It's been 2.5 years since my last post. The reason? I thought I'll focus on getting a job (tenure-track position) and then make my next post when I do land one. After 6 interviews in 6 different states over 2 years, I finally accepted a tt position that will start this fall.
For the benefit of anyone who will be applying for a tt position in the future, here is a short list of the most important things I learnt during my tt job search:
- apply very liberally. You never know what will work out and what won't. But don't apply to places you will never go to. Applying takes time. Look online for job postings in several places: job search engines, professional society websites and science journal job sites.
- have an excel file of all the places you are applying to, when reference letters are due, application deadline etc.
- skype/phone interviews: Be well prepared. Read up (online) on what resources the department has, what courses are offered. Have a short pitch ready on what you do and why its important. Finally, they'll ask if you have any questions: always have a couple of good questions ready. It is very important that you nail the skype/phone interview. Very good performance here may influence how they see you in your in-person interview. If its a skype interview with video, dress decently well (perhaps a shirt/sweater), at least from the waist up!
- job talk: you probably know you should practice it several times. But practice not only involves familiarity with all your slides and content, but also how you talk. Have key sentences within your talk that encapsulate why you are uniquely positioned to address your research problems (with an eye towards the big picture...not just your narrow niche). Repeat some of them (with good voice inflection) at several places in you talk.
- during your interview, always keep in mind how big the school is and what resources they have. When they ask what you need to do your research in your lab, don't ask for a half a million dollar piece of equipment if its a smaller school. In rare cases, they may be ok with it, but it is more likely to have an adverse effect on your candidacy.
- even though you have 2 or 3 interviews lined up, keep applying. There is a non-zero chance that all of those interviews won't work out. You may perhaps apply to jobs that more closely match you at this time.