Publication Date

December 1, 1994

For the fourth consecutive year, the AHA's Professional Division, together with the Coordinating Committee on Women in the Historical Profession/Conference Group on Women's History, will offer a mock interview session for prospective job candidates. Last year, approximately a hundred participants sought the advice of a dozen established scholars about successful interviewing strategies. During the session, job candidates practiced answering some of the more difficult questions that come up in interviews, and they also received advice about simple matters. They learned that

  • They should accept a cup of water or coffee if it is offered. If they find, however, that their hands are shaking, they should leave the drink on the table during the interview.
  • It's acceptable to take notes during an interview and to ask interviewers to clarify questions.
  • It's wise for candidates to try to speak with at least one publisher about their dissertation before they begin to interview. Candidates who plan to interview through the Job Register at the annual meeting might want to talk to editors at the book exhibit before they arrive at their interview.
  • Being succinct is important. Candidates should consider preparing a standard statement about the significance of their dissertation. The statement should be worded so that all of the members of a search committee—including those whose specialites differ from the candidate's—can easily understand it.
  • Job candidates should think about what kinds of courses they would like to teach and which books they would use in the courses.
  • It's important to have questions for interviewers. Candidates should not, however, ask about money in a first interview. Instead, they could ask about research support, teaching load, library services, or intellectual life on campus.
  • Candidates must speak positively but cautiously about when they will complete their dissertations. Schools are increasingly asking job candidates to forward chapters of their dissertations.

This year's mock interview session will be held on Friday, January 6, at 9:30 a.m., in the Hilton's Williford Room C. College and university faculty members and public historians will once again divide attendees into small groups for mock interviews and discussion.

Job seekers may find the following publications helpful: Darley, John M., Kathryn C. Oleson, and Mark P. Zanna. "How to Do Well in the Academic Job Interview." APS Observer (November 1993): 24–26. Gustafson, Melanie, ed. Becoming a Historian: A Survival Manual for Women and Men. Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1991. Morgan, Kathleen. “A Guide to the Academic Job Search.” Parts 1–3. APS Observer (September 1992): 28–29; (January 1993): 29, 31; (March 1993): 26–28. Perlman, Baron, Susan McFadden, and Lee McCann. “How to Land That First Teaching Job.” APS Observer (March 1994): 18–19.

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