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Shortlisted for teaching fellow position, anyone want to talk to me about the interview and stuff?

(44 Posts)
DoItTooJulia Wed 22-Jun-16 12:30:17

I don't currently work in academia, but I do work in the vocational/professional field that I retrained in. The university that I trained at have kept in touch and I am often asked back to deliver lectures on the course.

The last time I was doing this I was encouraged to apply for the TF position. I've now been shortlisted (eek!) and been given the info about the interviews and presentations. It's an all day invite. I haven't been to a job interview for 10 years and in all honesty, that was for my current job which really was my first 'proper job'.

All of a sudden I think I'm punching above my weight, and I'm panicking a wee bit!

Do I wear a full suit? I know I have to do a presentation- do I just use the basis of some of my other lectures and shrink to fit or do I rewrite an entirely new presentation?

And I know you can't answer this, but am I mad to consider this? Am I fooling myself to think I can do this?

Any advice welcome!

DoItTooJulia Wed 22-Jun-16 13:14:58

Oh, and what will I be doing all day if I have a ten minute presentation and a 45 minute interview-will it be a group discussion or something? Will the other candidates be there? Or do you think it'll just be waiting time? (Interview at 10 am, presentation at 2).


CityDweller Wed 22-Jun-16 23:11:45

Don't wear a suit! (Unless you're in a business or law dept). And probably nothing in between talk and interview. Usually don't meet other candidates, but not unheard of.

They usually give specific guidance for the presentation bit. What have they asked you to do?

DoItTooJulia Thu 23-Jun-16 07:46:41


It's just that nagging feeling with a suit, will they think I'm not trying hard enough if I don't wear one? Just smart casual, then?

The presentation is ten minutes and has to be on the topic(s) taught by the department. It sounds like they want a mini lecture.

Thanks for replying, I know no one who does anything like this except for the other lecturers who are likely to be on the panel, so I need advice.

So you think it'll be waiting time? Ok, I know the campus, I can find a quiet corner to prepare.

esornep Thu 23-Jun-16 08:32:39

They will want a customised presentation, in which you show your ideas for teaching this material and mention any innovative new ideas you have.

The candidates could be at the short presentation but will not be present in the interview (not sure I am interpreting your question right).

For me (STEM department) a suit would be fine. People don't usually wear suits except when meeting with the senior leadership team/business sponsors etc or for graduation, but suits for interview are fairly normal.

DoItTooJulia Thu 23-Jun-16 08:52:26

I just wasn't sure if the other candidates will be there all day too, so if we are milling around waiting, they may be too. I did wonder if they were going to do a lunch where the team and candidates mingle and it's a bit of an interview by stealth. I didn't imagine they'd be in my interview!

I'm going to get my suit jacket out and check that it fits.

FoggyBottom Sat 25-Jun-16 13:05:25

OK, need to hide away from the awful awful news, so will distract myself here, and hope I can help you. Helping someone might make me feel better about living in a country with 52% xenophobes ... Let's hope we have a university system left in 10 years' time.

Yes you are likely to meet the other candidates. I've made some good friends in rounds of job interviews - think of it as an opportunity to develop networks of potential colleagues.

And from the other side of the selection process (I've appointed many many people) in the Humanities: while we don't judge your behaviour outside of the formal selection procedures, we will be observing to see how collegial you are. Universities are high-pressure, high-stress environments where we only survive through working as teams, and being there to support each other. We'll be looking at how you might contribute in this way.

You don't need to wear a suit - although the men in my field often do for their interview. A smart dress + jacket, or trousers/skirt + jacket, or even no jacket, will be fine. Be comfortable but not sloppy.

But if you're going to have to do something practical - a demonstration, a bit of physical practice of any sort (manipulating a patient etc), then dress appropriately - make sure that if you take of jacket you can work in shirt sleeves etc. Or ask about changing facilities.

Use waiting time to look at the facilities: library, art gallery, whatever is relevant. Ask for directions to the library or labs, or studios, or working spaces. Show you're professional, by wanting to see what tools you will be working with in lecture theatres, or demonstration labs etc.

If it's a 20 minute presentation, do it anew. Don't try to "shrink" a 50 minute lecture into 20 minutes. You'll be speaking to potential colleagues, and showing them how and what you teach. Use it as an opportunity to show the power of your content (your professional knowledge) and the efficacy of your method - your teaching style. Don't go too overboard in terms of audience participation though - see this as an opportunity to speak seriously about what & how you teach.

I'm around all weekend (have a cold & have to read a PhD) so feel free to ask any questions from this.

Good luck! flowers

MarasmeAbsolu Sat 25-Jun-16 16:11:23

Yep - no suit, but smart casual smile
I usually go for nice trousers, with blouse and suit jacket (and clean hair if I really want to make an impression.

What we have asked our TF before in interview (and also to evidence in presentations):
- how they link research to teaching
- how they incorporate grad skills into core subject teaching
- innovative (esp online) teaching method, with evidence of engagement / feedback from the students, or evidence of improved student perf / retention. It helps if you have reflected or evaluated your teaching practice in the past
- how they contribute to internationalisation through their teaching and scholarship [WHAT A JOKE to write about this today. Ah ah]
- Their approach to feedback

In the non-interview bits, we observe how candidate "interact" with our students who come to the lunch.

Exciting - well done on your selection!

DoItTooJulia Sat 25-Jun-16 18:38:45

Thank you both-really useful posts.

I was thinking about the presentation today. I'm going to do a new one but base it on the most technical topic that I lecture on already iyswim.

I feel weirdly nervous. I think it's because I already know the team and programme leader.

Really greatful for the advice! Thanks.

FoggyBottom Sun 26-Jun-16 21:17:42

Oh, just a small thing, if you use a PowerPoint for your presentation, don't finish it with a twee slide saying "Thank you for listening" or something like that. It's toe curling!

DoItTooJulia Mon 27-Jun-16 07:59:40

I've started the presentation-and I didn't put a finishing slide in-yet. I was wondering about finishing with 'Any questions?' Does that sound ok? (It's what I normally do)

Thanks again-it's getting closer-I've decided on a black dress with a small pattern and a jacket.

FoggyBottom Mon 27-Jun-16 09:20:29

No, please don't. You can say "Any questions" but actually it will be expected that staff will ask questions, and whoever's chairing the presentations (I usually do at my place as Head of Dep't). A slide which says "Any questions?" sounds patronising to me - I'm the one asking you questions if you want this job. But I've sat through a lot of these, and get tetchy.

The best advice I can give you is be straightforward, be open, be yourself. People reveal themselves in ways they don't realise, so go in being open.

FoggyBottom Mon 27-Jun-16 09:25:23

What I mean is - in a job presentation & interview, it's not your role to invite me to ask you questions: I will ask you questions even if you don't invite me to, because I know I need to, to probe your presentation, as part of a consideration about your suitability & competitiveness for the post.

I know that, written out like that, it sounds tough. And the power is seriously imbalanced, but that's the way it is ...

Lua Mon 27-Jun-16 09:29:51

Can you give us an idea what kind of university is it? I.e. Research oriented vs teaching oriented and whether it is a science or humanities department? The expectations can be quite different, so I do not want to give bad advice....

DoItTooJulia Mon 27-Jun-16 17:55:24

Ooh, more replies-thank you.

It's a RG Uni, very strong on research, as you'd expect. It's a science department, but it's a course that also encompasses Law. (its vocational and difficult to describe without giving too much info away!) and actually spans a couple of departments as the team I will -hopefully-be on delivers lectures for a number of different programmes.

I hear you Foggy -this is precisely why I haven't put a final slide in yet. It's actually the trickiest bit! (And it's difficult to keep it down to ten minutes-I'm used to a three hour slot!).

purplepandas Mon 27-Jun-16 21:18:41

Just wanted to say good luck and congrats on the interview. I agree re the slides. It's tricky. 10 mins is not a lot so really think about what your key points are. I tend to have a max of one slide per minute of talking and less ideally. It's horrid when you run out of time and it does not look great.

DoItTooJulia Mon 27-Jun-16 21:41:26

Thanks Panda I'm trying to keep it simple and not overthink it. Then I worry it's too simple.


purplepandas Mon 27-Jun-16 22:42:34

You will be fine. We are rooting for you. smile

DoItTooJulia Tue 28-Jun-16 08:30:16

Thanks panda I really love the uni-I did my undergrad there, postgrad, and most recently some teaching-it's been a huge part of my adult life and I'd love to get this job. Which makes me even more nervous! I've got a couple more days to work on the presentation-just wondering how much I should play with power point effects-don't want to over egg the pudding so to speak.

purplepandas Tue 28-Jun-16 10:00:31

Totally understand 're the uni. I am moving back to my PhD uni soon. Feels like home!

I would keep effects minimal in all honesty. I prefer simplicity. The focus show be on what you are saying and not so much on the screen.

Good luck!

DoItTooJulia Tue 28-Jun-16 10:44:22

Well I'm working from home today (coffee break) and I can't concentrate one bit! I just want to get on with this presentation and making interview notes.

I'm pleased you think simple is best-I hate flashy power points-I'd rather have some one knowledgeable and engaging in front of me any day.

I'm imagining questions about research ideas, where I see myself in X years, how I would engage with stakeholders and partners and how to improve my skills/keeping up to date.

I just want it to be the day to do it now!

OneArt Tue 28-Jun-16 10:51:53

Agree to keep it simple.

I teach at a university and I got this job two years ago from a background that was professional rather than academic. I gave a 10 minute presentation (I was given the topic) and someone told me after I got the job that I was the only candidate that went back to basics and explained the topic (which was quite a technical one) from scratch. Remember you're not trying to prove how clever you are, but how good you are at explaining a topic in simple terms. Practise it a lot - I think the trick is to know your talk inside out but sound like you're giving it for the first time!

Lots of people watched the presentation - I think the whole department was invited to attend. Then my interview was with a panel of five.

Good luck!

FoggyBottom Wed 29-Jun-16 08:21:01

OK, prep for interview (have just recently done three days of recruitment for several posts - we appointed two EU candidates ha ha, we are still internationalists!)

If it's a Teaching Fellow, if I were doing interviews I wouldn't ask you about research because that isn't what we're employing you for, but I would ask you:
* how any research you have done informs your teaching
* how you will stay at the teaching cutting edge without doing research
* whether you're engaged in any pedagogical research

For your situation, I'd be asking about your professional practice and how that remains at the cutting edge and informs your teaching.

japanesegarden Wed 29-Jun-16 09:00:08

Can I hijack to ask a quick interview question, please? I am making a sideways move into academia in middle age, and have been shortlisted for funding, for which I have a big scary interview in front of a panel. I can do suitable clothes, but I never wear makeup and have an ungroomed hairstyle (clean but not polished!) Am I right in my hope that they will be more interested in my mind and that I can get away without makeup because it's not a corporate environment? Thank you smile

OldLagNewName Wed 29-Jun-16 09:25:37

Japanesegarden: Nah, you'll be fine. I've been on many interview panels and women candidates hardly ever wear makeup. I do think standards of dress have gone up a lot for women academics in the last 15-20 years (Trinny and Susannah effect?!) - it's rare now to see women academics who look as if they are just wearing what's most comfortable. But that doesn't mean make-up and fancy hair, IME.

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