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3rd round of interview for an academic job

Senior Lecturer position

davoodbio
post 27.Aug.2018, 03:38 PM
Post #1
Joined: 12.Mar.2015

Dear Friends

A few months ago, I had an interview for a senior lecturer position in a university. I was among those candidates were selected as top candidates;We were 4. After the first Skype interview, I have been invited to do the second interview with their HR (Human resource) administrator, with Skype.
Now, I have been invited to give a visit to them at the university to be able to talk further with them face to face. I would appreciate if you can help and guide me what should I prepare for? Those that they are working in an academic position, may have the same experiences. It would be great if they share their 3rd round interview here for me.

All the bests to you guys
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oar
post 30.Aug.2018, 12:33 PM
Post #2
Joined: 20.Feb.2018

I'm sure there are wide differences by field (should I assume by your name that you're a biologist?), so my experiences may not be relevant. But since no one else has responded, here it goes:

I'm in a social science and the department follows the international norms for hiring. This means that they bring a small number of top candidates to the department (2-5) after two rounds of screening.

In my field, the "interview day" is typically a full day during which the candidate gives a seminar, has many short (30 minute) meetings with current faculty (both junior and senior), and probably 2 meals. The meetings are a chance to sell yourself to people who will have input on who's hired (talk about your research, or teaching depending on role), but also for them to convince you that you want to come to their department over whatever other options you may have.

I would say it's perfectly normal to ask for a rough schedule of your visit, it's not as if they want to surprise you.
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skogsbo
post 30.Aug.2018, 02:15 PM
Post #3
Joined: 20.Sep.2011

Sweden is very team. It will really depend on the specifics of your post and the uni. Some will have major research departments that are pushing boundaries, striving for individual excellence. Others want to scoop up everyone from the bottom to a minimum standard, rather than chase excellence. You might already have a vibe on which applies most to this particular post. The more Swedish the staff, the slower the process and the more they'll love a meeting before moving forwards etc.. so try to mask your frown if you are accustomed to a more decisive work environment!
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wallace1837
post 31.Aug.2018, 02:28 PM
Post #4
Joined: 21.Oct.2012

Read all this https://www.thelocal.se/discuss/index.php?s...showtopic=91703 really carefully.

Focus deeply on https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/s...on-report-finds

https://universitetslararen.se/2016/11/21/f...come-in-sweden/

http://www.universityworldnews.com/article...180510105856296

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10734-018-0266-x

If you think that the only thing rigged in Swedish academia is the recruiting process. Oh boy you are wrong... The entire research, teaching, service allocation is rule by nepotism.

In any case read that carefully, and stay where you are and laugh that in a parallel universe a stupid version of you didn't bother to investigate fully the extent of the inbreeding and discrimination that is rampant at Swedish university and is wasting his career in that shit hole of a country. In the meantime a wiser version of you will do something meaningful in a civilized country where the academia is a meritocracy.
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intrepidfox
post 31.Aug.2018, 02:39 PM
Post #5
Location: Gothenburg
Joined: 18.Jul.2012

Ignore Wallace1837. He´s a hateful troll that failed in Sweden and is just a bitter person
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wallace1837
post 31.Aug.2018, 06:36 PM
Post #6
Joined: 21.Oct.2012

QUOTE (intrepidfox @ 31.Aug.2018, 02:39 PM) *
Ignore Wallace1837. He´s a hateful troll that failed in Sweden and is just a bitter person

Ya, ignore me. But do not ignore the reality: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10734-018-0266-x
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Saywhatwhat
post 31.Aug.2018, 07:23 PM
Post #7
Joined: 15.Feb.2018

QUOTE (wallace1837 @ 31.Aug.2018, 07:36 PM) *
Ya, ignore me. But do not ignore the reality: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10734-018-0266-x



But then again, maybe he gets the position.
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yet another brit
post 1.Sep.2018, 12:34 PM
Post #8
Joined: 5.Jan.2013

You should assume that you'll give a seminar. Other than that, you're likely to have passed a number of the unwritten criteria already.

My experience is from biomedicine. If a new senior-ish lecturer is being appointed from abroad, then then have something that is wanted. That might be bringing a new technique or a new research area into their constellation (by "new", something trendy that they don't have, or Sweden only has a little of). The other thing is record of bringing in external funding. Reflect on what it is they think you have, and prepare accordingly!

Leadership skills, supervisory skills and teaching experience come a long way down the list.
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Gjeebes
post 1.Sep.2018, 02:15 PM
Post #9
Joined: 20.Feb.2012

You should really think to avoid Swedish academia, and Sweden in general. There are of course other variables which you have not mentioned, so it is hard to know what you might be leaving behind. But your current situation would need to be extremely shit, for Sweden to be any sort of improvement.

Wallace knows, and I know, how things go. I finally left Sweden, but here are my general observations as a former assistant professor in chemistry:

1) Swedish colleagues don't seek quality, nor do they need it to continue to be employed. They plod along, many being rather unproductive, without consequence. And in some cases, it would seem the less they do, the further they get.

2) Swedish academia is a non-meritocracy. And the more you merit yourself, the more you make your colleagues, especially those whom are your senior, look bad.

3) Swedes have no problem "not" honouring aspects of the "contracts". This leaves you in an intolerable situation where you are being screwed, politely of course, and then left with no recourse. Be aware, you will be hard pressed to find a Swedish lawyer, who would be willing to take on a Swedish uni, for a foreigner. As they would never work again thereafter, you will not even be able to buy support in the form of legal representation, should you need it. SULF will not go to bat for you if it means challenging the actions of Swedes or Swedish institutions.

4) You will waste much of your working life at meetings upon meetings. In most cases, nothing happens at these meetings (nothing is accomplished), and mostly no one will show up unless they know they will receive a sandwich. Also, no one even dare speak at these meetings, no matter how bad the news is, no one cares.

5) You will watch very undeserving colleagues proceed up the ladder simply because they have been knowing the right people, at the right place and time. Yet you won't, even though you have the same, or, higher, qualifications. Nepotism rules in all aspects of Swedish life. Many of your colleagues, in typical Swedish fashion, live in a bubble. They are not up to speed in their respective subjects, and most have little to no "international connections". Universities are supposed to be international places where knowledge is studied, and also created. Not the case in Sweden.

6) Check to see how any of your colleagues are products of the very Uni you are looking at. While suspicion of academic inbreeding outside Sweden would garner concern, in Sweden it is the default. In some places, more than 80% of faculty, are products of the Uni they work for. This, as you can imagine, leads to immeasurable problems.

7) Don't believe the hype. Sweden is not an "equal" society. It is, in my opinion, not even a humane society. You will encounter politeness, but rarely friendliness.

8) Swedes are horrible at that thing called "organisation". There is no oversight, no consequence for misdeeds, and no direction.

9) There is no correction mechanism for students, and Swedish students are very, very fragile. They simply don't know what hard work is; many have never had a job and still live at home into their mid- to late-20s. The students you will be dealing with, will have never been corrected in their life, and simply cannot handle knowing if they have misunderstood something or just plain messed up. The master-apprentice approach to education is viewed as an abuse of power (I am not joking), and you will be expected to go along with that "view".

10) SULF puts out a monthly rag and already in 2013 (I think was the year) the front page story was with regards to university students on the 13 year-old level, the idea of the story being that they cannot read/write properly, have zero comprehension ability, and therefore cannot complete the most elementary tasks, because they don't understand what is being asked of them. The article then focused on how new teaching methods are required for these people. I can post a link to this if you want to have a look.

Also, you should ask yourself if you are prepared to meet students for the first time at the exams, which they fail. But that doesn't matter, because you will be expected to make 3-5 exam re-writes, each year. They don't come to lectures, and then wonder why they fail.

I could go on, but I will stop there, since I don't have the energy to get to the real nitty gritty. And I haven't even started about the entitled snowflakes you'll be lecturing to. Most should be at a community college, not university, but Sweden made all community colleges into degree granting (i.e degree factories) organisations, so you will be dealing with students who don't want that education, but expect to be top of the class, without lifting a finger.

Plus, no matter where you go, you will be faced with buying at 1/3 above market price, since you will not be able to properly enter the rental market (i.e. with a normal 1st hand contract).

Swedish bureaucracy is a feckless mess...it goes on and on.

Seriously, I cannot stress enough: avoid Sweden at all costs. It will do nothing for your career, and will likely amount to nothing more than a waste of time.
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Saywhatwhat
post 1.Sep.2018, 07:39 PM
Post #10
Joined: 15.Feb.2018

QUOTE (Gjeebes @ 1.Sep.2018, 03:15 PM) *
You should really think to avoid Swedish academia, and Sweden in general. There are of course other variables which you have not mentioned, so it is hard to know what you mig ... (show full quote)



Count Von Count! Yayyyyyyyy!

smile.gif


Op,
In all seriousness, I think gjeebes laid out some questions to bring up in the interview if you choose to go further.

It'd be interesting to see how they respond.

It'd be interesting to hear what you think now that people have given you feedback.
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yet another brit
post 1.Sep.2018, 10:09 PM
Post #11
Joined: 5.Jan.2013

I haven't always (to say the least) agreed with Gjeebes, but there are nuggets of truth there. Viewed with brown-tinted goggles and to be taken with a barrow-load of salt, but still.

OP - a lot depends on which institution is trying to recruit you, and whether they are after a teacher or a research leader. I had assumed the latter, but who knows.

The distinction between the "old" and "new" universities is a strong one.
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Gjeebes
post 2.Sep.2018, 10:35 AM
Post #12
Joined: 20.Feb.2012

OP, regardless of being 100% research, you still need to teach. If you are an actual lecturer, not required to carry out research, you might be surprised how the courses are run.

You could ask:

1) How many times can students re-write exams?

2) Ask how many M.Sc. and Ph.D. candidates, have ever failed (or at least, been denied, only to retry)? (hint: in Sweden, generally speaking, this number will be "0").

3) Ask what the career path is, and how available the merits required, will be to you (and keep notes on this, and compare it, should you choose to go, with what your Swedish colleagues need; you'll find glaring differences).

4) Ask how many of your faculty graduated from the place. If this is high, it signals problems with quality, but also with your chances of succeeding as an "outsider", who doesn't understand the very "local" ways, that directly contravene international standards.

5) Ask what kinds of service to the department you will be expected to undertake. You might be quite surprised.

6) Ask about student enrolment; what are the numbers currently registered in the "programme". Low numbers means the Uni is having difficulties and this can lead to removal/cancellation of entire degree programmes.

7) Ask how many times the department has lot the right to examine in its own major topics. You will certainly be shocked at whatever the answer is. KI actually lost the right to examine, for nurses at one one (perhaps YAB has more info). Yes, shoddy stem cell research is not the only "problem" the "world-class" KI has faced.

Other auxiliary issues:

8) Look at the research output, and journals published in with a view to quality.

9) Realise that if you can't speak Swedish, you will not be able to teach undergraduates. This means that you might have to fight locals for teaching time, since you will be limited to advanced topics in G studies, unless your place offers degrees programmes in English.

10) Don't accept vagueness on your contract. If something is promised, make god-damned sure you have a written/signed record of that. Swedes milk their holier-than-thou media created persona, but don't be fooled. They talk a lot of shit, and some times you will see that what was promised, was impossible, or, the person making the promise, had not the authority to enforce in reality. You ignorance of their system will definitely be exploited, to your disadvantage (and in any case, get used to being viewed and treated as a second class citizen).
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yet another brit
post 4.Sep.2018, 08:05 PM
Post #13
Joined: 5.Jan.2013

KI actually lost the right to examine, for nurses at one one (perhaps YAB has more info)

True, but ten years ago...

I wouldn't argue that KI punches above it's weight. Nevertheless, if you look at the elite universities (using the THE 2018 rankings) then Sweden has three in the top 100 worldwide. UK has 12, Germany 11. France 1. Spain 0. Italy 0. Just mentally normalise that to the population size, and it is easy to see that the elite places are doing fine. But there is a genuine drop down to the "new" former university colleges - the places that Gjeebes is rightly talking about.

There is a reason why the university colleges ("högskolor") always loved to call themselves "university" by branding themselves in English - it was because legally they weren't allowed to do so in Swedish ("universitet" was reserved for the institutions who, well, actually were). Then their statuses changed, and suddenly they were universities. Lest you think this is a Swedish phenomenon, see "polytechnic" in the UK.
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nativeswedishengineer
post 10.Sep.2018, 12:21 PM
Post #14
Joined: 7.Nov.2017

QUOTE (Gjeebes @ 1.Sep.2018, 03:15 PM) *
You should really think to avoid Swedish academia, and Sweden in general. There are of course other variables which you have not mentioned, so it is hard to know what you mig ... (show full quote)



I could go on and on and on about "world-class lecturers" with phds from the ivy leauge and post-doc work at Ivy+, with a lecturing style consisting of them standing with their faces burried in the whiteboard, busy copying the text of textbook and then complaining that the students aren't engaged.
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davoodbio
post 10.Sep.2018, 01:35 PM
Post #15
Joined: 12.Mar.2015

Thank you very much for all the nice information you have provided.
I would like to inform you what happened in the 3rd round of the interview.

The university is a normal university with different subjects from techniques to humanity.
I met two people, Head of the apartment and one of their key professors that the new employee will be in a close collaboration with him.

Actually, the interview was somehow a meeting to show me their lab equipment and the university itself to be familiar with them and meet each other face to face. We talked a lot about their on going projects and researches and they explained a lot. I tried to emphasize how my background and knowledge can be useful in their area of interests and I made some connection with my previous or ongoing research with theirs, Just to insure them I am a right person that they can employ.
During our conversation, I felt they may have already chosen me as the person who is going to be employed as they were trying to show me how they feel that my background can be helpful for them. However, when we faced with other staffs, they just introduced me as a potential employee. I confused a little. At the end they asked me to say my impression regarding what ever I saw or discussed with them. I replied I am very excited and interested to be employed there.
At the end, when I questioned when will they inform me regrading their decision, I have been told they need to consult with together and they will send their decision to the university rector and they will contact me regarding salaries and so on, if they decide to employ me.

Now it is almost a week that I am waiting. The head of the department somehow mentioned the rector is going to have a meeting once in a week. I am a little stressful but still with high hope.
Hope this experience will be useful for all those they are going to have the same interview.

What do you say friends?

I will inform you when I receive their decision.
Thanks a lot
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