Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Do You Wear For A Campus Visit?

Like any interview situation, I guess you dress to impress. But I don't totally know. What say you?

--Mr. Zero

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since most campus visits cover 2 or more days, this offers several opportunities to dress in differing ways. I like a suit and white shirt with tie for the day with the provost, dean, etc., The teaching day with something slightly less formal-- print shirt, tie and jacket but take the jacket off for the classroom presentation, lunch, faculty meetings, etc. I've also found that faculty tend to dress up for meeting candidates so I wouldn't want to be less dressed than they are.

Anonymous said...

A suit. If your meeting is over 2 days, bring two suits.

If you're a woman, the female equivalent of a suit. I am told that there are many different things that qualify in that regard.

Anonymous said...

Especially advice would be appreciated on the same topic for women specifically - for whom options abound; in this case more options aren't better.

Xenophon said...

Why take the jacket off for lunch and faculty meetings, unless you're hot? I can see taking it off for the teaching demo, if you don't want to look too formal. But with faculty you want to look professional, not casual.

Moral from the last post: wear clothes on the plane that you'd be willing to interview in. Remember, the interview begins when they pick you up at the airport, and the image of you in jeans and a Circle Jerks teeshirt will stay with them.

Anonymous said...

There's no need to bring two suits; that's silly. Two shirts, yes, and two ties. No one reasonable will judge a candidate for an Assistant Professor position poorly for not having or traveling with two suits!

The clothes in which you travel can be more casual than your full-on interview regalia: a polo shirt and khakis, for instance. But, the advice against tee shirts and jeans is good.

Remember, those of you lucky enough to have campus visits, interview days are long and exhausting. You have to be comfortable enough to last, as well as presentable.

Women, I can't give specific advice. Everyone should keep in mind that you want to look professional and serious, and be able to be friendly and warm at the same time. I think that the idea, for both men and women, is that you want people to look past your clothes, while sending signals that you can be as proper as you need to be.

Good luck to all!

Anonymous said...

I don't think I have ever seen a philosophy professor wear a suit (if by "suit" is meant matching jacket and pants), except perhaps to a funeral, and I don't think there is any chance that during an on-campus interview the male faculty members will wear suits. Given those two things, would it be safe for a male candidate to wear nice pants, a nice shirt, a tie, and a jacket, but not a matching suit? Isn't the ideal first impression that you fit right in, rather than that you dress well? Clinton? Stacey?

Anonymous said...

For women, you'd be fine wearing nice slacks/skirt, turtleneck/blouse/oxford shirt and sweater/blazer.

While men *could* possibly pull off jeans (particularly new 'nice' jeans) at many places, I don't think women can (for the on-campus interview).

Also, since it's cold and icy in many parts of the country, casual will be understood as being worn because warmer.

I agree with the advice that the 2nd day can be more casual than the first (if you are inclined).

Again, most important is that you be comfortable.

Anonymous said...

I've got a TT job. When I had my fly-in, I wore jeans, a nice "business casual" button-down shirt, and a jacket on the plane. I wore the same outfit to dinner that night. Then I wore a suit the whole next day for my interviews and teaching presentation.

Take that for what it's worth. I suspect that as long as you don't look like a slob, you'll be okay.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:45--Faculty, especially chairs, often dress up for job candidates. Your safest bet really is a suit that is comfortable and stays crisp throughout the day.

Women: I went with a black pantsuit and two or three different colored shirts (some with collars, some without). The happy result was I didn't think about my clothes at all during the course of the day--no worries about stockings running or skirts riding up or getting caught on something. If you've got the time and opportunity, I recommend hitting Filene's basement or the like, where you will find discounted designer suits.

Also keep in mind footwear, if you're going somewhere likely to be icy or snowy--you will almost certainly end up hiking across campus at some point. Another point in favor of the pantsuit: you can get away with sensible shoes.

If you're interviewing at a conservative religious institution, you probably need to wear a suit with knee-length skirt and collared shirt.

improfound said...

Anon 6:54, I wore a suit to my one on campus interview (three years ago) and got the job. That said, I did not see any of my potential colleagues wearing suits. Now that I'm on the hiring side I have seen interviewees wear suits, and it doesn't look weird. BUT nice pants and a jacket and tie are also fine.

It also depends on the school/location. I went to grad school on the west coast and work on the east. You can get away with more informal stuff at the UC schools than you could in the east.

I personally think this question gets way more attention than it deserves. For those of you interviewing, wear something nice that you feel comfortable in and don't stress about the clothes (for women, I think you can't go wrong with a pant suit). That said, I wholeheartedly second the "wear some interview clothes on the plane" comment.

Anonymous said...

Another reason for wearing interview-worthy clothes on the plane: lost or delayed luggage. Had a friend this happened to once.

Amit Anurag said...

Poor guess, in my case! You will find me in jeans and loose shirt and a slipper in any campus.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of the advice so far, but I would add that you should bring a nice bag to carry around your computer/notebook/snacks/etc. You don't want to have a nice outfit on and then be dragging a ratty old backpack with you all over campus. You can also as about leaving a laptop bag in someone's locked office (e.g. if you need your laptop for your talk) so you don't have to lug it all over.

And I'm not kidding about the snacks -- I was so grateful to my adviser who had told me to pack some granola bars, etc. because I would not get much of a chance to eat (while everyone else is eating, you are answering questions and its hard to get enough to eat during the actual meal times).

Anonymous said...

anon 7:18 gets it right. I think it is awkward to wear the suit all the time, although appropriate for the "big meetings". When interviewing, I though of it like this: you dress to impress the provost, etc.; but walking around in a nice suit in the department makes you stick out, as if you don't belong. You don't want to be the eager beaver trying to join the team, you want to try to fit in as one of the team already. If you are the stiff one in the suit, you look like the "interviewee". If you can ditch the jacket and look just like the rest of the department, you are already being seen as one of them.
Moral of the story: Having a jacket you can take off is the key.

And I echo the shoe comment earlier: there WILL be campus tours. I learned my lesson quickly with this after being stuck in a restroom trying to use toilet paper as a bandaid for my newly developed blisters while also trying to worry about standing up during the job talk.

This should be reason itself for women not to wear a skirt (b/c you can get away with comfy shoes with pants much easier than you can with skirts!) And having the appropriate footwear (which in this case means "manageable" not "stylish" also conveys something about preparedness and priorities, I think.

Anonymous said...

I think you can get away with just about anything if you're a good enough candidate. The best professors are often very casual (see: David Chalmers), so if you truly believe you will get the job, dress comfortably and be confident. My advice: dress as though you were to meet your spouse's snobby, rich parents for the first time.

Anonymous said...

A bit off the topic of clothing, but I've a question about the on campus interview itself. What happens when you meet with administrators? I have an on campus interview and I have an hour long meeting with the President and VP for academic affairs (It's a rather small college) and another meeting with some HR people. Any idea what the topics of conversation will be for these meetings? Should I prepare questions? Is the tone a sort of 'prove yourself to the head honchos' or a 'we just want to meet and make sure you're not some complete weirdo'?

Anonymous said...

I think Chalmers is probably a few degrees below 'casual' - but obviously this isn't going to hurt his chances of landing a job. Unless you're Dave, I'd dress up a bit.

I've had two campus visits. In both cases, I wore a suit to the interviews, and then jeans/shirt/jacket to dinner/more casual meetings. I got a job at one of those places, but both committees told me they loved my suit.

One of those statements isn't true.

A suit isn't necessary, but I can't imagine it being out of place (and I've seen plenty of philosophers in suits); a jacket is pretty standard. That applies for men and women, though 'suit' and 'jacket' then mean different things. I can't remember seeing a candidate in jeans - though I don't think it would have mattered much.

Anonymous said...

What do you wear for a phone interview? Does anyone do the phone interview in the buff?

Anonymous said...

What do you wear for a phone interview? Does anyone do the phone interview in the buff?

An excellent question to ask the committee at the end of the phone interview when they ask if you have any questions.

Anonymous said...

Is the tone a sort of 'prove yourself to the head honchos' or a 'we just want to meet and make sure you're not some complete weirdo'?

I've had two on-campus interviews and have been hired both times. In my limited experience, the administrators I met with mostly wanted to make sure I wasn't a total weirdo. They also seemed to want reassurance that I understood the general personality of the university. But many of these meetings were more about them selling the university to me than vice-versa. Which, as they say, is nice.

Anonymous said...

umm, no: when i met my spouse's snobby, rich parents for the first time, i dressed like i too was rich and snobby (i ain't, but that was the right impression to make). for an on campus interview you want to be a little more sensible, not snobby.

Anonymous said...

I'm tenured at a research department. I think it is better not to go too casual: it sends the wrong message. ("I don't need to dress up for you." Or: "I'm clueless about the conventions, I'm just a grad student.") A suit is fine, and for men a nice jacket/shirt/non-jeans look is also fine, especially for the non-Dean-meeting day. For women it is harder, and especially important not to go too casual (sorry: sexist but true). Try Banana Republic or Ann Taylor. Wear nice, low-heeled leather boots with a skirt (suit or paired with nice jacket/shirt or possibly tailored sweater) and you are fine. Or wear pants with said boots or other comfortable shoes paired with nice jacket/shirt/tailored sweater and you are also fine.

Sure, some places are OK with jeans, but it will annoy some people (see above re sending wrong message).

Anonymous said...

By the way, for those who don't fly much, there is a very easy way to avoid your luggage getting lost - carry on! There's no reason why everything you need shouldn't fit into one of those wheely suitcases, and this will prevent you having meetings in three-day old clothes, or asking the search committee if you can borrow a pair of socks. and you save ages at the airport. You'd be mad not to.

Oh, and I (a woman) chose to wear smart, normal, conferency clothes rather than a suit for my interviews and I think it was an excellent decision - anything that makes you feel like a normal, adult professional philosopher (who's not famous or confident to push social norms - I know some people dress very casually), is good.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty uncomfortable in a suit--or even wearing a tie, and in my experience, I don't do philosophy very well when I wear such things.

I did bring a tie to my one campus visit (for a job I got), but I only wore it during my meeting with the dean (I literally pulled it off and put it in my pocket on my way back to the philosophy department), and I didn't even bring a suit. (I was--and am--no superstar, either.)

I've been on one search committee since then, and neither I nor my colleagues ever remarked on the clothing or appearance of any of the candidates. Probably, some were wearing suits--I don't remember. But certainly not all were. One of the women we invited for a campus visit, I remember, wore pants, a sweater, and a scarf (no jacket). The fellow who wound up accepting an offer wore jeans (but also a tie, I think) to one of the dinners.

Anonymous said...

It's worth bearing in mind that your on-campus visit may consist principally in one, extremely full day on campus. And, if so, you may have no opportunity to change clothes between breakfast that morning and dinner that evening.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly, there are certain questions which departments are not supposed to ask during an APA interview (either because they're illegal or because they're against APA policy, whatever force that has). If this is correct, does it also apply in the case of on-campus visits, where the lines between formal interview and informal conversation can be extremely vague?

For example, if it's illegal for the dean to ask about a candidate's sexual orientation during a meeting in the dean's office, is it similarly illegal for a member of the hiring department to ask the same question while driving the candidate to the airport?

Anonymous said...

2:08
Yes, it is definitely illegal to ask those things in casual conversation during the campus visit. The fact that it's illegal doesn't mean it won't happen, obviously; and in casual conversation one of the department members may well forget and ask, "Do you have kids?", planning to tell you about the local schools...

Anonymous said...

how many job ads are usually in the spring JFP?

Mr. Zero said...

how many job ads are usually in the spring JFP?

In February 2007, there were 60. In May 2007, there were 25. But the economy is fucking everything up. February 2009 had 23, and the May 2009 didn't run.

C said...

"if it's illegal for the dean to ask about a candidate's sexual orientation during a meeting in the dean's office, is it similarly illegal for a member of the hiring department to ask the same question while driving the candidate to the airport?"

Just a friendly reminder. There may well be jobs you apply for where it is illegal for this sort of question to be asked, but there are jobs where it is perfectly legal for these sorts of questions to be asked and so you should know the law, know the school, and know what to say if this comes up. From what I recall, Nebraska did not treat sexual orientation as a protected category so I'd be surprised if it would be illegal for a dean to ask questions like this. Just this year I was at an HR orientation where I asked about benefits for partners and just about everyone in the room was shocked to learn that same sex partners do not get benefits in Texas.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand the list of questions that it's illegal to ask is actually fairly narrow and the information can be gained without asking the questions (in fact, I found a website that lists the illegal questions with accompanying legal ways to get same information).

What is more clearly illegal (though more difficult to prove) is preferring one candidate over another because of the gained information.

Regardless, if there is concern over being asked particular questions, I'd be prepared for the question and have an answer you can live with. I had a colleague who would ask questions that were clearly inappropriate (and potentially illegal) but there was no way to stop the questions.

Also, even if there isn't state protection for sexual orientation, there is, in larger cities, sometimes protection at the city level and many colleges and universities have included sexual orientation in their non-discrimination statements.

Anonymous said...

How did we move from what to wear to what questions can't be asked? I'm still stuck on the question of whether to wear nothing during a phone interview. I might try that next time. Oh, here is a bridge question: Can a committee member ask you what you're wearing when your doing a phone interview? If you're nude, do you have an obligation to tell the truth?

second year tt guy said...

Technically, any question that doesn't directly pertain to the job is of questionable legality. Specifically, questions about religion (at a non-religious institution), marital status, children, etc are absolutely illegal.

That being said, during a 1-2 full day campus interview with a variety of untrained interviewers, you should expect to asked a number of questionable or illegal questions (after all, no one told the undergrads what sort of questions were fair game). The best policy is to be gracious and be honest if the answer would likely be a plus or neutral and be evasive if the answer might negatively influence the SC. In any case, do not be surprised or flustered when inappropriate questions crop up especially during small talk or from students.

Anonymous said...

It seems like almost every place has scheduled on-campus interviews except the one I am waiting for (at least according to the phylo wki)...has anyone heard anything from Sam Houston State?

Anonymous said...

Many schools did not resume until last week. For most schools, a Dean's approval will be required to invite people to campus. If you interviewed at the APA and do not hear something this week, you should probably figure that you didn't make the list.

Now, a question: Let's assume you don't hear back. Is it appropriate to contact the search chair and ask what is going on? I imagine few people would have the stones to do it... but can it hurt you?

Anonymous said...

Now, a question: Let's assume you don't hear back. Is it appropriate to contact the search chair and ask what is going on? I imagine few people would have the stones to do it... but can it hurt you?

A good rule of thumb is that any requests for information should come with a plausible, practical explanation of why you're asking. The best, of course, is another job offer in hand. But there may be others. (For example, if you're planning an extended trip out of country, you'd like to be aware of potential fly-out dates). If you don't have a good reason, don't ask.

Anonymous said...

Not to drag out anyone's agony, but this week may be a little too soon to lose hope. The university where I'm currently teaching doesn't begin its spring semester until tomorrow. Schools on our calendar might not have a chance to invite their on-campus folks until next week.

Anonymous said...

Unless you think you can influence the outcome of a game by watching it, there's little harm a short, polite inquiry about your status can do. (Though maybe some committees break ties by seeing who cracks first). Everyone understands that it's a brutal wait.

Worst case: you haven't been invited, but everyone liked you and if none of the current invitees pan out, you may be invited, if the Dean funds a second round of campus visits. Hopes dashed and kindled at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Unless you think you can influence the outcome of a game by watching it, there's little harm a short, polite inquiry about your status can do.

I'm not so sure about that. If the department interviewed 20+ candidates at the APA, mightn't the chair of the search committee find it a little annoying to get 20 emails inquiring about the status of the search? Note: they can probably guess the candidates are anxiously awaiting news. If they choose not to assuage that anxiousness through something as easy as a mass email to all the interviewees, it's probably because they're busy trying to do other things, like getting administrative approval for on-campus visits.

This is one reason why, when they ask at the end of your APA interview, "Do you have any questions for us?," it's good to inquire, "What's your anticipated schedule for inviting candidates on-campus?" It's a perfectly reasonable question and, if answered, can spare one some unnecessary worrying later on.

When I raised this question in New York, most, if not all, of the departments with whom I interviewed said they'd contact candidates sometime after the beginning of the spring semester.

I think it's a mistake simply to assume the departments with which one interviewed will contact candidates during week X of month Y. To repeat someone else's advice: look at the academic calendar for the schools from which you hope to hear.