Applying for a faculty position at a North American university is different from applying for a regular job. Applicants have to submit several specialized documents and the interview process is much more in-depth.
Academic jobs can be posted at any time, but many American and Canadian tenure-track jobs are posted in the late summer/early fall. Applications are generally due between early November and mid-December. There is a secondary market in the spring for shorter, fixed-term positions.
Key Application Materials
For most faculty positions the following application materials will need to be submitted:
In addition to a cover letter, CV, and recommendation letters there are several other documents that might be required as part of the application. These could include a teaching portfolio, sample syllabi, a writing sample, research statement, or a statement of teaching philosophy.
There will be multiple rounds of interviews for faculty positions. After reviewing all the applications, the search committee will create a shortlist of 15 to 25 candidates. In many fields, the first-round of interviews take place at the discipline’s national association conference. Candidates might be asked to provide secondary material before the interview such as a writing sample. Conference interviews usually last half an hour and will take place in a hotel room, suite, or cubicle in the conference centre. If the field doesn’t conduct conference interviews, first-round interviews will be done over Skype. Regardless of the format, the candidate will be asked about things like their dissertation, publications, plans for future projects, teaching, and course development. After these interviews are complete, the search committee will narrow down the shortlist. The remaining candidates are then ranked by the entire department and the top three are flown out for individual on-campus interviews.
The Campus Interview
Each of the top three applicants will spend a day on two on campus. During this time, they will have several one on one meetings/interviews with the search committee, departmental faculty, the department head, and even the dean. Each candidate will give a “job talk” lecture on their research to the faculty, grad students, and undergrads in the department. The job talk is followed by a Q&A and sometimes a reception. Many campus interviews will also include a teaching demonstration, where the candidate will prepare a sample lesson for undergraduate students. During the visit, the candidate will get a tour of campus and also eat meals with members of the faculty and search committee.
Making an Offer
After the campus interviews are complete, the department will make its final decision. Once they get permission from the administration to make the offer, the chair will contact the successful applicant and offer them the position. The candidate will then receive the contract and the time frame to accept it (usually one to two weeks). If the candidate turns down the offer, the department may make an offer to their second choice candidate or there may be a failed search.
If the candidate accepts the offer, the chair of the search committee will contact the other finalists and let them know that the position has been filled.