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Job search tips for research and/or teaching faculty

Get ready to start your search

  • Decide on the types of positions and institutions to pursue.
  • Consider your own career interests, skills, and values (you can do so in myIDP). Consider your competencies via UCSF's Academic Career Readiness Assessment.  Read tips from search committees on what they look for in faculty candidates.  These are general frameworks; use them to prompt your self-reflection. If you have questions or concerns, discuss with mentors and/or by appointment with cBCD staff.)
  • Get your name out there by networking. Speak at conferences.
  • Submit publications by the previous winter/spring so you can include them in your application package.

Find open positions

Prepare application materials 

  • You will usually submit a: curriculum vitae (CV), cover letter/letter of application, research statement, teaching statement, list of 3-5 references (or letters of reference).
  • Attend the annual cBCD workshop on how to create your application materials.
  • View annotated samples; additional strategies for developing your CV and cover letter.
  • Get started on your statement of teaching philosophy via an annual cBCD workshop, this article, or this website.
  • Ask multiple friends/colleagues/mentors to review your application materials. Get feedback from cBCD staff by appointment.
  • Request letters of recommendation several weeks in advance.
  • Be organized!  Keep track of the requirements, timeline, and your progress on each application in a spreadsheet.


Phone or Skype interviews

Interviewer’s goal: Select the top candidates for in-person interviews by having a short conversation to confirm the candidate’s perceived strengths and ability to communicate professionally

  • Schedule a quiet space with a landline or wired ethernet connection if possible. The Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences conference room can be reserved by contacting the cBCD.
  • Put a note on the door, “Interview in progress. Please do not interrupt.”
  • At the time of the interview, have a copy of the application materials you submitted, the job description, a pen and paper ready for taking notes, a list of questions you might want to ask, and water.
  • Expect to talk with several interviewers. Be ready to write down their names. If you are interviewing via Skype, write the names on a sticky note and place it next to the video camera ahead of time, so you can maintain eye contact.
  • Watch tips for how to look good for a Skype interview and setup your computer and space properly.
  • End each of your responses with a definitive statement, to make it clear that you have finished your response. On a phone call this is especially important because your interviewers will be missing visual cues.
  • Prepare 3 to 5 questions for the committee. Your questions should be informed by your knowledge of the department and institution, and envisioning yourself in the position.
  • Be confident and professional. We recommend dressing professionally and sitting with straight posture as you would if you were interviewing in-person.

In-person interviews

What to do when you are invited

  • At the time of invitation, express enthusiasm and ask clarifying questions about what to expect on the interview day. Have your list of questions written ahead of time.
  • Be prepared to ask for an itinerary for the visit, including information about the number and types of talks you will give (teaching, job, and/or chalk talk).
  • Think about your needs. You may ask to be accommodated for food allergies or medical needs. Consider asking for small breaks between your talks and meetings.
  • Thank the contact person and state you look forward to the interview.

What to bring

  • Wear comfortable, professional clothing and shoes that are comfortable for long day of standing and walking.
  • Bring mints, floss, a water bottle, small snacks that aren’t messy, and travel-sized stain remover.
  • For individual meetings bring: extra copies of your CV, reprints of your most impressive publications
  • If pursuing a dual-career search, bring your partner’s CV (whether or not you plan to discuss this, be prepared just in case the topic arises). Schedule an appointment to discuss your strategy.
  • For the job [and teaching] talk bring: your slides on a USB drive (and a back-up copy), laser pointer and slide advancer (get comfortable using your own prior to interviews). 
  • For the chalk talk bring: dry erase markers or chalk.

Job talk

Interviewer’s goal: Determine your potential for being a leader in your field and your ability to clearly communicate your research findings in the context of their significance to the field

  • Expect a 45-minute seminar on your research (mainly your current work with a preview of your future research plan).
  • Attend faculty candidate seminars at UMass Chan and observe the organization of the talk and delivery.
  • Deliver a talk appropriate for your audience. At a research-intensive institution, your audience may include faculty and trainees from a variety of disciplines. At a primarily undergraduate institute (PUI), your audience may represent even broader academic disciplines and include undergraduates.
  • Practice your talk in front of colleagues/mentors and get feedback on both content and delivery.
  • Be dynamic and engaging. Search committees have commented that jobs were lost because of unimpressive talks.
  • Additional job talk tips (and see additional resources below)

Chalk talk

Interviewer’s goal: Determine if you can convey the significance and impact of your future research plans

  • Organize the chalk talk like you would a grant application.
  • Present the big picture clearly. Give a brief research overview for individuals that missed your job talk.
  • Clearly communicate your specific aims and the significance for the field.
  • Explain why your approach is best, but be ready to discuss alternative strategies.
  • Be prepared for the size and breadth of the audience. Your audience could be 3 people on the search committee or open to the department.
  • Be flexible. You may be interrupted with questions.
  • Be confident and in control, but not arrogant or defensive.
  • Be prepared to use slides or chalkboard/whiteboard. Regardless, consider writing your specific aims on the board (or provided as a handout) to keep your audience on track.
  • If using the chalkboard, plan your use of space ahead of time. What will you draw or write on the board in advance?  
  • Additional tips for giving a great chalk talk (and see additional resources below)

Teaching talk

Interviewer’s goal: Determine your ability to organize and deliver an engaging talk that is appropriate for the undergraduate level

  • Only institutions with a strong teaching focus will ask for a teaching talk.
  • Ask whether your talk will be a lecture on a real course or a simulated situation.
  • Prepare and use lecture materials appropriately, such as clear presentation slides and handouts. Bring copies of handouts or other materials--do not expect the site to provide them.
  • Additional tips for giving a teaching demonstration during an interview.

One-on-one interviews

Interviewer’s goal: Gauge your scientific interests and ideas and determine whether you will be a good fit as a colleague

  • Expect 30-45 minutes per person. Be engaging, because each person may give feedback to the search committee.
  • Start with a brief “Tell me about yourself” statement. This prepared statement serves as a starting point for conversation.
  • Summarize your research in 5 minutes or less – in case the individual hasn’t seen your job talk.
  • Discuss your research in-depth with faculty in your field. Look for potential collaborators.
  • Focus on big-picture for faculty outside your field. Ask questions to show your interest.
  • Jot down notes about each discussion during your breaks or at the end of the day. The notes will help when writing thank you notes.
  • See additional resources below for more tips

Interview follow-up

  • Reflect on your experience. Will the environment fit you personally and professionally?
  • Write a thank you e-mail to each person you met within a day or two. Express appreciation for their time and also comment on something specific and interesting that you learned from your conversation.


  • When you get an offer, express enthusiasm. Be careful not to accept or reject any aspect of the offer. Instead, ask to receive the offer in writing, which will allow you to thoughtfully consider the details.
  • Expect to negotiate. Thoughtfully consider what you need to succeed--for your research and for your own personal well-being. 
  • Negotiate with confidence by first researching typical packages and salaries.
  • Determine what you can negotiate for (space, start-up funds including equipment/materials/students/staff, teaching/clinical/service responsibilities, and your own salary). Other common negotiation items include relocation expenses, house hunting visits, house payment assistance, child care placement, parking, start date, and assistance with dual career search.
  • Negotiating salary is standard practice. Academic raises and retirement contributions tend to be percentages of your salary. Even a small bump-up in starting salary that is insignificant for your employer will result in a significant difference for you in the future.
  • Consider strategically indicating to other institutions that you have received an offer. Consult your mentors about how best to leverage this information.
  • Additional tips for negotiating an academic job offer (and see additional resources below)

Local resources

  • Attend a cBCD workshop on the Academic Job Search. Review slides from the presentation on the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences intranet.
  • Receive feedback from cBCD staff on your application materials, or discuss interview and negotiation strategies for your academic job search.
  • Read materials in the Job Search Skills section of the cBCD Special Collection in the Lamar Soutter Library, especially "The Academic Job Search Handbook."

Additional resources

  • Videocasts developed by the NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education: scroll down to the section "Academic Careers" for videos on topics such as applying and interviewing, giving a job talk, evaluating an offer and negotiation, and transitioning from postdoc to PI.