A Campus Invitation: Reflections on My Visit


I mentioned in a previous post that I applied to a tenure-track Assistant Professor position several weeks ago.  Unfortunately, I received notice that they chose another candidate, and as ABD I didn’t expect to have much of a fighting chance even though they said they would consider ABD candidates.  Shortly after this, a series of unexpected events took place.

The Application: Cover Letter, CV, Teaching Philosophy, References

Another full-time Assistant Professor of Counseling position landed on HigherEdJobs, and it was both a position and a university in which I was very interested.  The posting said that ABD candidates would be considered.  I created my cover letter highlighting my strengths and applying them to the individual elements in the job posting.  I tailored my CV to this specific institution and its emphasis on teaching.  I updated my teaching philosophy.  I supplied other documents that were required (i.e. letters of recommendation).  Again, I followed closely the advice in Karen Kelsky’s book that I’ve mentioned several times in other blogs.  Purchase it here in paperback for $10.27.  It’s the go-to guide for PhDs trying to land an academic job.

Then I waited.

The Initial Short List

After a week or two, I was notified that I made the Top 6.  Wow!  I was excited about this news. I was also surprised that I heard back so quickly after applying.  I’ve read several articles that the application process and subsequent campus invite can take several weeks or even a number of months.   I made the initial short list.  I was emailed that the faculty would be providing rankings on the Top 6 and sending out invites accordingly to candidates for on-campus interviews.

The On-Campus Group Interview

Then another week or so later, I was invited to campus for a group interview with various faculty members, which included the faculty search committee.  Again, this invite provided hope that I made the advanced short list (usually the Top 3).

I arrived on campus, and interviewed with several faculty members.  This interview lasted about an hour and involved questions from faculty about various things (i.e. my research, teaching experience and philosophy, the “good fit” question, what I would enjoy most about working at that university, supervisory experience, etc.).  What made this experience especially interesting was that four faculty members were in the room while a number of other faculty members from another campus joined us via live feed from a large  monitor hung on the wall.  Being present with those face-to-face and on the screen provided a challenge, and I did my best prioritizing those in the room first since they would be my direct colleagues at this specific campus.  Once the interview concluded, the Dean asked me if I would wait a few moments for them to collaborate and then he wanted to meet with me individually.

Again, I waited.

A few minutes later, he emerged. Asking a question in true counselor form, he said, “How do you feel like you did?”  I replied with a grin and said that I thought I did well.  He agreed and said that the faculty would like to see me teach.  I passed this test and was moving to the next round.  An inner celebration occurred within me!  We scheduled it for three days later during the same week, and he told me I could teach on anything.  He advised, “Teach on something you’re passionate about, whatever that is.”

Teaching Demonstration & Individual Interviews

Three days later, I taught before several faculty members, a few university staff members, and one graduate student, I think.  I was advised to teach/lecture for about 40 minutes and to make room for about 20 minutes of questions and answers.  I taught on Counseling Veterans, leaving 15 minutes for Q/A.  I believe I was poised, had a high (but not too high) level of energy, and the audience seemed engaged.  I received some positive feedback after the demo from faculty.  After the teaching demo, the Dean asked me if I had some time today to meet with the other members of the search committee.  Interviews involved me talking with the various faculty members.  Many things were discussed: from what I would do as a core faculty member to the university’s salary and benefits package.  If offered, I wouldn’t start until Spring 2017, which would give me this Fall to focus on finishing my dissertation and hopefully keep on track to defend in February.  Almost four hours later, my campus visit came to an end.

I really enjoyed my visit.  The faculty seem to have a strong community with each other, the students, and the university administration.  This is a big draw for me, having heard horror stories of academic settings that are dog-eat-dog environments in which faculty view colleagues as a threat.

The search committee told me that it might take a number of weeks before I would hear something as they may be inviting another candidate to campus the following Monday and that some key members would be leaving on vacation for a few weeks.  This news led me to believe that I was probably a Top 2 candidate.  I might not hear anything until mid-July.

I continue to wait.

Overall, I was pleased with my performance in my first on-campus visit, interviews, and teaching demo.  Of course, I reflected on what I could have done better and things I missed.  Yes, I overanalyzed all of it.  I continue to do that.  But I also feel hopeful, and I will provide an update whenever I receive one.





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