Interviews for academic positions can be nuanced, and draw on specifics about your field and background. Take time to really think about the questions below. Consider how your background connects with the needs of the institution.

Typical Academic Interview Questions

Background Questions

  • How did you get interested in this subject?
  • What is the most interesting thing about your work so far?
  • What's been the most difficult challenge you have faced?

Dissertations and Research

  • Tell us about your dissertation.
  • If you were going to begin again, what changes would you have made in your dissertation?
  • Why did it take you so long to finish your dissertation?
  • When do you expect to complete?
  • How does your research relate or compare to what's been written on this subject?
  • What contribution does your work make to the field?
  • What is your most important publication? Do you have plans for others?
  • Why don't you have any publications?

Future Research Plans

  • What are your future research plans?
  • What resources do you need to conduct that research?
  • How would you involve undergraduates in your research?


  • Tell us about your teaching. Are you a good teacher? How do you know?
  • What about your teaching was challenging? What did you enjoy?
  • How would you teach a survey course in your field?
  • How do you feel about teaching introductory courses?
  • What special seminars could you offer?
  • What graduate courses would you like to offer?
  • We see that you have never taught a large lecture course. How would you do that?
  • What is your teaching philosophy?
  • What would be your favorite course to teach?
  • If you could choose your course load, what would be your preference?

Outside Interests

  • What are your strengths outside of the classroom, in volunteer/community service projects?
  • In what university committees would you like to become involved?
  • What do you like to do for fun in your personal time?
  • What contribution can you make to the department?

Job Selection

  • Why are you interested in this school?
  • If you have more than one job offer, how will you decide?
  • What, if any, limitations do you have in your selection process?
  • With which other colleges are you interviewing? When will you hear from them?
  • What are your salary requirements?

Your Turn to Ask Them...

During your interview, you will have an opportunity to ask questions as well. Depending on the audience, you will want to develop a targeted list that both helps you assess the organization and impresses them with your research skills.