Typical Job Interview and Job Talk Questions

Reprinted by permission from the R.H. Smith School of Business Association of Doctoral Students Spring 2007 newsletter. Thank you Sherae!

By Sherae Daniel
Questions to be prepared to answer during an interview and/or campus visit:

Your Future Plans
• When do you plan to graduate?
• What are your professional goals?
• What kind of research do you plan to do in the future?
• Who do you plan to work with in the future?
• What projects do you want to do in the future?

Questions Related to Your Job Search
• Why did you apply to this school (university) in particular?
• Have you been to this city (that the school is in) before?
• What other schools are you talking to?

Teaching Related Questions
• What kinds of classes are you comfortable teaching?
• How did your past teaching experiences go?
• What book did you use when you taught (whatever class you taught)?
• How many students were in the class you taught?
• What were your teaching review scores?
• Do you prefer to teach MBA, PHD or undergrad?

About your advisors
• How are your advisors/did they get tenure/have they read my paper?
• Is X your main advisor? How does co-chairing work?

More Personal Questions
• Will your spouse be willing to move here (or do you have other challenges related to moving)?
• How old are you? You look like you are my children’s age.
• Do you like writing?
• How is so-and-so (even if he/she isn’t your advisor or on your committee)?

Specifics About Your Presentation/Dissertation/Research
• Tell me about your dissertation.
• Why did you publish in the journal you published in?
• Why did you use this word instead of that word for your construct?
• Where do you want to/plan to publish your work?
• What causes the unexplained variance in your model (regression)?
• Why do you cite this person and not that person?
• Your cite is old, what is new in this area?

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9 Responses

  1. Thanks Steven for making these available. It’s great to see these questions. Very informative!

    Some of the questions are quite eye-opening! I’m tempted to give them a try….

    • Will your spouse be willing to move here (or do you have other challenges related to moving)?
    ==> Maybe, do you want to hire him too??

    • How old are you? You look like you are my children’s age.
    ==> Old enough to finish school …

    • Do you like writing?
    ==> Uh no …. I’ll do it if I have to though… Why??

    • How is so-and-so (even if he/she isn’t your advisor or on your committee)?
    ==> Oh she had a fist fight with a secretary over left-over pizza and lost!

  2. I agree – informative posting and interesting questions. BTW, that was a nice try, Rachel!

  3. Steven and Rachel, thanks for providing such an excellent information. It helps me to understand what kind of questions the academic interviewers might ask in the future.

    Well, as for me, I have came across an interesting question, not from the academic interviewers, but from a PhD researcher, which is mind boggling, to say the least. 🙂

    The following is our conversation on a sunny day:
    Geff (my friend); Kenny (me)

    Geff: How do you know what you dont know?

    Kenny: How do you know what you know?

    {Geff was scratching his head} hmmnnnn…

    Kenny: Do you know you can answer a question with a question?

    end of conversation….

    What if this question is asked during job interview? hmmnnn…

    That’s a tough question, but i tried my best to answer it. However, I am not sure whether I have answered it correctly. Maybe there is a better answer to it.

    What are your possible answers if you are in my situation to answer such question from an interviewer?

    blogging is mind blogging eh.. 🙂

    new kid on the blog,
    Kenny W not G

  4. opps..correction..

    blogging is mind boggling eh.. 🙂

    Kenny W

  5. Geff: How do you know what you dont know?

    You don’t.

    Embrace ambiguity. Education is the process of increasing your ignorance.

  6. Geff and Steven, are you feeling very philosophical lately?

  7. Steven,

    If education is a process of increasing our ignorance, then what’s the point of education? It is true that theory is a way of seeing things (knowing) and also a way of not seeing things (ignorance). 🙂

    Rachel,

    You asked “Geff and Steven, are you feeling very philosophical lately?”. I think pursuing a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), we have to be philosophical at times. 🙂

  8. Kenny W — Although my comment was meant “tongue-in-cheek”, there is a large element of truth to it. A better metaphor might be that education increases the “sphere of ignorance”.

    As your sphere of knowledge increases, it increases the boundaries of your knowledge –> the amount of what you know you don’t know –> your sphere of ignorance.

    The serious part is this ties into a major difference between an applied master’s degree education (like an MBA or an MS in, say, library science) and a doctoral degree. When we teach master’s students they seek certainty–we’ll tell them the best way to do something, inform them of best practices, teach them about the most efficient and effective work methods.

    A doctoral education is more about learning where the boundaries of a field are. After all, one of the key elements for a successful research project is identifying a good research question. That’s about knowing where the point of ignorance is in the field (a.k.a. “gaps”).

    So, maybe it’s not too much of a stretch to say the entire point of a doctoral education is to expand your sphere of ignorance–in a useful way!

  9. • Will your spouse be willing to move here (or do you have other challenges related to moving)?
    • How old are you? You look like you are my children’s age.

    These are actually illegal questions to ask in a job interview

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