An Academic Career

Academic question bank

Example interview questions

These are the types of questions and issues often raised at an academic interview.

We compiled this list by speaking to a number of staff about their experiences of the recruitment process. They were all recently appointed to lecturing and research posts and are from a range of institutions and discipline areas.


General questions

  • Why do you want the job?
  • What skills can you offer us?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses in relation to teamwork?
  • How have your communication skills developed in the past year?
  • What can this University offer you?
  • Why do you want to work at this institution?
  • What training do you think you will need?
  • Do you think it will be difficult coming back to a Faculty where you were recently a student?
  • What qualifies you to run a unit?
  • Do you mind travelling abroad to attend short courses?
  • Do you mind doing weekend work?
  • Will you be ready for a full teaching load in September?

Course related questions

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses in relation to your subject matter?
  • Which course would you not want to teach on and why?
  • Would you make any changes to the current undergraduate programme?
  • How would you change the teaching of X?
  • How would you market X course to an overseas institution?
  • Where do you see the potential for new course development?
  • What would you like to teach?
  • What topics would you like to see covered in the new Masters Programme in X?

Teaching and pastoral care questions

  • What are you able to offer this University in the way of teaching?
  • What innovative teaching methodologies have you used?
  • What teaching skills have you developed over the past year?
  • Have you developed new teaching techniques during the past year?
  • What are the differences between teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students?
  • What are your views about student assessment?
  • Do you see any room for change in the way we teach large groups of students in lectures?
  • You usually teach in small groups of 20 but the intake this year has been increased to 80. What would you do differently?
  • What strategy might you use to assess a large number of students?
  • What strategy might you use to run a Unit of large number?
  • How do you teach students who are reluctant to learn?
  • What do you understand by quality control of courses and taught material? How do you achieve it?
  • During your time at X, how did you manage the pressures of teaching and research?
  • How do teaching and research complement each other?
  • How do you see advances in technology impacting on the role of the lecturer?
  • Large numbers of first year students are dropping out of courses in the Department. What would you do about it?

Dr Sam Cartwright-Hatton talks about her interview for an Medical Research Council fellowship.

Research questions

  • What are your research interests?
  • Tell us about the research methods you have used.
  • What problems did you experience with using this methodology/approach?
  • Where do you see your research fitting in with the interests/priorities of the Department?
  • What ideas do you have for further research and what are the potential sources of funding?
  • Would you want to do mostly teaching or balance teaching with research?
  • Would the results of your research be fed back into teaching?
  • How much of X bid/proposal/paper was prepared by you?
  • When do you hope to finish your PhD?
  • What plans do you have for publishing your PhD?
  • Do you have any further publications planned?
  • What is your research plan for the next three years?
  • Where do you see your research going in the next few years?
  • How would you apply your research in a practical situation?
  • How would you 'sell' your research ideas to X company?