After seeing

I wonder what some good examples of questions are to ask interviewers during an interview for a postdoc or visiting assistant professor position?

I am not sure questions like "how much travel funds do you give to a postdoc every year", "what kind of classes I am expected to teach" (for math postdocs teaching is usually inevitable), "do I have any chances to teach graduate level classes", "what are the expectations for my research?" (for pure math there is a lot of uncertainties since it is hard to publish papers), etc. are considered as good questions. What are your suggestions for questions?

Basically, candidates always want to make interviewers happy and increase their chance of being hired through questions. I have heard that asking no questions is considered bad (people say if you don't ask us questions then you are probably not very interested in us. But sometimes no-questions means no doubts --- namely they completely trust their potential employers, though), but I am not sure. I am from math community but feel free to talk about other areas.

2 Answers 2


My background for the anecdotes here are that I'm in computational math, had a few postdoc offers in the 2020 cycle and have a TT job now.

  • Questions about what courses and levels of courses you'll be teaching are totally reasonable if asked politely. If you do something in demand, you can offer to design a course in your specialty (if you're willing).

  • You could ask about whether you'll have access to the university's career services when you're looking for your subsequent jobs

  • Will you have access to grant writing support services as a postdoc?

  • What are the interviewers' favorite part of living in their area?

  • (if you do any computation whatsoever) access to supercomputing

To be frank, you've got little leverage coming in as a postdoc. People care about your capacity to do research and not totally bungle lectures. If you're invited to ask questions at some point, you're looking to ask things that give an opportunity for the interviewers to say positive things. Harder questions can come later if you have an offer in hand.

  • Thanks! Do you consider not asking any questions at all as a good approach?
    – No One
    Commented Mar 10 at 18:29
  • 1
    @NoOne That would be very weird and asocial. Commented Mar 10 at 19:25

For postdoc position, involvement in research, mentoring opportunities, research independence, grant writing, travel to conferences, training and skill building opportunities, future job prospects, network of advisor are important. You can ask what are their expectations regarding research, teaching, and extension.

Postdoc responsibilities largely depends upon your supervisor’s expectations. And hiring decision is—most of the time—solely based on faculty's interest. Based on my experience, networking, your skills, and ability to do job have higher influence on hiring decisions compared to your performance during interviews.

Still try to show that you are interested in the position and ask questions that shows you will become an asset to them by framing questions in the way that convey message that you are useful to them. In other words, instead of asking questions such as how would you train me to be a faculty, you should ask how can I help you in research/teaching/extensions so you will benefit from me. That shows you are good candidate for them. At postdoc level, it’s more about selling you to hiring faculty rather than they selling the position to you.

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