Academic job interviews

What to expect

Selection processes for postdoctoral positions, fellowships (teaching or research) and lectureship positions usually include an interview stage.

Academic interviews may include some or all of the following:

  • Formal panel interview
  • Individual discussions with academics in the department
  • Job talk and/or presentation
  • Informal networking such as a lunch or dinner

Usually in the UK a lectureship interview includes all of the above.

How to prepare

Prepare for your interview by:

  • Reviewing your application materials
  • Finding out who will be on the interview panel and their research interests and departmental responsibilities. It is fine to ring up to ask about this.
  • Doing some background research on the research project, department and university. Find out who works there and what their research interests are. Tip: Search their website as if you were a prospective student to find out what courses are available and how they teach.
  • Thinking about how your research and teaching experience fits with them and what you can bring to the department and project
  • Anticipating questions the interviewers may ask and practising your answers (Tip: Use our list of typical interview questions [pdf])
  • Having a practice interview with the LSE PhD/research staff careers consultant (Book an appointment with the PhD Careers Consultant on CareerHub)

Typical interview questions

View or download a list of typical academic interview questions| [pdf] collected from feedback from real-life interviews.

Job talks and presentations at interviews

Here are some tips for preparing and delivering your job talk/interview presentation:

  • Check if they give you a topic or brief
  • Think about your audience – how close are they to your field? Adapt your content to them
  • Stick exactly to the timings they give you
  • If you are talking about your research make sure you talk about why it is worth doing – it's probably less obvious than you think!

Practice interview appointments

PhD students can book a 30 minute one to one appointment with the PhD Careers Consultant Dr Madelaine Chapman to practice for an interview or discuss any aspect of careers. Book an appointment on CareerHub|.

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