Thursday, 23 February 2006

The moment you lose a job offer

There’s a point after every job interview (good or bad) when you realize that you’re probably not going to be offered the job, and you can go back and pinpoint that moment.

At Slippery Rock, I’m pretty sure it was around the 6th time that morning I’d heard a different person in the department discuss their fealty to the Unitarian Universalist Church. I’m pretty sure my body language gave my feelings about being indoctrinated into the local cult of personality away.

At Millsaps (where I did get the job, proving my spidey sense is fallible) it was during the campus tour when I made a joke (after having seen about 30 female undergrads and 2 males) inquiring whether or not the school was actually coeducational—I don’t think my guide realized I was joking and looked at me like I was an idiot.

At Lawrence, it was at dinner the second night at a Greek restaurant with the three members of the department who weren’t on leave. I am pretty sure my answer to a question about mentoring undergraduates who planned to go to graduate school went over like a lead balloon—I believe my exact thoughts were that it would be a complete waste of their time unless they went to a top-25 institution.

At the place I was ultimately offered the job last fall, I’m pretty sure it was in the car ride back to the airport when I rather stridently stated my opposition to their reopening their master’s program (dovetailing with the previous paragraph’s theme). Again, I got the offer, but I doubt this conversational gem helped.

Today, I think it was during the teaching demonstration (which, in theory, was going to be a discussion of public opinion and why it matters in democracies) during which through absolutely no fault of my own the name Noam Chomsky came up. In retrospect, that may have been the time to flee the room, because the discussion was already headed downhill and I hadn’t quite realized it yet. Everyone was very nice, but that was just a teeny bit weird. The good news is that the flight back from [Redacted Rust-Belt City] was uneventful.

The moral of this story: don’t have opinions (and certainly don’t have unapproved opinions), and don’t have a personality, and you can get a job.

Friday, 10 March 2006

Giving good phone

I ended up having 1½ phone interviews for one-year jobs on Wednesday morning, when I was only expecting one (the ½ was about 10 minutes of Q&A on my cell phone with a department chair in a neighboring state); I think they both went well, although neither institution has as of yet committed to giving me a campus interview.

At this point, though, I suppose any news is good news; I don’t think I was a particularly good fit for the needs of the department that interviewed me in person this week—I think they are looking for more of a public law guy, and while there’d be the opportunity to teach in my research areas, it probably wouldn’t be every semester—and I have yet to hear back from the interview a couple of weeks ago after having been assured that a decision would have been made by now—which, in the academic world, usually means at the very least that you’re not the most preferred candidate, consistent with my expectations.