Computer Science Faculty Job Search
- CRA Jobs for postings of
This website and mailing list is the central place to find all open faculty
positions. Subscribe to the list in the Fall to find job announcements for
positions available for the next year.
- CRA Taulbee survey
Every year, CRA compiles information about the hiring process. Look here
for information such as current salaries and number of Ph.D's produced per year. It
also has a basic ranking of CS programs from a 1995 survey. However, if you
care about that sort of thing, you should compare it to the
News and World Report's ranking from 2002. If you don't want to pay
their fee to see the entire list, let me know and I'll email it to you until
I get a cease and desist letter.
- Tomorrow's Professor:
Preparing for Academic Careers in Science and Engineering, by Richard M.
This book is absolutely essential. Buy it. I found the section on questions
to ask during an interview to be the most important, although the entire
book is worthwhile.
Non-Computer Science Academic Job Resources
Tips from my own experience
My husband, Steve Zdancewic and
I recently completed a two-body job search, luckily with much success. We
will both be starting at the University of Pennsylvania in
Fall 2002. We were both solely interested in tenure-track faculty positions at
research universities, and
our research areas had quite a bit of overlap.
Here are some of our observations to get the most out of the entire process:
- Have fun! You will meet interesting and friendly people, travel
to many new places, and eat well.
- Remember to thank your host and
anyone else who is particularly helpful.
- Realize at the beginning that there is a lot of randomness involved. You
will spend a lot of time trying to figure out a better algorithm for this
process. Let me know if you come up with something.
- For couples, there are a number of options for when to reveal
the two-body problem.
- In the cover letter.
- On the phone when one
of you is invited to an interview.
We did it this way. It's pretty awkward, and if I did it all over
again, I would put it in the cover letter. However, it is reassuring
to hear, "Oh, we had no idea you were married, but we were going to invite
your spouse for interview too."
- Later, during the interview or after you have received an offer.
Only if you are not applying to the same department. It might be
a good idea to do so during the
interview if your spouse is also an academic. Afterwards is fine if your
spouse is not looking for a faculty position.
- Myths about two body problems.
- No school will hire two people in the same area.
If a school is weak in your area, hiring two people is a good
way to build it up quickly.
- Your best bet is two schools in the same place.
We were very lucky and a lot of schools wanted to hire multiple
people. Therefore we didn't have to worry about one of us "settling" for
a less good school. If you look at a map, there aren't very many top
schools geographically close to one another. Those
that are may not be hiring in your area.
- Schools won't be able
to make separate assessments of you.
Be prepared for a school to be dramatically more enthusiastic about
one of you than the other. While
it is encouraging to know that you are being judged independently, it
can be emotionally trying.
- Go to the top conference in your area right before interviewing. Talk to
- Talk to people at your school
(including your advisor) about where you should apply.
- Go ahead and talk to the "competition" --
other people who are also interviewing.
- It's good to talk to people who are doing the same thing as you are.
- You might learn something important that you missed on your interview.
- The schools gossip about you too.
- Don't dismiss a school just because
you haven't heard much about it. Places without people in your area are
some of your best opportunities.
- While in grad school, go to as
many hiring talks as you can. Some of the people you'll meet again on your
interview. You'll also learn how to give a
- Find out about the research going on at your own school, even if it is not
in your area.
- If you are excited by a school
LET THEM KNOW.
- Realize at the beginning that an interview is also a personality test.
- For couples interviewing in the same department, there are a number of scheduling
- Two separate interviews that may be up to two months apart
The advantage is timing: you won't have to worry about getting an early
offer and being forced to make a decision before you have heard from
other places. You also get a better chance to compare notes before the
second person's interview. The disadvantages: it's hard on the school
and it is easy for your spouse to completely color your experience.
- Two separate back-to-back interviews
If the two of you go together, one can scope out the town while the
other interviews. I found this type to be the most fun -- you have
your spouse there for support in the evening. However, it does take the most time as you may spend
up to 5 days in a single place.
- Two concurrent interviews
This usually takes place over two days. One person gives a talk the
first day, and the other the second. During both days you cross paths,
as you meet with faculty one-on-one. The disadvantage is that one person
may not get a
standard seminar slot, so the talk will be sparsely attended. Also,
the second person will have to talk to many people before the seminar,
which is less ideal.
- Top five questions you will be asked on an interview. Don't leave home
without answers to these. Luckily three of the answers are in your
- Do you have any questions? (See Tomorrow's Professor for a good supply
- What are you going to do next? (Even before asking about current
- Describe your research to me in 5 minutes. (If you haven't given your
- How will you make your decision about where to go?
- What would you like to teach?
- Go ahead and answer questions
such as "Where else do you have
interviews?" "Do you have any offers?"
- If they really want to know
they can easily find out.
- It's not a game to get the
most offers you can, the goal is to get the one offer you want.
- Questions that threw me off guard:
- Where do you get your inspiration? How do you do research?
- What will be the first thesis that you supervise?
- How do you evaluate research
in your area?
- Isn't programming languages a dead field that hasn't produced anything
worthwhile in the past 20 years?
- If you have an interview at MIT, practice the Great
- Take this opportunity to ask
people about being a professor. You'll be talking to a lot of people who
do what you want to do. This is
particularly useful if you want to find out how people balance work and
family, deal with two bodies in the same department (it's actually quite
common), or if there is some other specific concern you may have.
- You will get better at interviewing
as the season progresses. Don't put the school you most care about first
on your schedule.
- You will also get worn out during the interviews. If you are lucky enough
to get many interviews you may consider not accepting or even canceling some
of them. If you can stand it, it's good for you to go on as many as
possible. (You meet more people that way.) Perhaps next year when I see the
other side of faculty hiring, I'll find out whether schools want you to
cancel right away if you think you wouldn't accept their offer, or want to
have the chance to convince you to come.
- Ask for more time if you need it to make a decision. Take your time, and
don't feel guilty if you do. Although it seems like everyone around wants
you to decide as quickly as possible, it is your life. Second visits are a
- Buy a cell phone with a national plan.
- Hotels usually have dry cleaning service available. (Avoid desserts
covered in powdered sugar.)
- If you have food preferences, tell your host or the administrative
assistant that helps you with your travel plans. It's less awkward to
tell them ahead of time than at the restaurant.
- Interview schedules vary. Some are 1 full day, some two days with the
possibility of leaving in the afternoon of the second day, some are two
full days. Make sure you ask.
- It's probably not worth it
to volunteer your seat to get a free ticket, even if you are flying
- Have fun! You will meet interesting and friendly people, travel
to many new places, and eat well. I know I started with this one, but it
contains information from the Research,
Careers, and Computer Science: A Maryland Symposium, as well as resources
forwarded to me by symposium participants, and some found by web searching. Please let
know about any others that are available.
July 19, 2004