Archive for February 12th, 2009

Court rules on autism

From CNN.com:

A special court ruled Thursday that parents of autistic children are not entitled to compensation in their contention that certain vaccines caused autism in their children.

“I must decide this case not on sentiment, but by analyzing the evidence,” one of the “special masters” hearing the case said in denying the families’ claims, ruling that the families had not presented sufficient evidence to prove their allegations.

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One way to prepare for an interview, whether by phone or in person, is to prepare (and study) answers to frequently asked questions.  This allows you to organize your thoughts in advance and minimizes the likelihood that you will be caught off guard (as I was when asked about my vision for a department).  The questions below have been drawn from multiple sources and, while they are slightly skewed toward liberal arts positions, many of them are relevant to academic jobs in general.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Job Market*


Why do you want to work here?/Tell us about the kind of job you’re looking for.

Why liberal arts?


What are you looking for in a job?

What is your vision for the department?

About You

Describe your teaching philosophy.

What unique qualities would you bring to this school?

What kind of colleague are you?  What are your strengths and weaknesses?

How would you describe yourself to a room full of sociologists?

Can you think of a book in sociology that you’d say has had the greatest impact on your thinking as a sociologist?

In your ideal job, what would be the balance between teaching and research?  What % of time would you devote to teaching and what % to research?

Can you tell me something about your interests and involvements beyond your teaching and research?

What kinds of support would you expect from the university?

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?


Can you tell me a little about how you use engaged learning in your courses?

What do you find the most exciting about teaching?

What do you find most frustrating in dealing with students in general?

What do you think are your strengths as a teacher?

What do you think are your weaknesses?

Can you think of a difficult situation that came up in a classroom that you handled well?

What is your favorite class to teach?

What is your dream class?

How would you teach (a particular course mentioned in the job ad)?

Which five classes would you most like to teach?

How do you usually go about developing a course on something that’s not in your specialty area?


Have you thought about involving students in research?

What do you plan to do with your research (publications, teaching, community presentations)?

Where do you see your research going?


How would you describe your dissertation to an undergraduate student?

Where do you stand with the project now?

What sorts of things are you finding?

When do you expect to finish your dissertation?

What broader literatures do you see your dissertation speaking to?

*Also available in PDF format.

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