Pursuing an Academic Career Virtual Event Series

Preparing for an academic job interview in the geosciences: January 20, 2012

Rodin's The Thinker, Columbia University campus Details

Note: This webinar has already taken place. See the References, resources, and the presentation from this virtual event.

2 pm Eastern | 1 pm Central | 12 pm Mountain | 11 am Pacific (1 hr)

Leaders: Rachel Beane, Bowdoin College; Heather Macdonald, College of William and Mary; Michael Williams, University of Massachusetts

Registration deadline: January 13, 2012 - Registration is now closed

This webinar provides an opportunity to learn about academic job interviews from multiple perspectives. The presenters have experience on both sides of the interview process. Collectively they have conducted on-campus and phone interviews as faculty, department chair, and dean; held interviews at professional meetings; and mentored graduate students and post-docs during the job search and interview process. During the webinar, we will have time for questions and discussion. We hope you will join us!

Jump down to: References, resources, and the presentation from this virtual event

Goals for participants are:

  • To learn about academic job interviews and how they vary in different settings
  • To gain ideas for how to best prepare before the interview
  • To discuss ideas about ways to present oneself during interviews
  • To prepare for the types of questions one might be asked during an interview
  • To learn about the types of presentations one might be asked to give during an interview
  • To consider when/how to ask more personal questions (such as those related to housing, partner, spouse, children...)

Time - 2 pm Eastern | 1 pm Central | 12 pm Mountain | 11 am Pacific
Duration - 1 hour
Format - Online web presentation via Blackboard Collaborate web conference software with questions and discussion. Participants will receive an email with instructions detailing how to log into the event approximately one week prior to the event.
Registration - There is no registration fee, but registration is required to save a space. Space is limited to 80, so please be sure you can commit before registering. Registration closes when the spaces fill or January 13, 2011, whichever comes first. Please complete the registration form if you are interested and able to participate. Registration for this webinar has closed.
Preparation - Please consider and prepare 1-2 minute responses to the following: 1) Briefly describe you main research focus and explain why it is important. and 2) Pick one course that you would propose to teach and describe how you would engage students when you teach it. To articulate brief informative responses to these prompts, you may find it helpful to view examples of "Elevator Talks".

Please email Rachel Beane (rbeane AT bowdoin.edu) if you have any questions about this event or Monica Bruckner (mbruckne AT carleton.edu) if you have technical questions.


Rachel Beane is Professor of Earth and Oceanographic Science at Bowdoin College where she has been on the faculty since 1998 and served as department chair. She has been a co-leader for On the Cutting Edge Early Career, Career Prep, and Pursuing an Academic Career workshops. Her introductory and upper-level undergraduate courses emphasize field- and instrument-based laboratories and writing, and incorporate interactive teaching activities and authentic research projects. Her research interests include convergent margin processes, ultrahigh-pressure metamorphism, and microstructural studies using electron backscatter diffraction.

Heather Macdonald is a Professor of Geology at the College of William and Mary where she has been on the faculty since 1983. She has served as department chair, as Dean of Undergraduate Studies, and as co-director of the undergraduate marine science minor. In addition to her undergraduate courses, she also teaches courses for graduate students on college teaching and college science teaching.

Mike Williams is a Professor of Geology and Department Head at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Mike's research is focused at the cross-roads of ductile structural geology, metamorphic petrology, igneous petrology, and tectonics. Much of his research has involved Precambrian rocks (southwestern U.S.A. or northern Canada) but he has been increasingly involved with rocks of western New England.

References and Resources

Watch the ScreenCast (MP4 Video 88.6MB Jan20 12) of this event.

Preparing for an Academic Job Interview Presentation (Acrobat (PDF) 1.3MB Jan20 12) -Presented by Rachel Beane, Mike Williams, and Heather Macdonald, slides presented at the January 20 virtual event.

Other Related Sites, Materials, and Opportunities
  • Academic Job Interviews - This series of web pages, from the Preparing for an Academic Career module, contains information about the academic job interview and how one can prepare, including how to construct an "elevator talk," a list of commonly-asked interview questions, and a resource list for more information.
  • Preparing for an Academic Career website - this series of pages provides tips and resources for preparing for an academic job, including the job search, preparing to teach, and moving your research forward to a new institution.
    Each summer, we offer a multi-day workshop (the registration deadline for this summer's workshop is March 8, 2012), designed specifically for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows who are interested in pursuing academic careers. Participants meet informally with other participants and with workshop leaders from a range of educational settings, share ideas and strategies for stress- and time-management, and develop a self-inventory of preferred options for the next career stage and a personal action plan.
    The website hosts materials that stem from this workshop on topics such as:
  • Negotiations in the Hiring Process - this webinar event page, from the 2011 Pursuing an Academic Career webinar series, contains a screencast recording of the webinar as well as links to many resources related to negotiations in the hiring process.
    • I've got an academic job offer: now what? ( This site may be offline. ) - This presentation from Canada's University Affairs website features dean Robert Summerby-Murray, who offers insight and tips for negotiating your first academic job offer. While focused on jobs in Canada, the presentation includes information that broadly pertinent to applicants in the US and elsewhere.
  • Course Design module
  • Tomorrow's Professor is a blog from Stanford's Rick Reis that provides useful articles for those preparing for and beginning their academic career.
  • Teaching Methods
    The "what, why, and how" to use interactive teaching methods in your classroom or lab with references, resources, and a set of example activities:
    • Interactive Lectures - Includes info about methods such as using ConcepTests, Think-Pair-Share, Question of the Day, and more.
    • Concept Maps - Information and references about concept maps.
    • Gallery Walk - activities get students out of their chairs to actively work together.
    • Jigsaws are an option when you have several related data sets you would like students to explore. In a jigsaw, each student develops some expertise with one data set, then teaches a few classmates about it (and learns about related data sets from those classmates).
    • See the Pedagogy in Action project for a comprehensive list of teaching methods with the "what, why, and how" to use them in class, related references and resources, and activity examples from various disciplines.