Today I was doing an interview bootcamp and came upon yet another #Facepalm Fail of the academic interview.
The #Facepalm Fail is: “How would you mentor graduate students?”
Actually, this might not rise to the level of a full-size #Facepalm Fail, because it will only be asked in certain contexts–interviews for jobs in departments with graduate programs.
Nevertheless, you should be prepared. One of the hardest mental shifts to make in the grad school –> job market transition is from being a graduate student to being a person in charge of training graduate students.
And yet make that transition you must. This is a question that virtually all interview bootcamp clients bomb.
Here, in brief, is how to respond to that question:
“Graduate students at different levels will have different needs. First year graduate students will be struggling to simply adapt to the demands of graduate school, and for those students, I would focus on helping them navigate the expectations of the program, its requirements, and basic academic reading and writing skills.
Mid-program students who are involved in establishing their dissertation projects will need assistance in formulating an original research project, and then gaining a command of the theoretical schools of thought and the various methodologies necessary to conduct it. Teaching skills in grant-writing are also important at this stage.
With more advanced students I focus on academic writing skills, and also work with them to plan ahead for conferences and presenting work in public.
As graduate students finish the program I would focus on the job market and other professionalization skills such as fellowships, the job market, and networking. Overall I want to support students in both their scholarly growth as well as their professional development.”
Would that our own advisors had actually done–or even thought of doing–any of this!