How to follow-up after your academic interview

You made it through the shortlist process and were invited to attend the interview. Now you’re waiting to hear the interview panel’s decision, what should you do?

Write your thank you letters/emails

You don’t need wait passively. Firstly you can write to those who interviewed you, perhaps by email. You should write to each person individually and never send a group email. The tone should be sincere, positive and concise.

A suggested format for these thank you letters/emails:

Part 1: Thank them for meeting with you. “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me during my visit to the University of Life”
Part 2: Reference something particular about your meeting with that person, something that you sincerely appreciate. “I was very interested to hear about the study that you have been running on academics’ use of Twitter to disseminate research outcomes.”
Part 3: Express positive sentiment and hope for nonspecific future contact. “I really enjoyed our meeting, and I hope we have a chance to talk again sometime soon.”

If you promised to send additional information, such as extra copies of your publications or teaching evaluations, be sure to send them with your thank you note.

If you paid for the trip and will be reimbursed by the department, send your receipts and other necessary documentation with your thank you notes.

Be sure to write these thank you note within a week of having your interview.

Do your own assessment of the role and the interview

Reflect on how you feel the interview went, and what more you found out about the role and your potential colleagues. Use your interview experience to make a list of the  pros and cons of taking the role. Some things you will have already considered during the application process, and after the interview you will undoubtedly have a clearer picture which will help you to review whether the role is right for you. Your list could cover:

  • what is the split between research and teaching commitments?
  • how does the role fit with your research/teaching interests to those of department and university?
  • is the geographic location a place where you will be happy to settle for a while?
  • does the salary cover the cost of living in the location and, will it be enough to cover your life style commitments?
  • what are the employment opportunities for your partner in that location?
  • what are the opportunities for career advancement?
  • what kind of intradepartmental and extramural support is available?
  • what is the calibre of the students?
  • how would you fit into departmental culture?

You will probably have a good sense as to whether or not you will have an offer by the time you leave the campus. If you sense that it will be a positive outcome, use your list to start assessing what you will need to be successful in the position; they may want to begin negotiations the next day.

What to do if you’re not chosen for the role
Don’t take a rejection personally. In many cases, if you are not the candidate accepted, ask a friend or colleague on the committee to give you advice about aspects of your interview that could be improved. Nothing is wasted. You have learned more about those working in your area of research and, if you connected with certain people be sure to re-connect on your conference network.

References and useful links for further reading:

Free PDF download from the University of Washington, USA

Preparing for an academic career in the geosciences blog

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