The Campus Visit

If you make the “short list” for a position, you will be invited for a “campus visit”. Here’s what to expect.

Remember: on paper all candidates at this stage are more or less equal—the department and committee now want to see which human being they want to work with and put in front of their classes; they are already interested in you or they wouldn’t be talking to you at all; they’ve read the texts (your letter, C.V., etc.), now they want to see the person whose self-interpretation has been constructed in those texts

Travel Arrangements:

-the hiring department will normally reimburse your expenses, but you will have to make the flight reservations, etc.: leave resting time (especially if jet lag is an issue); go early (weather, traffic problems)

-when arrangements are being made with the department, remember how important first impressions are: be flexible and pleasant; be forthright about other commitments; be co-operative

-you will likely be met (find out by whom) or will be given the name of the hotel where you will stay (ask); keep name and number of contact person and let her/him know if there are any delays; keep any receipts from taxis, etc. for reimbursement after the visit

The Institution:

-your enthusiasm for the position should be clear and based on facts; read websites; check publications of both committee members (find out who will interview you) and experts in your field in that department; ask your supervisor or others who might know the department; study their curriculum; try to find out about the students; prepare intelligent questions to get more information during the visit

The Place:

-know something about the town, city, etc. and region; be prepared to ask informed questions about what it is like to live there


-convey a neat, well-groomed, “professional” appearance: suit or jacket for males; dress, suit or pants-skirt/jacket for women; ask if there will be any informal events you will need to dress for; women should wear low heels and  be prepared to walk around campus, etc.; carry a briefcase for extra materials


-get enough sleep the night before to be at your best on the interview day

-find out in advance exactly what your schedule will be and what will be expected of you when. Possibilities:

-interviews (with hiring committee, with deans) (see separate information)

-informal coffee hours and more formal meals (with students, faculty)

-a research presentation (see the section under ‘conference paper’   information)

-a teaching presentation (get as much information as you can—level, who will be in the room, what you are expected to teach—and then tell the assembled folks what you’ve been told, so everyone has the same expectations)

-campus visit; city visit (find out lots in advance, so you can ask informed

questions; show interest in seeing both)

-according to surveys, hiring committees in our field say the ideal is the combination of intelligence, congeniality, awareness, adaptability and commitment to both teaching and research (that’s all!)

-don’t get paranoid, but you will be observed at all times

-don’t gossip–even at social events

-be forthcoming–don’t make them drag information out of you

-be enthusiastic about your work and yourself and THEM

-show you are actively engaged as a teacher and researcher, and that you are a human being with other interests

-coolness is often read as indifference

-everyone expects you to be nervous: sometimes admitting it will relax you and them (say it is because you are so interested in the job!)

-don’t be either apologetic or arrogant; be yourself (unless you are naturally apologetic or arrogant!)

-don’t smoke without permission

-always be courteous, respectful–and on time

-shake hands with all you meet; remember their names and say good-bye personally when you leave

At the Social Events (lunches, dinners, etc.):

-though these may seem more informal, all the above advice applies: you are still being observed and evaluated; never confide or say anything you may regret

-don’t talk about yourself all the time, but be forthcoming when asked; don’t talk “shop” all the time, unless everyone else does

-if you have no objection to doing so, drink if others do–but never very much; use “drug reaction”, etc. or other excuses or take a glass and drink only a little

-if you are out-going, you are lucky; if shy, try your best to be an active member of the group


-write to your contact person (usually the chair or the head of the hiring committee) and thank her or him for efforts on your behalf; ask her/him to convey your thanks to others.  Reiterate your interest in the position.

-keep a record of those you met: keep in touch with those with whom you have shared interests, but don’t be a bother


Don’t ever panic if you “blow” something!  You are only human—as are those interviewing and meeting you for the first time.  No one expects you to be perfect; indeed, they might well be suspicious of someone who appears too polished.

Linda Hutcheon