I didn't.
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