Screening Interview Preparation for Positions in Academia

Interview practice online in Aggie Job Link

An online practice interview module is available through the UC Davis Aggie Job Link (AJL). Steps: Login >> Resources >>Keyword Search "ICC academic" to record your responses to interview questions, review the results and repeat.

Search committees are increasingly using an online (e.g., Skype, Blackboard Collaborate, WebX) or phone screening interview in addition to the campus interview to narrow the pool of candidates. This is true for faculty (e.g., tenure and non-tenure track) and research positions (including postdoc positions). Below are tips and suggestions for preparing for both the screening interview as well as the on-campus interview.

What is a screening Interview?

Academic institutions are increasingly using a 20-30 minute screening interview to narrow down the candidate pool for on-campus interviews. You can expect to answer 4-6 interview questions in this timeframe.

Tips and Suggestions when Preparing

Interview space: Is it quiet, without distractions, do you have a professional background, and a table to spread out materials you want to refer to easily and quickly or the ability to tape documents with large font (e.g., resume, list of skills, classes you would want to teach, list of those interviewing you) to the wall behind your computer (at eye level)?

Computer/technology: Do you know what software program they will be using (GoToMeeting, Skype, WebX, Google Hangout, Blackboard Collaborate)? Did you pre-test your equipment, software, and account settings? Have you ensured messages won’t pop up on your screen and interfere?  Do you have a backup phone number if the website crashes?

Phone technology: Is cell phone reception sufficient? Can you hear…be heard? Do you have a headset so you can be hands-free? If you are calling into a conference line, did you write the names/phone number(s) down of your interviewers as backup in case no one answers or the conference line connection fails?

Video preparation: Dress professionally for an interview, even if they can't see you. It helps you mentally prepare. Don’t pace back and forth. Limit hand gestures and movements. Don’t rustle papers. Ensure the camera is level, lighting is even, and the screen captures your entire face and shoulders. Ensure the background is not messy and content on walls is appropriate. Relax. Smile.

Mental preparation: Realize you may not get the critical facial cues we use for communicating, which means being extra sensitive to verbal cues. Preparing answers in advance with specific examples that are brief is key. Each answer should be short (not too short) and to the point. Start with results and accomplishments first. You can also use verbal cues such as “I can answer that in 2 ways…” to alert the listeners to how many points you will be making. If you don’t they may cut you off before you have finished. Be brief! 2-3 minutes per question is adequate.

Resources to Help You Prepare

If an interview room is available, graduate students and postdocs can reserve a space on the 3rd floor of South Hall at the Internship and Career Center; contact You will need to bring your own equipment. Eduroam is available as a wireless connection; there is no cable connection.

An online practice interview module is available through the UC Davis Aggie Job Link (AJL). The practice interview module includes specific modules for academic positions (keyword search "ICC academic") and over 2000 other video-prompted typical interview questions, so you can also create your own practice interview.

Schedule an appointment for a practice (mock) interview with a career adviser at the Internship and Career Center.