Not that Kind of Interview: Tales from the Second Visit
After all the applications, the interviews, and the agonizing waiting game, you have been invited for your second interview/visit. Of all the variable processes you have encountered up until this point, this portion is fairly straightforward and fun. These have been our experiences, and as always, n=me and a few of my friends.
General outline: You will again arrive the evening before your interviews. If you have a significant other, more often than not, they will also be invited for the second visit. You will have more meetings with individuals outside of your department who either share your interests or are potential collaborators. At the end of the visit, you will meet with your chair or a dean, and the offer process will begin. You will then be sent home, either with an offer or with the promise of an offer, to contemplate the exciting possibilities of life in the department.
The prep work: This is your opportunity to explore what the institution and city have to offer. We all made a fairly exhaustive list of questions to cover, from personal (Where should we send the kids to school? Where should we live? What is the nightlife/outdoor/restaurant scene like?) to the professional (What does the core structure look like here? What are my obligations within the department? What is the teaching load? Who helps me put together grants? Who helps me with the finances?). More than anything else, your second visit is about evaluating if you could see your science and your life in this department and location.
Disclosures to make: While most of us did not inform the search committee about additional first interviews, we did inform them about second interviews and offers received. If you only have one second interview, do not worry. You only need one job.
The meetings: Your new set of meetings will include additional faculty, cores, and a tour of your lab space and office. This visit is the time to objectively evaluate the weaknesses of the department and institution, and identify elements for which you can negotiate. For example, several of us were allotted laboratories that needed renovations to accommodate our cell culture hoods. Some of us were able to negotiate the cost of those renovations out of departmental funds and not start-up funds. Do not be afraid to point out a few of these small, fixable, weaknesses to a search committee member or Chair. This will lay the groundwork for your subsequent negotiations.
Housing search: For some of us, the second visit involved looking at housing. Sometimes this is done by the spouse while you, the candidate, are in meetings, and sometimes this visit is tacked on at the end, giving you the opportunity to look at housing. There are some mythical reports of departments paying the down payment on faculty housing for assistant professors, but this was not the experience of our cohort. For those of us who did not search for housing during our second visit, we negotiated a subsequent housing visit in our offer letter.
The offer: The majority of second visits end in an offer. There were four ways we received our offers. One of us started negotiating the offer before going back for the second visit. Some of us sat down with a seasoned administrator and were given an offer on paper in our final meeting. Others were emailed an offer after our visit, and the Chair or Dean then scheduled a time to follow-up. The smallest portion of our cohort was asked what we wanted. Those individuals spent several days pouring over resources like Glassdoor or the American Association of Medical Colleges faculty salary report to identify their requested salary and build comprehensive budgets to justify their requested start-up. Whatever the method of delivery, receipt of your offer is the beginning of the negotiation process.
After your exciting second visit, with an offer in hand or arriving shortly, the real work begins. It is now time to start the negotiations. In my next post, I will discuss some of the negotiation tactics we used during our negotiation process. Stay tuned for more tales!
Still have questions? More confused than when you started? Need to vent about the process? Feel free to send some electrons my way in the comments, via Twitter @PipetteProtag, or through traditional electronic mail firstname.lastname@example.org