Austin Z. Henley
Faculty interview questions I asked and got asked
This is a list of questions I asked and got asked during phone and campus interviews for tenure-track Assistant Professor positions in Computer Science during the 2017-2018 interview season. Many of the existing resources for the job market focus on application materials and the job talk, but I had no idea what to expect during the interviews, so I wrote these down.
I applied to 36 positions, did 10 phone interviews, was invited to 8 campus interviews, and received 7 offers. Most of these universities were R1 state schools and ranked in the 60s-70s by US News. I attended an R2 university with an unranked department.
Questions I got asked
- Tell us about your research.
- What are the contributions of your work?
- Can you explain the theory behind your work?
- How does your research relate to X? (where X is something I've never heard of in a very different domain)
- How is your work different than other's in your field?
- How will you distinguish yourself from your advisor?
- What are your 1st year goals as faculty? 5 year goals?
- What are your funding plans?
- Which specific NSF programs will you submit to?
- What other funding agencies can you submit to besides NSF?
- What will be the topic of your first grant proposal?
- When will you first apply for the CAREER Award?
- Who will you write your first grant proposal with?
- Do you have any grant writing experience?
- What do you want your research group/lab to be like? Number of students?
- What is your biggest achievement?
- What is your "home" conference?
- Who will you collaborate with externally?
- Who would you collaborate with within the department? What other departments could you work with?
- What will your strategy be in order to publish top-tier papers consistently?
- What would you like to teach?
- Can you teach X? (sometimes X was far outside my area)
- What resources do you need for your lab?
- Why this university?
- What are you looking for in a department?
- What other schools are you interviewing with? (some beat around the bush, others were blunt)
- What is your timeline [for accepting an offer]?
- Why academia? Why not industry?
Questions I asked
- What is the teaching load, before and after tenure?
- What is the size of undergrad and grad classes?
- How many PhD students does the department have? Masters? Undergrads?
- What kind of lab space will I be provided? Is it shared?
- I need space for running user studies, is that possible?
- What is the IRB like here?
- Is there any mentorship for junior faculty?
- What grant writing support is there?
- What has been your experience in recruiting students here?
- Where do the undergrads usually go after graduating?
- What are the big tech employers here? Is there much of a startup scene?
- To grad students: Is the GA salary livable? Do you get health insurance?
- To junior faculty: What are department meetings like? Do you feel like you have a voice?
- To senior faculty: What do you think makes for a successful junior faculty member here?
- To graduate/teaching coordinator: What courses is the department in need of someone to teach?
- To dean/chair: What is the success rate for tenure?
- To hiring committee/chair: What is the timeline for the committee to make a decision and extend an offer?
- To chair: What are the tenure expectations? How much grant money?
- To chair: What is the startup package? Student support? Summer salary? Travel and equipment? Expiration date?
- To chair: How much do students cost to support?
- To chair: What is the overhead rate for grants?
- To chair: How much does it cost to buy out of teaching?
- At dinner: Where do most faculty live? Which school zones are good?
- At dinner: What made you choose this university?