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Professor Interview Questions

Get the job offer with these proven strategies for answering common interview questions.

Top interview questions to expect

1. Tell me about yourself.
2. Why are you interested in this position?
3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
4. Describe your teaching philosophy.
5. How do you handle challenging students?
6. Give an example of a time you had to deal with a difficult colleague.
7. What are your salary expectations?

Check the latest questions for this role:

Answering interview questions with STAR structure

The STAR method is a proven technique for answering behavioral interview questions. It stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This framework helps you structure your answers in a clear and concise way, demonstrating your skills and experience.

* Situation: Briefly describe the context of the situation you’re about to discuss.
* Task: Explain the specific task or problem you were faced with.
* Action: Detail the actions you took to address the situation.
* Result: Clearly articulate the positive outcome of your actions.

This structured approach allows you to showcase your skills and experience in a way that is both compelling and easy for the interviewer to understand.

Sample answers to above interview questions

1. Tell me about yourself.
This is a common opening question that allows you to introduce yourself and highlight your relevant qualifications. Use this opportunity to showcase your passion for teaching and research, emphasizing your experience and skills that align with the position.

Example Answer:
“I’m a highly motivated and enthusiastic educator with a passion for [mention your subject area]. I have [number] years of experience teaching [mention relevant courses or levels] and have a proven track record of engaging students and fostering their academic growth. I’m also an active researcher in [mention your area of research], and I’m excited to contribute to the department’s research initiatives. I believe my dedication to teaching, research, and student mentorship makes me a strong candidate for this position.”

Why this answer is strong:
This answer uses the STAR method by highlighting the situation (your passion for teaching), the task (teaching experience), the action (engaging students and fostering their growth), and the result (proven track record of success). It also demonstrates your interest in the position and your potential contributions to the department.

2. Why are you interested in this position?
This question assesses your genuine interest in the position and your alignment with the department’s values and goals. Connect your career aspirations to the specific position and its requirements.

Example Answer:
“I’ve been following [department name]’s work for some time now and I’m deeply impressed by [mention specific research or initiatives]. I’m particularly interested in [mention specific area of interest within the department]. I believe my expertise in [mention your expertise] and my passion for [mention your passion] would be a valuable asset to your department. I’m eager to contribute to the department’s mission of [mention department’s mission] and collaborate with colleagues on innovative projects.”

Why this answer is strong:
This answer demonstrates your research and understanding of the department, aligns your interests with the department’s goals, and showcases your potential contributions. It also highlights your enthusiasm and desire to be a part of the department’s community.

3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
This question assesses your self-awareness and your ability to reflect on your skills and areas for improvement. Choose strengths that are relevant to the position and provide concrete examples to support your claims. For weaknesses, focus on areas you are actively working on improving.

Example Answer:
“One of my strengths is my ability to connect with students on a personal level. I find that creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment helps students feel comfortable asking questions and engaging in discussions. I also have a strong work ethic and am always willing to go the extra mile to ensure my students succeed.

An area I’m working on is [mention a specific area you are working on improving]. I’ve recently joined [mention a professional development program or workshop] to enhance my skills in this area. I’m confident that my dedication to continuous learning will make me a valuable asset to your department.”

Why this answer is strong:
This answer provides specific examples of your strengths and demonstrates your commitment to professional development. By addressing a weakness and highlighting your efforts to improve, you showcase your self-awareness and growth mindset.

4. Describe your teaching philosophy.
This question allows you to articulate your approach to teaching and demonstrate your understanding of effective pedagogical strategies. Focus on your commitment to student learning and your ability to create an engaging and effective learning environment.

Example Answer:
“My teaching philosophy is centered around creating an interactive and student-centered learning environment. I believe that students learn best when they are actively engaged in the material and have opportunities to apply their knowledge in real-world contexts. I strive to create a classroom where students feel comfortable asking questions, sharing their ideas, and collaborating with their peers. I also incorporate a variety of teaching methods, including [mention specific teaching methods], to cater to different learning styles and keep students motivated and engaged.”

Why this answer is strong:
This answer demonstrates your commitment to student-centered learning and highlights your understanding of effective teaching practices. It also showcases your ability to adapt your teaching style to meet the needs of diverse learners.

5. How do you handle challenging students?
This question assesses your ability to manage difficult situations and your commitment to student success. Provide a specific example of how you addressed a challenging student situation and highlight your strategies for maintaining a positive learning environment.

Example Answer:
“I once had a student who was struggling with the course material and was becoming increasingly frustrated. I met with the student individually to understand their challenges and develop a personalized plan to support their learning. We worked together to identify their strengths and weaknesses and I provided additional resources and support to help them succeed. Ultimately, the student was able to overcome their challenges and achieved a passing grade in the course. This experience taught me the importance of patience, empathy, and individualized support when working with struggling students.”

Why this answer is strong:
This answer uses the STAR method to describe a specific situation, the actions taken, and the positive outcome. It demonstrates your ability to handle challenging situations with empathy, patience, and a commitment to student success.

6. Give an example of a time you had to deal with a difficult colleague.
This question assesses your ability to navigate interpersonal conflicts and maintain a professional demeanor. Focus on a situation where you effectively resolved a conflict and maintained positive working relationships.

Example Answer:
“I once had a colleague who had a very different teaching style than mine. This led to some disagreements about how to best approach certain topics. Instead of letting the situation escalate, I took the initiative to schedule a meeting with my colleague to discuss our concerns and find common ground. We were able to agree on a compromise that allowed us to both effectively teach the material while respecting each other’s teaching styles. This experience taught me the importance of open communication and collaboration in resolving conflicts.”

Why this answer is strong:
This answer demonstrates your ability to resolve conflict constructively and maintain positive working relationships. It also showcases your communication skills and your willingness to compromise.

7. What are your salary expectations?
This question is an opportunity to communicate your value and negotiate a fair salary. Research the average salary range for professors in your field and location. Be prepared to justify your expectations based on your experience and qualifications.

Example Answer:
“Based on my research and my experience in [mention your field and years of experience], I’m seeking a salary in the range of [mention salary range]. I’m confident that my skills and qualifications align with the requirements of this position and I’m eager to contribute to the department’s success.”

Why this answer is strong:
This answer demonstrates your research and understanding of salary expectations. By providing a specific range, you show that you have prepared for the question and are confident in your value. It also conveys your enthusiasm for the position.

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