The Importance of Informational Interviews (Inside Higher Ed)

June 9, 2020

As we approach a new faculty hiring season this fall, given the uncertainty of how many positions will be available, you need to be proactive, advises Chris Smith.

In the current climate of faculty hiring freezes, you may wonder how best to set yourself up for success when applying for these positions now or in the future. As a Ph.D. student or postdoc, how can you maximize your opportunities on the faculty job market? Even before the pandemic, the data showed an imbalance between the number of Ph.D.s wanting faculty jobs and the number of actual tenure-track job opportunities, especially at research-intensive universities.

A group of current and past postdocs, including me and 10 others from public and private universities around the country who met via Future PI Slack, collected data from more than 300 applicants mostly on the biological sciences faculty job market in 2018-19. Funding, research fit and networking came up as the most common responses to an open-ended question of what those candidates felt helped them in the application process. We plan to further investigate network metrics in our 2019-20 faculty application cycle survey, which is now accepting responses through July. 

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