Comparing academic departments when deciding between faculty job offers
April 2016 (perspective of an assistant professor)
If you're in the fortunate position of getting multiple faculty job offers, how should you compare the departments when making your final decision? Here is one set of criteria I've developed, which are most relevant for assistant professor hires at Ph.D.-granting STEM departments in the United States.
Make a big table comparing different departments along these criteria, and then weigh each one based on its personal importance to you and your family.
Some of this information can be found on departmental websites, but you should ask about the other points during your second (return) visit or via phone calls before accepting any offer.
Note that I'm not comparing the details of specific offer letters, since startup packages and other perks are transient. I'm talking about comparing steady-state work environments and what you need to do on the job day-to-day as an assistant professor.
Department and university service