Academic Job Interview: Dos and Don’ts

By | September 14, 2019

Academic Job Interview


  • Know where you’re going before your appointment.
  • Prepare…know about the company, the job, and how your background relates.
  • Dress appropriately.  Keep in mind the job for which you’re interviewing.  Take extra care with your grooming.
  • Bring along your questions for the employer an extra resume, and your list of references.  Also, your social security card if it is a job that they tend to hire on the spot.
  • Arrive about 10-15 minutes early.  Take a short walk or deep breaths.
  • Remain calm.  It’s OK to be nervous, and you can control it by being prepared.
  • Introduce yourself.  Wait until you are asked to be seated before sitting down.
  • Be positive…stress your strong points.
  • Be confident, determined.
  • Be honest.
  • Show enthusiasm and interest in the job and company.
  • To be prepared means you have researched the company.
  • Listen carefully.  Understand the questions before answering.  Think before speaking.  Speak clearly, distinctly, and loud enough to be heard.
  • Support your general statements with specific, job-related examples.
  • Maintain eye contact.  Think of this as an opportunity to make a friend. They might help you with future jobs or be on future interview teams.
  • Be concise.
  • Anticipate probing questions about any difficult career experiences such as gaps in employment, long periods of unemployment, jobs held only briefly, etc.
  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time.
  • Be polite and pleasant to everyone you meet including the receptionist.
  • Evaluate and learn from every interview.


  • Don’t talk too much–the employer will think you don’t work…you just talk.
  • Don’t talk too little–employer wants you to answer the questions with more information than “yes” and “no”.  Explain your answers in 1-2 sentences.
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer.  Let interviewer “lead” the interview.
  • Don’t go unprepared—practice answers to interview questions and above all, sell yourself and your qualifications (have a 30-second commercial about your skills).
  • Don’t wear dirty shoes or clothes—and no holes.  Be sure to bathe, trim hair, brush teeth, clean fingernails.  Face needs to be clean or neatly trimmed.
  • No shirts that say things like “Take My Job and Shove It.”
  • Don’t be late to interview.  Check out where the interview will be ahead of time, figure travel time and allow for traffic, trains, accidents, etc.
  • Don’t bring wife, girlfriend, children, or friends.  Be on your best behavior.
  • Don’t ask the salary.  If at the end of the interview if the subject hasn’t come up, then ask what the benefit package is.  You should know ahead of time what the going wage is for that position in case you must negotiate.
  • Don’t talk about unrelated subjects.  Share your interests, education, skills, goals, and objectives.  You need to know your goals for the future.  “Where do you plan to be in 10 years.”  “Tell me about yourself”—tell your skills, not your personal life.
  • When you are asked why you want the job, don’t say “To make my truck payment.”  Let them know you want to work for them, you bring such-and-such benefits and skills, and this company fits into your goals in the long run to be a ……….  Remember, organizations want an energetic, contributing employee who will stay for the long term.  They don’t want a “yes” person, but a supportive team member.