Job Candidates - Questions to Ask

Asking the right questions provides valuable information for career decisions.  As part of the Job Candidate Questions to Ask Program (JCQ), participating political science departments have agreed to answer the following questions from job candidates.


  • What is the salary structure?
  • How is salary normally negotiated?
  • How are annual increases handled?
  • Is there an automatic escalator to ensure the salaries of future hires will not outpace those of existing department members?

Teaching Support

  • What departmental or institutional resources are available to support:
    • the development of teaching expertise
    • innovations in teaching 
    • the introduction of new courses and new technologies
  • What are departmental expectations regarding
    •  the average course load
    •  the number of different courses taught by faculty 
    • advising of graduate and undergraduate students

Research Support

  • What departmental or institutional resources are available to support:
    • access to research materials and equipment
    • the employment of research assistants 
    • research expenses on and off campus
    • travel expenses for professional meetings? 
  • What departmental or institutional resources are available to seek external funding and to administer external funding awards?

Tenure, Renewal, and Annual Review

  • What policies and procedures govern the granting of tenure, renewal of contracts for pre-tenure faculty, and annual reviews of faculty performance?
  • What are the department's expectations for successful performance leading to the granting of tenure or renewal of contracts for pre-tenure faculty?
  • What are the department's expectations for a positive annual review?

Health and Life Insurance

  • What are the plans offered?
  • How are benefits disbursed?
  • What are the out of pocket expenses? Are spouses and/or children covered, and to what extent?
  • What portion of my paycheck will be deducted for these benefits?


  • How many types of retirement plans are offered?
  • What is the matching percentage of the institution?
  • Is there a required contribution (and what is it)?

Service Activities

  • What are the expectations of pre-tenure and tenured faculty regarding:
    • departmental and institutional committee work
    • professional or disciplinary activities
    • outreach activities to communities external to institution

Mentoring and Other Faculty Support Initiatives

  • What attention does the department give to integrating new faculty into the department, the institution, and in the profession?
  • Does the department or institution have programs that address:
    • the employment of dual career professional couples
    • family needs of faculty and staff
    • issues associated with minority faculty and staff


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