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Author Topic: What I really want to say to applicants  (Read 35487 times)
untenured
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« Reply #150 on: February 18, 2012, 10:14:30 AM »

Barred_owl, would you elaborate?  Do you mean things as basic as teaching vs research oriented or  are you thinking more specific details (think various dept on campus)? You've got me over-thinking and paranoid.

I won't speak for barred_owl, but I would guess this means not asking questions about the institution that can be readily obtained on the school or department website.  You should know whether the school is teaching or research focused, what the faculty do by reading their CVs, some of the school-wide activities, student composition, courses taught, that sort of thing.  It takes time, yes, but a prepared applicant is a good interviewer.
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archaeo42
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« Reply #151 on: February 18, 2012, 10:21:00 AM »

Untenured, thanks.  I do those things but the wording barred_owl used somehow made it sound different from that.
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glowdart
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« Reply #152 on: February 18, 2012, 12:52:54 PM »


Barred_owl, would you elaborate?  Do you mean things as basic as teaching vs research oriented or  are you thinking more specific details (think various dept on campus)? You've got me over-thinking and paranoid.

Likewise offering my own reading of it (based on recent experience), but perhaps not what barred_owl meant:

Your Questions for Us
That "do you have any questions for us" segment is much more important than people realize.

Show us that you've been thinking about the job -- about how the job will operate in the grand scheme of the curriculum, department, and institution. 

Some generic questions are fine, but this is not the time for "tell me about the area."  "Can you describe your students," on the other hand, works well for a starter question at teaching schools, but better yet start with: "You've mentioned that this job will be teaching a lot of upper-level majors courses and then non-majors in gen eds. How would you describe those different populations?"   If you've got a place where there's a grad program, then ask about the differences between the graduate students and the undergrads -- and there will be differences.     

 
Your Answers
Again, this is a place to let that research shine.  If we put "Can you teach Theories of Basketweaving" into our ad, then be ready to discuss Theories of Basketweaving.  No, really.  If it's in the ad, be ready to talk about it. If you can't, then you're toast.  If your approach is diametrically opposed to the rest of our department/curriculum, then you're likely toast, too, but you can't know, predict or control that. 

The candidates who win us over are the ones who can talk about a generic Theories of BW course and then reveal an understanding of the role of that course in a typical curriculum -- even better if you can talk about its role in our curriculum; if there's nothing in the course catalog that will tell you anything about the course, then you can still show that you're thinking like a prof and not a student by asking questions before you start:

"I'd be happy to talk about some approaches for TBW.  Before I start, I see that TBW is a pre-requisite for the BW594; do all majors take that 594 course?"  or "Do all majors take TBW, or is this course designed specifically for the few who are considering graduate school?"  or "I see that you offer a two degrees - one in practical TBW and one theoretical TBW.  Do you offer different sections of TBW or do both populations take the course at the same time?"

Show that you are thinking about the curriculum/class (and thus the job) as a prof -- and then adjust your answer on the fly -- show how you would adapt the generic course to our specific campus.

We're not expecting all candidates to be this involved on all questions; the generic ones are sometimes totally fine if they are well-chosen generic questions; indeed, if we're a teaching school and you don't ask about our students, then that worries us.  But, consider the difference between "tell me about your students" and then a more nuanced version of that question.
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odessa
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« Reply #153 on: February 18, 2012, 1:32:34 PM »


- Courses listed under "courses taught" and then again under "courses developed"


Possible minor highjack ahead.  Glowdart, (or anyone else), could you please explain how the following scenarios would get classified on a CV.

Let's say that I get hired into a department which offers a course in Introduction to Ice Skating.  I start teaching Intro to Ice Skating, using the department designated textbook, basing my course on a sample syllabus, but adding my own assignments and perspectives.   Intro to Ice Skating gets listed as a course I teach.

Now let's say that a course in Ice Skating Methodologies has been on the books, but, frankly, the individual who has taught it in the past is better suited to Intro to Ice Skating, thus the ISM course hasn't really been taught as a methods course.  Indeed, it is only the slightest variation on the Intro course.  As the shiny new faculty member, I'm charged with breathing life into this course.  This involves completely stripping the course down to the ground and rebuilding it.  Is this course development?  I also become the person who teaches the course every year.  How does this get listed?

Last scenario -- Winter U wants to really bulk up its Ice Skating program and, as the newly hired expert, I'm directed to help revamp the curriculum and I take on the responsibility for creating a completely new course, Contemporary Issues in Ice Skating.  I have to design the course and shepherd it through Winter U's new course approval process.  Obviously, I'm developing the course.  I will also teach it.  How does this information get conveyed on my CV?

I have been in all three positions and, upon reading Glowdart's post, realized that I've never distinguished the courses on my CV, simply listing all the courses as ones I have taught.  Depending on the situation, I have sometimes highlighted a developed-from-scratch course in a cover letter or interview.  This approach has worked for me; I've had a couple of successful job searches (and am not on the market now).  However, for those who are in extremely competitive fields where every tiny little detail can become part of the make-or-break process, understanding these distinctions would be helpful; plus, I'm just plain curious!

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glowdart
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« Reply #154 on: February 18, 2012, 2:02:19 PM »

I have been in all three positions and, upon reading Glowdart's post, realized that I've never distinguished the courses on my CV, simply listing all the courses as ones I have taught.  Depending on the situation, I have sometimes highlighted a developed-from-scratch course in a cover letter or interview.  This approach has worked for me; I've had a couple of successful job searches (and am not on the market now).  However, for those who are in extremely competitive fields where every tiny little detail can become part of the make-or-break process, understanding these distinctions would be helpful; plus, I'm just plain curious!

This might just be my particular set of experiences, but we assume that you're developing the courses you teach from scratch or nearly-scratch, since we develop every course we teach, and that's the norm in my discipline and in related ones (people sometimes get pulled onto interdisciplinary SCs here).  There might be departmental learning objectives or expected assignments across all sections of a course, but the rest of it is all you, we assume. 

So, sure, as a new grad student, you might be handed a syllabus and told, "get to it," but our default assumption is that you're developing courses throughout.  But, grad students in our discipline and the related ones always teach more than just that Intro class when in grad school, so even if there's one partially canned class that was handed to you, it's not like that's all you've done.     

I might list the curriculum revamp under service if it goes beyond just adding a new course, but I also would probably just talk about in a cover letter if it's relevant to a particular job. 

(Again, I suspect this doesn't apply to all disciplines; we're not a textbook-throughout-the-curriculum discipline.) 
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barred_owl
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« Reply #155 on: February 18, 2012, 2:44:31 PM »

Barred_owl, would you elaborate?  Do you mean things as basic as teaching vs research oriented or  are you thinking more specific details (think various dept on campus)? You've got me over-thinking and paranoid.

Sure--I think glowdart said it very well, especially this part:

Quote
That "do you have any questions for us" segment is much more important than people realize.


Don't overthink anything Archaeo--just do a little prep before the interview, that's all.  Most of what you'll need to know can be gleaned from the school's website, including estimates of teaching load, research facilities or lack thereof, curriculum, number of students, number of faculty, etc.  Study faculty bios, if they're available, to see who's publishing what and how frequently they're doing so.  That sort of thing.

Our most recent rejectees stumbled during the phone interviews by saying things like:

"I'd really love to develop a Super-Advanced Math-Heavy Senior/Graduate course."   

"How far is it to major research university? I'd like to be able to go there regularly to use their super-dee-duper research facilities." 

"Are any start-up funds available?, because I'd really like to have the world's greatest mousetrap in my research lab, but it's pretty pricey." 

"Are there any upper-level students who might be interested in assisting with my research?"


In a different setting, these questions might go over really well.  But, here's the thing: we're an extremely small, two-year transfer institution with teaching labs but no research lab facilities.  Even five minutes on our campus website would have revealed those conditions.  So the questions tell us that either you don't really want the job in the first case and are deliberately shooting yourself in the foot, or you didn't do your homework about what you'd be getting into (and, therefore, would likely be very discontented here).
 

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cgfunmathguy
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« Reply #156 on: February 18, 2012, 3:16:34 PM »


- Courses listed under "courses taught" and then again under "courses developed"


Possible minor highjack ahead.  Glowdart, (or anyone else), could you please explain how the following scenarios would get classified on a CV.

Let's say that I get hired into a department which offers a course in Introduction to Ice Skating.  I start teaching Intro to Ice Skating, using the department designated textbook, basing my course on a sample syllabus, but adding my own assignments and perspectives.   Intro to Ice Skating gets listed as a course I teach.

Now let's say that a course in Ice Skating Methodologies has been on the books, but, frankly, the individual who has taught it in the past is better suited to Intro to Ice Skating, thus the ISM course hasn't really been taught as a methods course.  Indeed, it is only the slightest variation on the Intro course.  As the shiny new faculty member, I'm charged with breathing life into this course.  This involves completely stripping the course down to the ground and rebuilding it.  Is this course development?  I also become the person who teaches the course every year.  How does this get listed?

Last scenario -- Winter U wants to really bulk up its Ice Skating program and, as the newly hired expert, I'm directed to help revamp the curriculum and I take on the responsibility for creating a completely new course, Contemporary Issues in Ice Skating.  I have to design the course and shepherd it through Winter U's new course approval process.  Obviously, I'm developing the course.  I will also teach it.  How does this information get conveyed on my CV?

I have been in all three positions and, upon reading Glowdart's post, realized that I've never distinguished the courses on my CV, simply listing all the courses as ones I have taught.  Depending on the situation, I have sometimes highlighted a developed-from-scratch course in a cover letter or interview.  This approach has worked for me; I've had a couple of successful job searches (and am not on the market now).  However, for those who are in extremely competitive fields where every tiny little detail can become part of the make-or-break process, understanding these distinctions would be helpful; plus, I'm just plain curious!
I think this is probably very discipline-specific. Assuming that all of these occured at CurrentJob (if something was done in a prior job, the format still transfers), I'd do (and have done in the past) the following:
     1. Under "Courses Taught," I'd list all three courses.
     2. Under the "Teaching Experience" portion of the CV, inside the listing for CurrentJob would be a bullet for "Serving as Course Coordinator for Ice Skating Methodologies since August 2010. Completely revamped and updated the curriculum to better align the course with current methodologies and practices."
     3. A second bullet (it should probably go ahead of the "ISM" bullet) would be "Developed a new course in Contemporary Issues in Ice Skating and shephered the course through the University's approval process with final approval received in March 2009. Serving as course coordinator for the five sections taught per semester since the inception of the course."

Make it short, sweet, and to the point about what you accomplished. What's hidden in these bullets are the facts that you:
     A. Can negotiate the minefield that department politics by revising a curriculum for an already-established course.
     B. Can negotiate the no-man's-land that is the University's curriculum approval process.
     C. Understand how the curriculum approval process works (in general) and understand and appreciate how the work of the cognizant committees gets done, even if you've never served on such a committee.
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lotsoquestions
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« Reply #157 on: February 18, 2012, 3:28:37 PM »

When someone asks you during the interview if you've ever thought about the race and gender implications of your research, the correct answer is not "No.  I'm not interested in these issues." 

We were giving you an opening to show that you realize the school you're interviewing at is fairly diverse, that students may want to think about things like race and gender implications of people's research and that presumably you're both sensitive to and interested in those things as part of your own research. 

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odessa
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« Reply #158 on: February 18, 2012, 4:06:29 PM »

Glowdart and Cgfunmathguy, thank you for your responses.  Naturally, there is discipline-specificity involved.  Also, after writing my post, I realized how much my experiences have been institutionally specific too.

For example, my first time out of the gate as an instructor-of-record for a course in grad school, I was handed the course learning objectives and it was suggested to me that I speak with others who (had) taught the course to get textbook, assignment and things-I-should-know recommendations, but I wasn't obligated to any given approach.   On the other hand, years later, as an experienced professor, I moved to a new institution where I was expected to teach certain courses in an almost "course in a box" type manner as prescribed by the department.  I've also had experiences in-between these two, plus scenarios #2 and #3 which I mentioned in my post.

I think this is probably very discipline-specific. Assuming that all of these occured at CurrentJob (if something was done in a prior job, the format still transfers), I'd do (and have done in the past) the following:
     1. Under "Courses Taught," I'd list all three courses.
     2. Under the "Teaching Experience" portion of the CV, inside the listing for CurrentJob would be a bullet for "Serving as Course Coordinator for Ice Skating Methodologies since August 2010. Completely revamped and updated the curriculum to better align the course with current methodologies and practices."
     3. A second bullet (it should probably go ahead of the "ISM" bullet) would be "Developed a new course in Contemporary Issues in Ice Skating and shephered the course through the University's approval process with final approval received in March 2009. Serving as course coordinator for the five sections taught per semester since the inception of the course."

Make it short, sweet, and to the point about what you accomplished. What's hidden in these bullets are the facts that you:
     A. Can negotiate the minefield that department politics by revising a curriculum for an already-established course.
     B. Can negotiate the no-man's-land that is the University's curriculum approval process.
     C. Understand how the curriculum approval process works (in general) and understand and appreciate how the work of the cognizant committees gets done, even if you've never served on such a committee.

CGF, thank you for the suggested formatting.  The next time I revamp my CV (it's due for an updating and overhaul), I'll keep this in mind.  Also, the points you make about the hidden message - the part of your message I bolded - is, of course, very, very important.  This is an excellent reminder to job-searchers; it's not just about one's area of expertise, classroom experience and publishing record, but also knowing how the game of academic / departmental / university life is played and demonstrating that you, the job seeker, know how to play the game.

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libwitch
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« Reply #159 on: February 22, 2012, 4:21:25 PM »

I don't think its odd to expect a hand signature - but not necessary anymore,  as much of what is submitted is done through some sort of online system.

But at least make sure the cover letter is made out for the correct school and job - and cover letters are not optional.  We are just concluding a round of searches and there was a quite a few applicants that just didn't bother with a cover letter at all, even though it was specified.
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anisogamy
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« Reply #160 on: February 22, 2012, 11:25:27 PM »

But at least make sure the cover letter is made out for the correct school and job - and cover letters are not optional.  We are just concluding a round of searches and there was a quite a few applicants that just didn't bother with a cover letter at all, even though it was specified.

That's pretty horrifying.  Are these from people who were at least marginally qualified, or from used car salesmen and army vets who fancied a second career as a history prof?
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A little compassion is better than kicking people when they are down, regardless of who has suffered more and longer or whose bad job market has the biggest dick.
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