A faculty interview is short, whether it be a skype one or an onsite one. Esp for the former, as interviewers have tight and non-negotiable time limits, it's so short that there's little space beyond answering the interviewers' direct questions. In a short interview, as one invariably improvises, no matter how well they were prepared, it seems. Many rehearsed lines (not necessarily the exact wording, but topics planned to highlight) are forgotten. How to bring into full play what was prepared?

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    A faculty interview is short, whether it be a skype one or an onsite one. --- Apparently this is very field and/or country dependent, because I've had 15 to 20 (possibly more) onsite interviews, and each lasted a full day with various people (pretty much all day with the committee chair, who shepherded me around), and most of them included a car tour of the town (sights to see, possible places to live, etc.), at least a couple of meals (lunch and dinner, at least one of which was at a moderately nice restaurant), meeting with some math students, Dean/Provost meeting, HR/Benefits meeting, ... – Dave L Renfro Apr 17 at 7:30
  • My department had an hours-long discussion at a recent faculty retreat, where we eventually agreed to reduce our faculty interviews from two full days (breakfast through dinner) to "only" a day and a half. This is utterly standard in the US, at least in computer science. On the other hand, European faculty interviews do tend to be much shorter. – JeffE Apr 17 at 17:47
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    I imagine you have seen a politician interviewed on TV where they don't actually answer the questions of the interviewer but keep saying the lines they have prepared regardless of what they were asked. Does that make you want to vote for that politician? – Alexander Woo Apr 17 at 17:57
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    @Alexander Woo: ... but keep saying the lines they have prepared regardless ... --- Unfortunately it seems to me a reasonable assumption that this works sufficiently well and sufficiently often to be a useful strategy, otherwise politicians would not have continued doing this for decades (centuries? millennia?). – Dave L Renfro Apr 18 at 8:05
  • @AlexanderWoo good point. do u think i should learn from the politicians – feynman Apr 25 at 2:10

Don't overthink it.

In a skype interview, you're right, it is mostly their questions. Answer them directly, and maybe keep 2 points in mind that you really want to make when they give you a chance to lead the conversation for a few minutes.

For on-site interviews, it's a long day or two, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to say the things you want to say.

I suggest you trust that the important things will come to light during the interview. If you forget one or two things you wanted to say, that omission is very unlikely to determine the success or failure of your interview. The overall picture that the department gets of you is much more important -- is your research strong? does it fit well with the department? will you be a good teacher? a good colleague? I suspect that the "rehearsed lines" will be less important, in the scheme of things.

  • great answer. what if i should've said about my pedagogy when asked about teaching experiences, but i ended up forgetting to say. they never asked about pedagogy in particular – feynman Apr 17 at 2:25
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    Then don't worry about it. If you really feel there's an important element of your pedagogy that they should know, send a short note letting them know. But my best guess is that it won't affect your application in any significant way. – LarrySnyder610 Apr 17 at 2:28

"In a short interview, as one invariably improvises, no matter how well they were prepared, it seems."

I disagree. If you practice enough, you can give prepared answers. Just like any other kind of performance, interviewing needs to be practiced. More practice will lead to better results.

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