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Human resources

  • Contact the HR organization and ask your questions if information is not on-line
    • You don’t have to identify yourself
    • Prepare ahead of time to formulate your questions clearly
  • Ask about resources for new faculty, partner placement, health insurance, retirement, family leave policy, anything that matters to you

Asking questions at the interview

Carefully plan the questions to ask

  • You don’t want to offend your hosts
    • Be polite, calm, and friendly
  • You DO want to get the information
    • Be curious, not demanding
    • Repeat questions, but only a few questions with everyone, to get an integrated view
  • Be sure to ask the Chair and/or Dean, as appropriate all the questions that are most critical for you

A good chair?

  • Will know what you are likely to need
    • For your own use, for access to equipment
  • Will have your needs in mind
  • Will explain what is available and how to get access to what you need
  • Will give information about the graduate program and will arrange time with graduate students

Resource issues

If a critical resource is not present, plan carefully how to inquire about this issue with the Chair/Dean/Faculty

  • Equipment – will the start-up package provide what you need for your work?
  • Shared equipment – where is the ancillary equipment you need available?

Talking points

Apocryphal story: Nobel Laureate wrote: “This is the best student I’ve ever had; if you don’t hire this person, I will have no respect for you or your department.” Most letters with no information hold little sway, but this individual was highly influential in the field and was known not to make such statements lightly. Most letters are more detailed, providing thoughtful commentary on your body of work and your professional style.

Questions for faculty

  • Ask a limited set of questions consistently
    • Gives you a sense of the culture
    • Allows you to see what may be “on the books” but does not happen
  • Ask about the seminar program
    • Provides opportunity for interaction with leading scholars that may write a tenure letter
    • Does the department encourage junior faculty involvement?
  • Ask about mentoring programs?
    • Find out carefully from junior faculty if they work

Resource issues

  • Other questions to explore gently with faculty and with students
    • What is support for graduate students?
    • Are there travel funds for graduate students?
    • How do the students interact across labs?
  • Gather information with finesse and without evident judgment on what the department does
  • What is “on the books” but does not happen?

Culture of the department

  • Be sensitive to the “unspoken” issues that will be evident in attitude/style
  • Ask “innocuous” questions, particularly of the students, designed to garner a sense of their collegial spirit
    • Is there a place the graduate students go have a beer on Fridays?
    • Our department has a retreat each year, and I was wondering if you do as well.
    • Riskier, but informative: Ask student Y to tell you what student X does in the lab.
  • Attend to the non-verbal messages
    • What feeling do you get from each encounter?
    • Is your gut screaming? If so, listen to it, but don’t manifest that response.
    • Do you get a sense of empathy/moral support in the department? Is that important to you?

Two-body challenge

  • When do you indicate that you have a partner who also needs a job?Choices:
    • On your application – probably not the best time
    • In the interview – very helpful to the Chair who wants to recruit you, as it gives time to do the legwork necessary
    • After the offer – if the institution knows they cannot provide a second position or takes significant time to figure that out, both they and you are negatively impacted by the delay
  • Impacts differ depending on circumstance
    • Large city, easily employable partner = minimal problem
    • Large city, multiple universities = medium problem
    • Small community and/or smaller institution, partner in same (or even different) department = larger challenge for institution
  • It is easier to deal with the challenge sooner rather than later, but you may want the Department to know you and want you before you raise the issue
  • If your partner is already known in the intellectual community, the department may already know that there is a two-body challenge
    • Remember it is a very small world
    • Don’t be purposely deceptive, but DO choose the timing for discussing this issue thoughtfully
    • Be aware that some faculty (or graduate students or sometimes even Chairs) will ask you about this issue, despite the fact that it is illegal to do so. Have a prepared response.

Dealing with the information

What do you do if the one offer you receive is not compatible with something you care about?

  • You love to ski, and the offer is in Florida
  • Think globally about what you are doing
    • Can you find ways to schedule your activities that bring together what you have available professionally and what you need personally?

Have a positive attitude

Even if you have qualms about a department, be positive!

  • Faculty may someday write your tenure letters
  • Graduate students choose post-doctoral advisors
  • You never know when your path will cross again in an important way with someone in the department

Department personality

Every Department has a personality

  • Pay attention carefully to pick up the underlying sense of the Department
  • Listen to your “gut” and how it feels within that setting
    • Remember to set-aside your own issues and nervousness and pay attention to the Department
  • When you come away from the process, relax a little, how do you feel about the Department? Write down your thoughts


  • Review your options in the context of your values
  • Imagine yourself as part of the Department, part of the community, living in that setting
  • Talk to your colleagues, your friends, your family, those that know you best and share your process — use their feedback in making the decision

Living with your decision

  • Whatever your decision, go into the position with a positive attitude
  • Seek out mentors (even if the Department has a mentoring program) and interact with them
  • Find effective colleagues both inside and outside your Department and engage them
  • Find the things that you ENJOY in the community and DO THEM!

Questions & Answers

what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
how to synthesize TiO2 nanoparticles by chemical methods
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Rice university’s nsf advance program’s negotiating the ideal faculty position workshop master collection of presentations. OpenStax CNX. Mar 08, 2012 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11413/1.1
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