I am about to finish my phd and have been frustrated with the toxic politics and culture of my department.

During the job search, what are some specific things I can do to learn about the internal political environment of the hiring department?

I am not talking about their personal political beliefs, but instead the politics of how things are decided in the department, whether people respect each other, whether there are camps fighting for power, etc.

I want to avoid ending up in a department with similar political problems as the one I'm in now.


1 Answer 1


One measure of the politics within a department is the faculty member's attitude towards collaborations. When I was touring grad schools as a prospective PhD student I remember interviewing with a faculty member. I asked her if she collaborated with other faculty within the department or other departments. She answered dismissively and instead asked me why I was interested in asking such questions and why it mattered whether she was involved in collaborations. If you get such a response, or sense such attitudes, this might imply there is an unhealthy dose of hostility or competition between faculty within the department.

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