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.