Do you have any questions for us?Posted: December 17, 2012
Ugh. This is the part I forgot to prepare for for my first interview… really, a short preliminary tele-interview with what I’m assuming was a pretty long list. To be honest, I kinda thought this would just be a Turing test and this “questions for us” type stuff would come when they decided on their real short list. They also asked if I would need special equipment, which seemed rather forward. Plus, what’s “special”? I genuinely don’t know. I don’t need a flux capacitor. I managed to ask a few questions about the department, relative numbers of postdocs and grad students, undergrad research, teaching load, etc.
I have no idea how I did, because when presenting or discussing science in stressful situations (like talking to strangers) I tend to only notice what’s going on when I stop talking, and that is the point I realize I have no idea what I have been saying. However, people usually respond as if I’ve said something coherent and occasionally even interesting, so I just trust whatever part of my brain is doing that.
But stump me once, shame on me. Stump me twice, I’m a fucking moron. So here’s some aggregation:
1. Why does this position exist — what was the impetus for creating it?
2. What would a successful first year in the position look like? How will the success of the person in this position be measured?
3. How would you describe the culture here? What type of people tend to really thrive here, and what type don’t do as well?
4. What is your timeline for a decision, and when can I expect to hear back? What’s best way to ask for an update if there’s a delay?
It is appropriate, however, to ask about things like environment (Do you collaborate with anyone in the dept.? What about other depts. in the university? How are collaborations viewed wrt tenure decisions? Is there a faculty seminar series?) or shared resources (can I get access to the fancy machine? How is it maintained? Can I see it? Is is ridiculously expensive?) or grad students (are they good? Are the admitted directly to the dept. or an umbrella program? are there training grants?).
- Where do you see this department/school/college in 5 years?
- What’s the teaching load like?
- What’s the tenure process like?
- Which courses need teaching?
- What kind of start-up package do you think I should negotiate? (Ask this of junior faculty.)
- What’s the overhead on grants? (This question tends to impress deans.)
- How much does it cost to fund a Ph.D. student for 12 months?
And at this point I’m basically cribbing from Doc Becca’s Awesome Job Search Advice Aggregator.