Find academic work
Finding academic work carries different challenges than other types of career exploration. We can help!
The Academic Search Process
Are you a research-stream doctoral candidate looking to pursue a career in the academy? Career Exploration & Education can help you put your best foot forward. We offer support for all application materials (cover letters, CVs, teaching dossiers, teaching philosophy statements, research statements, etc.) as well as academic interviews. Additionally, you can make use of the Graduate Dossier Service (GDS) — a depository of confidential letters of reference and transcripts. GDS forwards these documents (upon request) to institutions who are hiring. Have a look at the Graduate Dossier Service or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-978-8015.
PhD candidates and postdoctoral fellows can attend our once per term themed week where we will discuss all aspects of applying and interviewing for academic work – check the Career & Co-curricular Learning Network (CLNx) for details and to register. We also offer the same content as customized sessions for individual departments – send an email to email@example.com to request a session for your department or student group. Finally, individual candidates can bring their full application to Career Exploration & Education for a review with a Career Educator – visit our front desk, call us at 416-978-8000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.
Additional professional development resources at the University of Toronto and beyond that would be useful in developing core academic competencies (research, communication, personal effectiveness, and teaching) include:
- The Graduate Professional Skills Program organized by the School of Graduate Studies is the best place to learn about all professional development opportunities open to graduate students.
- The Ontario Consortium for Graduate Professional Skills (of which the University of Toronto is a contributing member) offers a full suite of free online content just for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows: My Grad Skills. All you need is your University of Toronto email address to sign up.
Create Your Academic CV + Cover Letter
Learn how to format and organize your CV and cover letter to market yourself to academic, research or post-doctoral positions.
Academic interviews and questions
Many of the interview techniques used for non-academic interviews can be used to prepare for interviews for academic positions, but there are a few differences.
Interviews at conferences
Interviews at conferences are often an initial “get to know you” interview. It will always be followed up by a more formal application and, if invited, a visit to the university.
The campus visit
The campus visit may include an interview with the full committee, individual meetings with committee members, a meeting with the dean, a partial lecture, social events and a job talk. The job talk is a presentation related to your current research interests.
When you get an invitation to an interview, do your homework. Be realistic – it takes a lot of time to prepare for a job interview, and practice potential questions.
- Be prepared to say what your course of research is – beyond your dissertation.
- In many academic fields, you need to identify an end-goal in answering the question: where do I want to work?
- Let your job interview presentation not be your first presentation – practice your talk repeatedly and try to know who your audience will be (faculty, researchers, other students, etc.). Tailor your talk to your audience. Be sure to leave room for questions – do not go over time!
At the interview
Say how you will contribute to the unit: courses you would be interested in teaching and how your research contributes to the department.
After the interview, send an email to each person who interviewed you thanking them for their time and consideration.
Sample interview questions
Interest and fit with position and department
- How has your education prepared you to work for our institution?
- Why are you interested in our university? What do you know about us?
- How do you see yourself fitting into this department?
- Tell me about your research and dissertation.
- What contribution does your dissertation make to the field?
- How will you go about revising your dissertation for publication?
- Can you explain the value of your work to someone outside of your discipline?
- What unique contributions could you make to this department?
- What resources will you need to conduct your research?
- What are your plans for securing funding to support your research?
- What research topics might you recommend to get grants?
- What do you see as the learning needs of students in this department and area?
- Describe your teaching style.
- Give me an example of your curriculum development abilities? Take me through the steps of how you developed the curriculum for the course that you taught at …..
- What characteristics do you think are important to be a good instructor or professor?
- What is your teaching philosophy?
- What courses will you be able to teach?
- Do you have any new courses you would like to develop?
- What has been your biggest challenge in your dissertation?
- How would you instruct and guide undergraduate research with students?
- How many PhD students will you be able to supervise?
- How would you go about finding students to work with you?
Questions to ask your interviewers:
- What support is provided for new faculty members?
- What is the teaching course load for the first few years?
- What are the research expectations of new faculty members?
- What financial support is provided to set-up a new lab?
- How are new faculty members evaluated?