Careers Service

Academic Interviews

Most academic interviews will follow a similar format. This section outlines what to expect at academic interviews and how to prepare effectively.

What to expect

Panel interviews are most common, so you could be interviewed by anywhere from two to six or more people. The panel will usually include at least one person from the department (possibly the head of department or research group), a representative from Human Resources, and often someone from another department outside your discipline.

You will usually be asked to give a presentation either to the panel or to other members of the department / research group. This will commonly be on your research and could include plans for future research. You may also be asked to present on your teaching practice or give a mini-lecture.

You may also have the opportunity to talk informally to other departmental staff to find out more about the department and teaching and research activities.

Preparation

Do your homework on the research group and / or department where you are applying. This can involve internet research or asking colleagues what they know of the department or institution.

In a job advert, you will often be given contact details of someone you can talk to informally about the vacancy before applying. It is a good idea to do this especially if you are not already known to the people recruiting.

Some examples of the things you will want to know are given below:

  • What are the research interests of other staff and how can your research complement or add to the group?
  • If it’s a teaching position, make sure you know the courses currently being taught and where you can make a contribution.
  • Are there any new courses you could develop as a result of your subject expertise?
  • What opportunities are there for collaborations, both intra- and inter-disciplinary?

In preparation for your presentation you should ask for advice from and practise with your supervisor and any other members of your department / research group who have some knowledge of your research area.

Some tips on presentations for academic interviews cane be found on the jobs.ac.uk website:

Part of your preparation should include thinking about the questions which might come up during the interview. Academic interviewers will focus on questions about your:

  • previous research, including research methodologies and skills
  • ideas for future research projects and funding proposals
  • track record in attracting funding
  • teaching experience and style
  • thoughts on how you can contribute to the teaching and research of the department
  • involvement in the wider academic community through committees

Examples of questions asked at academic interviews are given in the document below: