When interviewing for a faculty position, when do you bring up the issue of $$$? Do you bring up the issue of $$$?
In every interview I have had, the department chair or some other administrator such as a dean of some sort brought up the topic of money: salary and start-up. I never had to figure out the best time to ask about money; this is the responsibility of the administrators.
If for some reason you interview at a place that does not proactively mention salary or start-up and these things are critical to you at this stage -- i.e., before an offer -- then perhaps the chair or another administrator will at some point ask if you have any questions, and then you can ask the money questions. In this case, I would start with very general questions -- What is the likely starting salary? Is this a good time to discuss start-up issues?
At an interview for a faculty position in Science, I think the most important money issue that the candidate needs to think about in advance is start-up costs. I don't know about other fields, but in Science, start-up costs are so central to any hire that the topic is a normal part of an interview meeting with the chair ± deans.
Therefore, by the time you go to an interview, you should have a pretty good idea of what you want/need in terms of equipment, space, personnel, and other items that can be added to the start-up package. Know what you want and what it will cost. You may not know a final number -- e.g., setting up a lab may require some renovations, and it is up to the administrators to come up with the relevant sum for that -- but you should know an approximate amount for the things you can determine, and you should have an idea of how much space you will need.
You might want to ask around to find out what other people in your field have included in their start-up packages besides the obvious items of equipment.
I used to prepare a dream-estimate and a bare-bones estimate, and I adjusted these as I acquired more information during the interview about availability of certain shared facilities and space issues. If you get an offer, you aren't locked into the number you gave at the interview, but it's good if you at least get the order of magnitude right.
Other financial details might be more appropriate for discussion if you get an offer, although you could do some research into these issues so that you are well informed. I know that different people have different priorities, but I always think it is strange when a candidate asks about retirement benefits and moving expenses and real estate prices and so on. If you get an offer, by all means ask away, but these questions can wait (and some of it you can figure out yourself).
I realize that $$ issues can be stressful, but this should not be a major focus of anxiety at an interview. My advice to interviewees is to focus on the talks and personal interactions and, although you should certainly be well prepared to discuss your start-up requirements, don't worry that you're failing some sort of interview test if you don't know exactly what to say/when about the financial side of faculty hires.
Tomorrow: There are other resources that can answer the common and most basic questions about interviewing for a faculty position, but here's a chance to ask about more random issues that you might hesitate to ask someone you know. I have a few things lined up for tomorrow's post, but feel free to leave a comment with additional questions of the unconventional sort.
9 months ago