For Candidates: How to Plan a Campus Visit

If you get a request for a campus visit:

  • Keep a careful written record of everything: you will often be notified by phone, so transfer all information to your Googledocs Spreadsheet: the dates, who called, etc. If they don’t send you a detailed email with all the information within a week, feel free to send a gentle reminder.
  • Be prepared to ask the following questions when you get the call:
    • What does the department expect in terms of the job talk (length, who will be in the audience, length of Q&A, multimedia options, when do they need the title of the talk)?
    • Will you have the opportunity to meet with other academic units/programs – and can you send a follow-up e-mail to the chair with suggestions?
    • What airport should you fly into (you’d be surprised at how few schools will remember to specify) and what time should you arrive/leave?
    • Does the department reimburse for expenses besides the flight (for example, airport parking, airport meals)?
  • You should feel comfortable asking for accommodations for your situation (within reason), not only obvious ones like accessibility or food preferences, but anything that you think might give you a better sense of the school and position, including
    • A tour of the surrounding city/town, especially if there is faculty housing
    • An opportunity to meet with undergrads/grad students
    • A meeting with specific faculty that you might anticipate working with or who can offer special insight into the department/college/city
  • Schedule a mock job talk with your department. Make sure to personally invite anyone who you think would ask hard (but fair-minded) questions, both among faculty and graduate students. Try to get it recorded (and actually watch it afterwards).
  • Get back in contact once again with your academic network. Let them know when you’ll be doing your visits. Direct them once again to your academic website to refresh their memories. Especially if you can find someone who has direct knowledge of the institution you’re interviewing at (and who you are at least cordial with), try to get answers to the following questions:
    • How might the department respond to your particular job talk topic? (Are there many experts in your field there? Is your chosen topic general/specific enough to address the job requirements?)
    • Are there any known “hecklers” that are likely to give you a hard time? (The point is not to ignore or dismiss those people, but rather to learn their faces and then, ideally, not call on them first during the Q&A)
    • Similarly, are there any likely “allies” that will be especially receptive to your project/candidacy? (Again, look up their faces)
  • Update your cheat sheet. While doing further research on the institution, jot down some names/academic units you’d like to visit and send a polite request for a meeting to the committee chair.
  • Carefully review the detailed itinerary they send you (or request one): let them know if anything is missing or if you don’t understand what any particular event entails.

 

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