Academic interviews

Tis the season for academic interviews! From my personal experience, allow me to offer a bit of advice on what to do when invited for a campus interview:

  • Read carefully your brand new “free” business cards ordered off the internet. Do so especially before you hand one to a head of department and to all the members of the search committee. You never do know – your business card company may just have decided that “Mir” is not a valid name, and that you are really “Shabana MR” (all caps, bold). When such a business card is examined, your case for being a  smart, productive and organized member of a dynamic team may well be somewhat weakened.
  • And if the business cards are good, well, make sure to take some with you for each interview. Don’t remember them just as the plane takes off.
  • Make sure you get plenty of rest and sleep before a campus interview. A campus interview lasts all day. Literally. Usually, it runs from breakfast around 7:30am to productive after-dinner conversation at 8:30pm. If you are Pakistani, and have those large and characteristically deep-set eyes, you might want to use a bit of concealer and not use mascara and eye-pencil. Around 5pm, you might find that your bright-eyed mien will dwindle to a rather wizened, darkened appearance, and your prospective colleagues will wonder why you got two black eyes just prior to flying in.
  • Try out those brand new shoes that you picked off the Wal-Mart sale rack before wearing them for a 14-hour interview day. They might just become blocks of cement as you scurry from office to office to meet the dean and the faculty in half-hour sets of time. You may also wish to figure out for sure if you are a 6W or a 6.5.
  • Wool pants, rather than a lightweight cotton, might be a good idea when flying out to snowy 8 degree weather.
  • And make sure that you travel in clothing that would be appropriate to meet new colleagues in, when they pick you up from the airport.
  • On the morning of the interview, get ready before taking time to re-prep your job talk. If your hair doesn’t look quite right, it could distract you throughout the day.
  • When you have breakfast with a senior prospective colleague, EAT. It’s going to be a log day. When you have lunch with students, also, EAT. Perfect your skill of politely interspersing food with conversation.
  • When traveling during the late winter months, make sure your CARRY-ON contains some wardrobe essentials and toiletries. You MIGHT end up being the horror story candidate whose flight was delayed, whose connection was canceled, and whose baggage was lost. You don’t want to be the candidate whose future colleague is obliged to drive them around in freezing weather to find a late-night grocery store. Also, one does not feel like a competitive candidate in a grubby t-shirt, an old cardigan and SNEAKERS. Still, stranger things have happened, and people in grubby t-shirts sometimes end up getting offers. If the unexpected happens, avoid freaking out, and treat the situation with good humor and flexibility. After all, YOU are the interviewee, suit or not.
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16 Replies to “Academic interviews”

  1. i’m glad you mentioned EATING, because, seriously, how’re people supposed to have a good day without FOOD, man?

    loved this piece of advice:

    If you are Pakistani […] you might want to use a bit of concealer and not use mascara and eye-pencil.

    i wear eyeliner quite a lot (although i’ve never figured out the hang of mascara), so thanks for pointing that out!

    ps: umm, i hope this post is not a compilation of your own personal interview-day experiences? =/

  2. I find eye liners extremely seductive in women. Talking to a woman with eye liners is very difficult for me especially if they have large eyes. God, it kills.

  3. hahaha vinod, good to know! =)

    shabana,
    ahhhhhhhh!
    i asked because that last example makes me wince so much.
    and – perhaps due to this post? 😉 – i had a dream last night that i was preparing to fly all the way across the country and i showed up at the wrong airport, completely missed my flight, didn’t remember any of my flight info, forgot my laptop at home, and forgot to pack any clothes, period, so all i had were th shalwar-kameez i was wearing (i never wear shalwar). craziness, yaara.

  4. One thing I consistently failed to carry, on such long day interviews are nicely made copies of my CVS, binded in blue cover.

    Keep 4/5 extra CVs. You never know when you have to hand over those. !

  5. Glasses are good, I’m told. Especially if you want to look smart and mature rather than pretty and perky. But I can’t abide the physical feel of them, so they’d be too distracting – so I’m stuck with perky 🙂

    Cv’s can be handy. At each of my interviews the interviewers already had plenty of copies. Even business cards seemed redundant. I’d say keep them, but don’t jump out onto the tarmac if you forget them.

    And one more thing: during winter months and to wintry destinations, avoid connections on your flights out to interviews. You could end up exhausted, flustered and stressed out from delays and missed connections. Try to get nonstop flights.

  6. LOL! I rarely use an eye liner/pencil on my eyes coz it makes me look like I have dark eye circles(?). I do like mascarra though.
    Woolen pants, I just can’t live without them, it’s my wardrobe staple since I have to drop my daughter to school and pick her up, what else is more comfy 😉
    Hope your interviews went well.

  7. Unfortanetely, that appreciation for eye liners in women can create a jarring dissonance when you are among men who use it. :((

    vinod,
    that’s hilarious. where have you been coming across guys wearing eye-liner?! well, besides johnny depp, of course. and desi kids whose mothers indiscriminately swiped surma/kajol across their eyes, regardless of whether they were boys or girls. ha.

  8. I had kajol as a 3 year old and I was also dressed in a girl’s clothes. The photo is still there. My mother wanted me to be a girl so much. (And I wish I was for her sake; she suffered a lot with all men around her – her two sons and her husband – and no woman in the house)

    Anyway, in my culture, all kids – boys and girls have the kajol on their eyes, as you’ve rightly mentioned.

    Among many muslim men, wearing the surma is considered Sunnah and they put it on proudly on a Friday. Haven’t you ever seen that?

    I assume surma/kajol and eye liner are one and the same. Pls clarify if I am wrong about that.

  9. I had kajol as a 3 year old and I was also dressed in a girl’s clothes.

    ah vinod, that made me laugh. =)
    i’ve heard of surma being considered sunnah, but haven’t seen muslim men wearing it on fridays – maybe they just don’t where i live, here in the sf bay.

    WAIT! i DO remember one young man who (regularly) wears surma! =) i’m pretty sure he wears it because it’s sunnah, since that’s the sort of person he is, but because he’s so young and hip it also gives him a nice rocker-ish look. =)

    and yes, i refer to it as eyeliner/kajol/surma all across the board. as far as i know, they’re all the same (then again, i don’t know much about makeup).

    1. I am muslim man (20yrs old), but I a muslim revert meaning I converted to Islam. I got use to using mascara or eyeliner on in my eyes it makes my eyes turn and glow green. I did not wear for religion sake I’d say I always did it on my own. Although when I do wear it no one can tell it looks so natural. I’ve been trying to research what is Islam view is on the subject. So far I heard of some type of khol and then I found something on surma, and finally I found this page. I have been wearing it for 3 years and to just not wear it I’d feel insecure because I felt it grow on me, but then I wasn’t sure if I was violating the religion, but so far it seems allowed, but I’m curious about these Islamic products they mention. I read something else about dyeing your eyelashes and hair with hena dye.

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