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Russell - academic interview experiences
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Name: Russell
PhD discipline: History
Area(s) of work: BBC archives; university teaching
Year of graduation: 1998
Date of Interview: 02/06/2008

Now Playing: Russell - academic interview experiences
Russell recalls the preparation he undertook before academic job interviews.

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Would you just tell me a bit about the interview experiences for academic jobs? I know you talked to me a bit about the temporary jobs but when you went for your first proper interview for an academic position. 

I had about, I've had about, I had about four of five interviews elsewhere and I didn't get them so I don't know, I can't give a kind of killer answer that comes with 'this is how you get a job'. What I – a kind of negative thing on one of them – I definitely went there and as soon as I got there I knew who was going to get the job. It was definitely going to be the internal candidate and it was bizarre, there were four of us at one end of the room who'd come for an interview and the other one who was the internal candidate at the other end of the room with all the people who were interviewing him kind of having a drink and a laugh and you just thought, we just thought, looked at each other and thought this just isn't going to be our day, they're going through the motions. At a couple of the others I think I came quite close. One thing that was useful that I got wrong on one of them was you have to do a presentation and I did a presentation on my current research and what somebody said to me afterwards was 'you shouldn't have done it on your current research in the narrowest sense, you should have told them about everything you've ever done and told them your research history and build a big picture of the scope of your research and that kind of thing'. So, for example, I went in there and told them what I think about, 'I'm doing Oswald Moseley and the New Party' and they said I should have gone in and said 'I do British politics between the years and I've looked at this dimension and that dimension and all this kind of stuff and so you should paint yourself as big as possible' so I think that would be quite useful. In terms of the actual face to face interviews, all of them that I've had, there've been about four or five people and they've all been relatively quite jolly really, just asking again what kind of work are you planning to do in the future, what kind of courses can you teach, how flexible are you in terms of what you would teach, how do you lay out your seminars and all that kind of stuff. They liked, it's always good to have a big project in mind for the future because they'd like to know where, if money's coming in and that kind of stuff. Umm, like I say, I didn't get those jobs. (laughter)

Did you prepare for any of those interviews?

Yeah, yeah, quite a lot. I kind of looked at the – the main thing I did was look at the university website and find out, how they build themselves, how they presented themselves, how they worded their specialisms and how they kind of chose to present themselves really and I made sure I had an idea of who was in the department, particularly who was relevant to me so you know, you could say, that if I was in this department I would fit in with so and so and I'd complement what they do rather than, you know, eclipse it, I'd complement what they do. So that comes in. I had a knowledge of the institution I was going to be interviewed with, both the staff and their presentation of themselves.

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