Anticipating possible interview questions and thinking about your responses in advance is a powerful tool in landing a faculty position! Questions typically fall under four broad categories:

Thanks to Dr. Nanda Dimitrov (University of Western Ontario) for compiling questions typically asked in academic job interviews, based on the information provided by faculty members and educational developers from Canada and the US.

Questions about research

  • Describe your current research. Will you be continuing in this research track? What are your future research plans?
  • How would you involve graduate/undergraduate students in your research?
  • Where do your research strengths lie? (Quantitative/qualitative, etc.?) Why? What are your research weaknesses? And how will you improve?
  • Your current research requires more technological support than this institution is able to provide. How will you deal with this?
  • We see that you have done a lot of conference papers and presentations; we have limited professional development funds. How do you feel about that as a limiting factor? (Will you continue to go and pay your own way – stop doing research? Resent the limitations?)
  • What audiences are you addressing with your research?
  • What is the cutting edge in your field and how does your work compare to it and extend it?
  • How will you go about revising your dissertation for publication?
  • What is the broader significance of your research? How does it expand our historic understanding, literary knowledge, humanistic horizons?
  • Can you explain the value of your work to an educated layperson?
  • Tell us how your research has influenced your teaching. In what ways have you been able to bring the insights of your research to your courses at the undergraduate level?
  • How would you balance your teaching duties and your own research plans?
  • If you were organizing a special symposium or conference on your research topic, which scholars would you invite?
  • In what journals do you expect to publish your research?
  • Would you be able to take on a graduate student immediately?
  • Tell us briefly what theoretical framework you used in developing your research.
  • If you were to begin it again, are there any changes you would make in your dissertation?
  • What facilities do you need to carry out your research?
  • What did you leave out of your research talk?
  • What is the most significant piece of research that you have read in the last year?
  • What do you envision for creating a research program here?
  • What are your plans for applying for research funding?
  • We have a large teaching load here – 12 hours per week; how would you manage this and still work on doing research and publishing?
  • Tell us about a research project in which you’ve been involved that was successful and one which was not. Why do you think these were the outcomes?

Questions about teaching

  • What is your philosophy of teaching?
  • Could you tell us about your teaching experiences?
  • What do you consider to be your teaching strengths/weaknesses?
  • If you have a student who is doing poorly in your class, but has not missed classes and appears to be a good student, what would you do?
  • There is a strong move to infuse interdisciplinary work into the curriculum. With what other disciplines could you work (teach/research)? Have you done such work in the past?
  • What classes could you teach in our program?
  • How would you plan a course in ___? What texts would you use? What topics would you cover? What goals would you have? What assessment and teaching methods would you use?
  • How would you evaluate student learning?
  • Have you ever conducted formative evaluation or Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGID)?
  • How do you bring diversity into your day to day teaching?
  • What is the difference between collaborative and cooperative learning?
  • How have you used technology in the classroom?
  • If you could teach any course you wanted, what would it be? What would you teach next if you could teach two of them?
  • If you could teach your dream upper level specialty course, what would that be?
  • What critical approaches do you find most persuasive? How do they translate into your teaching?
  • What kinds of essays do you want your students to write?
  • How do you know you’ve been successful in teaching ___ course?
  • How would you teach a major work in your field? (They may name one)
  • Can you think of a specific example of when a student you were teaching really seemed to learn something that you regarded as worthwhile? Briefly describe what happened. What thing or things did you do that contributed to that student learning? Why do you think did these actions of yours work?
  • What experience have you had teaching at the community college level? How if at all do you think teaching at a community college differs from teaching at a four year college or university?
  • What experiences have you had teaching diverse students? (Well prepared, under prepared, full-time, part-time, students with full-time jobs and/or family care responsibilities, students representing different ethnic groups and races, religions, ages and genders?) What teaching methods have proved effective with such students?
  • Describe your familiarity and experience with different teaching methods such as collaborative learning, learning styles adaptation, and classroom assessment.
  • Tell me about your teaching techniques (e.g., group projects, case method, etc.)
  • What is your favourite lecture and why?
  • Tell me about your industry experience (if you have any). How would you bring that industry experience into the classroom?
  • If you have no industry experience: How do you expect to be able to teach students about the field if you have never worked in it?
  • What is your favourite theory or theorist to teach?
  • How do you motivate your students?
  • How would you encourage your students to major in our field?
  • How would you work with our students as opposed to those at your current institution?

Questions about department and community involvement

  • Institution ___ is dedicated to providing a liberal arts/ spiritually based/ holistic education. How would you describe your role within that vision?
  • You’ve seen our mission statement. How would you see yourself contributing to our mission and campus atmosphere?
  • We have instituted a community service requirement for all undergraduates – how would you see yourself interface with such a program?
  • What is your opinion on single sex education? (if it is a Women’s University/ College)
  • How will you fit in as a department member and what kind of contribution will you make to our community?
  • Apart from the obvious financial reasons, why would you like to join the Faculty of Y at University X?
  • We conceive of our campus as one large community. What non- or extra -academic activities would you be interested in sponsoring or participating in?
  • What is your perception of the responsibilities of a full-time faculty member in a University / College? …To the department? …To the division? …To the University / College as a whole?

Questions about career and personal choices

  • Describe your goals and plans for professional development as a University / College instructor.
  • Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years? In 10 years?
  • What are some of the specific things you would like to address/learn in your own professional development? How is this connected to your work as an academic?
  • What about our position is particularly attractive to you?
  • What do you do when you are not working? (Modern equivalent of “what are your hobbies?”)
  • How long do you plan on staying at University ___?
  • What is the last book that you read for fun?
  • How do you feel about living in ___ city?
  • I understand that your partner is completing his/her Ph.D. What if you receive job offers in different locations?
  • What kind of salary are you looking for?
  • Why have you changed jobs so frequently?
  • If you get more than one job offer, how will you decide between them?
  • Who else is interviewing you?
  • How did you go about researching / preparing for the interview for this position?
  • What questions do you have for us?

teaching tipThis Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Questions Asked by Hiring Committees. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.