Preparing for the Job Market

Coalition of Women in German (WiG): Twenty-Fifth Annual Conference
Preparing Your Vita, Cover Letters, and for Interviews

Handout prepared by Marjanne Goozé ( for

Concurrent Workshops, Panel 5: Preparing your Job Letters, Dossier & Interview Preparation


Two websites have good information and vita models:

Heiberger, Mary Morris and Julia Miller Vick. The Academic Job Search Handbook. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001. (Comes highly recommended).

Formo, Dawn Marie. Job Search in Academe: Strategic Rhetoric for Faculty Job Candidates. Stylus: Sterling, VA, 1999. (This book has been recommended by some, found less useful by others.)

Before the Cover Letter:

Look at the school's website and find out about the department. Show you are informed, but do not be too eager to slip into already existing courses; these may be "occupied" by those hiring you, and/or the dept. may be looking for someone to bring in new interests and expertise. Tailor your cover letter to the type of institution (research univ. or liberal arts college, German or Mod. Langs. dept., etc.)

Before the Interview:

Take a closer look at the department. Copy out faculty and curriculum pages and try to familiarize yourself more fully with their program. Look at what current faculty are doing (teaching, research, service). Talk to your own faculty who may know some of the people who may be interviewing you. Prepare to bring to the interview any new information you may have, a copy of sample syllabi (no more than 3 diff. courses)

FAQs at Job Interviews:

[Note: most job interviews are conducted in English. Non-native speakers of English should prepare for questions in English and to discuss their research, written in German, in English. Non-native speakers of German should prepare to answer all questions in German.]


[Note to both interviewers and interviewees: avoid using numbers to refer to courses.]

  1. In an age of declining language enrollments, what would you do to encourage students to study German? How would that affect the way you would approach a general curriculum of language, culture, and literature study?

  2. What kinds of courses have you taught? Do you have sample syllabi?

    1.    1st and 2nd -yr. language courses?   What textbooks did you use, what would you use if you had your choice?

    2.    Business German?

    3.    Literature, Linguistics, or Culture courses?  Texts? Materials? Kinds of assignments?

    4.    What is your teaching philosophy?

  3. How would you construct a third-yr. language (and culture) course?

  4. What role do you see technologies playing in foreign language and literature teaching in general, and, specifically, in your classes? Have you employed these in your own teaching?

  5. How would you integrate the teaching of culture and language?

  6. What is your conception of "German studies"? How would you envision a German studies curriculum?

  7. How would you teach a general introduction to German literature and culture course for undergraduates (not in transl.), let's say from 1750-present?

  8. How would you approach a course in translation (what topic, what would you read)?

  9. According to speciality: what would you read (view) and include in an undergrad. course in a period (Medieval, Ren-Ref-Bar, 18th cent. etc) and/or in a general area of interest?.  How would you construct a similar graduate seminar? Do you have any sample syllabi?

  10. If you could teach any course you wanted on any topic, what would it be?

  11. Do you have any interdisciplinary interests?  Training in another field?  Would you like to teach (team teach or by yourself) in these areas?

Research, etc:

[In most instances this part of the interview is conducted in German].

  1. Erzählen Sie uns etwas über Ihre Doktorarbeit.

  2. How much have you actually written?  When will you be finished (defense)?

  3. Do you plan to (have you) publish(ed) it as a book, as a series of articles? At what stage are you?

  4. Any other publications? Conference papers?

  5. What is your next research project and when do you expect to complete it?

  6. How do you view the relationship between teaching and research?  Which is most important to you?

  7. To whom is your research directed? Whom do you wish to read your work?

  8. Where do you see yourself at the 3rd yr. review?  After 5 yrs.?


  1. Why are you interested in this position at our college? [This question is often used to solicit personal information you might not wish to reveal at this stage, so carefully plan how you will answer it.]

  2. What kinds of other contributions can you make to our department? Study abroad, editorship, organizational work?

  3. Do you have any questions of us?  We are only interested in inviting serious candidates to on-campus interviews; do you have any family or personal impediments that would prevent you from coming to our university/college? [Note: this is an illegal question.]

Questions you might ask:

  1. What is the teaching load?

  2. How are duties divided amongst faculty?

  3. What kinds of faculty support (grants, etc.) are available?

  4. What is the path to tenure?

  5. How will the search proceed from here?

Instructions for those conducting mock job interviews:

First have the candidates briefly describe their current position (grad. student/T.A; temp. instructor, visiting position, etc.), inform you of their fields of expertise (period, genre, etc.), so you can ask appropriate questions.  The interview should be conducted in English (most are), but one question should be asked in German (the typical dissertation question). Briefly go over answers at end, discuss good points and need for improvement (specificity of answers).