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Showing posts from December, 2012

How to get a faculty job, Part 2: The interview

This is the second (actually, third!) part of a several-part series on getting a faculty job in Computer Science. In Part 1, I talked about the application process. In Part 1b, I gave some details about how hiring committees decide whom to bring in for interviews. In this part I'll talk about what it takes to nail the interview itself.

Faculty job interviews are generally one or two (long) days. The main components are the all-important job talk; meeting with countless faculty, deans, and students; and usually some kind of fancy dinner. All of these components are essential to getting a job offer.

The process of interviewing is exhausting. Two full days of talking with people can really wear you out, especially since you need to be "on" all the time. As I'll explain below, any kind of dinner or social outing is not in fact a chance to take a break, since you're being evaluated during those times as well.

Planning travel: Usually, schools will pay for your travel …

How to get a faculty job, part 1b: How to get an interview

Back in Part 1 of this series on how to get a faculty job, I said there would be three parts in total. Well, I lied. I realized it would also be helpful to shed light on the process as seen by a faculty hiring committee, so in this post I'll augment Part 1 with a little behind-the-scenes of how hiring committees read and rank applications, and how interviews are granted. The "real" Part 2 will be about the interview itself, and Part 3 about negotiating the offer.

I served on the hiring committee at Harvard back in 2008 when we hired three great new Computer Science faculty: Krzysztof Gajos, Steve Chong, and Yiling Chen. It was an exhausting, months-long search with a dozen or so interviews for multiple openings (it had been a few years since we had any faculty openings and we really opened up the floodgates). So I have a little sense of how the sausage is made.

It's a complex process and utterly opaque for the poor applicant, who will usually not hear anything for m…

How to get a faculty job, Part 1: The application

This is going to be the first in a series of three blog posts on getting a faculty job in Computer Science. Part one is about applying for the job. Part two will be about doing interviews. And part three will be about negotiating the offer and making a decision.

I did my faculty job search back in 2002 after finishing my PhD at UC Berkeley. Back then, academic Computer Science departments were hiring like crazy and the number of job openings far outstripped the number of highly-qualified applicants. I ended up with something like a dozen interviews, and also interviewed at IBM Research (both coasts), HP Labs, and a little search engine startup called Google. (I regret not having interviewed at Microsoft Research, but at the time I was dead-set on an academic position and had a hard time seeing myself working at MSR.) I got offers at all of the industry places and several of the universities; and ended up taking a faculty job at Harvard.

The process of getting an academic job is treme…