Cover Story

A waterfall

A panel of up-and-coming professors will offer pointers on the academic application and interview process at the APA 2004 Annual Convention session, "Assistant professor applicant tips on the job market application process," Friday, July 30, at noon. Advice they will offer includes:

  • Find your match. Spend time researching potential universities and investigating a particular department's theoretical orientation, for example, before applying for a job there, says session presenter Matthew K. Nock, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University.

Peruse the department Web site and take note of the research and teaching activities of the current faculty, suggests Nock.

Expectations of research productivity, clinical responsibilities and teaching duties all vary from school to school, Nock explains, so graduate students should determine how they want to spend their time and apply to programs that match up well with their career goals.

  • Survive interview day. Once a search committee has whittled down the field to three or four candidates, those applicants are typically flown to the school for a full day of meetings, says session co-chair Mitchell Prinstein, PhD, an associate psychology professor at Yale University. Deans, professors, students and even real-estate brokers are among the people a prospective assistant professor can expect to meet.

Selling oneself that day should be every applicant's first priority, says Prinstein.

For example, he says, if you feel kinship with the university's educational philosophy or the department's theoretical orientation, say so.

Also, ask questions about staffing and compensation decisions to help you decide whether to join the staff, Prinstein notes.

  • Ace the job talk. The most critical part of the interview day is the job talk-usually an hour-long lecture during which you present your work to date as well as your future research plans, says Douglas S. Mennin, PhD, an assistant psychology professor at Yale University, also on the panel.

The biggest mistake applicants make during this lecture is focusing on the minutia of their past research while leaving out the larger context of their work, says Mennin.

"Show you have a vision-you don't have to just stick to one study, or even your own work," he explains. And don't be too wooden. "Allow your personality to come through," says Mennin.