Interview questions - any tricky ones to be aware of

(25 Posts)
purplepandas Mon 09-May-16 10:27:23


I have an interview this week for the next grade up in terms of lecturing. Are there any specific interview Qs that have caught you out that I might want to think about? I know you can't predict what you will be asked but I like to prep as much as possible. I have the usual ones re REF, teaching strengths, weaknesses, 5 yr plan etc, why I want the job and what I can bring to the dept etc.

No problem if not, just trying to think ahead!


ApocalypseSlough Mon 09-May-16 12:59:20

Just a general piece of advice. Think of every question in terms of what the interviewing is looking for rather than what you can offer. So what did you enjoy about you last job- 'chance to take responsibility for x', rather than 'enabled me to do y' describe a situation where... use an example where the outcome was positive for your employer rather than professional development for you etc.
Good Luck!

purplepandas Mon 09-May-16 13:24:00

Thanks apocalypse, good tip.

Watching with interest...

For a 5 year research plan, what are the characteristics of a strong answer?

andadietcoke Tue 10-May-16 17:01:26

I went for a job where there were a few internal applicants and they asked me how I'd manage them with the knowledge that they hadn't been successful and may be resentful of me.

I said that I would work with them on what they needed to do to progress (because obviously there would be reasons why they hadn't got the role) and a development plan. I also said that I would embrace their ambition and be as inclusive as possible to give them exposure to some of the higher level decision making that they might otherwise not have visibility of.

purplepandas Tue 10-May-16 19:24:41

Oooh andadietcoke, good answer!

Good luck Buffy if you have an interview. I have a planned 5 yr research plan answer but not sure if good. It's hard to balance ambition / reality /not being an arrogant arse (to borrow another poster's words from a different thread). International collaboration is a big thing though I think and a research team etc,

I do. It's a tricky one isn't it, because a realistic research plan depends on so much external to one single person. Kind of a mixture of a sensible trajectory and openness to opportunities... That's probably a terrible thing to say in an interview. Is it? confused

purplepandas Tue 10-May-16 20:05:45

Exactly Buffy. Good point 're plans and being open to.opportunities. Being aware of funding calls etc is so important. Being responsive too in terms of going for short term deadlines at times as well as planning long term. I like your thinking.

impostersyndrome Wed 11-May-16 06:03:33

A tricky one I've seen people struggle with is how to manage dissent amongst students doing group work.

One I'd ask is how do you juggle the competing deadlines whilst managing longer term commitments such as getting published or writing research proposals.

FoggyBottom Wed 11-May-16 07:25:54

Kind of a mixture of a sensible trajectory and openness to opportunities... That's probably a terrible thing to say in an interview

I don't think so. As long as you can think through what sort of opportunities you'd be open to. But really the opportunities come because of the planned work one does, IYSWIM (a variety of "making your own luck"). So it's about a central coherency of what you''re doing currently, and the ways that you can articulate how you see that developing.

purplepandas Wed 11-May-16 08:03:26

imposter, what would you say to the group work q? That is v tough, good question. I struggle with this issue as it is hard to manage anyway. I can think of ways to tackle proactively but I find it is a known issue usually when at crisis point only! Individual marks and asking for reflections on performance can help in terms of assessment if part of this but that does not improve the overall experience does it.

Good points Foggy. Thanks.

Last time I taught on a module with a group assessment component, it worked as followed (which seemed a good system to me):

The students had to hand in with their assignment a 1 page form, which said what percentage of the work had been done by each group member, and thus how the marks would be allocated. We told them we expected that it would be equal (e.g. 4 members, 25% each) but that if there was an unequal distribution they should agree between them what percentages to allocate. They all had to sign this form to show they agreed.

If they couldn't agree, they had to arrange a meeting with the module leader, as a sort of mediation/adjudication process. Because they knew upfront, it was in the module handbook etc, it seemed to ameliorate a lot of the tensions. Most of my students did the equal distribution thing, a couple of groups agreed an unequal distribution, and none failed to submit the form. No students complained, AFAIK they seemed to think it was fair and it took the pressure of 'X isn't coming to meetings and isn't pulling their weight' angst.

purplepandas Wed 11-May-16 19:17:28

Thanks Buffy. We did something along those lines of acknowledging individual contribution too. Good point about it being in the module handbook. Setting these things out from the start is important as you say. Much appreciated.

IronDuchess Wed 11-May-16 20:22:40

A question that used to be common in a place I worked was 'What would stop you from getting this job?'. This question was a way of tricking you in to listing your weaknesses or others' strengths. The answer they were looking for way 'Nothing, I am a good fit for this job because X,y,z and this job is a good foot for me because of A,B,C'. You need to turn it around to list why you'd be good for them and why the job would be good for you.

Wow that's a tricksy one.

purplepandas Wed 11-May-16 20:32:08

Iron, that is a tough one. Thanks for sharing. It would have caught me out. Trying to increase self confidence. Need to take it until I make it!

Would have caught me out too I expect. I might well have taken it very very literally and spoken about unconscious bias in academia or something (ASD traits). shockshock

Long list of potential questions from Vitae

impostersyndrome Fri 13-May-16 20:37:06

Those are an amazing set of questions, Buffy. Bookmarked!

And purplepandas, someone's given you a good answer while I was buried in marking. I'd add that I'd say it's important to ensure group work is always less than half of the module marks, so it's less likely to contribute significantly to the final grade.

purplepandas Fri 13-May-16 20:52:11

Thanks Buffy and Imposter. I got the job. Really appreciate being able to chat here about questions. flowers

impostersyndrome Fri 13-May-16 21:08:38

Fantastic! Well done you.


Well done, that's such great news!

Now send your good vibes in my direction..,

Another useful list

purplepandas Fri 13-May-16 21:29:25

Right, heading your way right now Buffy. Was asked about long term plans, research strategy, my best paper. Trying to think what else... Plans for new course developments and the usual why I want the job and why now.

purplepandas Fri 13-May-16 21:31:26

Also plans to develop publications and grants over next 12 months - 3 years.

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