Comments on: On selling your department to job candidates, and true confessions from job interview hell History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Mon, 01 Sep 2014 23:45:37 +0000 hourly 1 By: ntbw Tue, 14 Feb 2012 20:00:19 +0000 My worst job interview experience: being taken to dinner at a pizza place (that in itself was OK, since it was a small town without many options) and being told what I had to have to eat because the search committee member HAD A COUPON! So, I was served pizza with toppings that included an item to which I have a food intolerance, and my choices were 1) to make a fuss that seemed inappropriate on an interview, 2) not to eat at all, or 3) to risk unpleasant digestive difficulties during my interview! I chose option #2, cut up a slice of pizza and left it on my plate, and wolfed down a granola bar in the bathroom.

Now, I understand tight budgets, and I worked for a time at a university where meals with job candidates were not reimbursed (that is, the university would pay for the candidate’s meal, but not those of search committee members). But still, this experience has always struck me as the height of cheapness. I was offered the job and declined it, and I’ve always been glad I didn’t have to work there.

By: Historiann Mon, 13 Feb 2012 19:02:41 +0000 I don’t know, Shane–that seems pretty rude to me, although I take your point that we can’t know what the Chair was actually doing.

I wouldn’t have had the guts to call him out on it during my talk, but in my experience, faculty exhibit some pretty rude behavior in meetings that they’d never accept in their students.

By: Shane in Utah Mon, 13 Feb 2012 15:48:10 +0000 Canine: Are you sure the search chair was texting? Perhaps he was taking notes about something you had just said? Or going on to Amazon to order a book you’d just mentioned? Or maybe he WAS texting someone–to tell them what an awesome candidate he was witnessing at that moment.

“I think we have our winner!”
(10 seconds later:)
“Oops, maybe not.”

People use cell phones for lots of things besides talking and texting these days. Calling him out sounds like an excellent way to ensure you never get a job offer there, or anywhere else that anyone in that room ever works at again…

Anonymous @6:58′s story is pretty galling, though.

By: J. Otto Pohl Mon, 13 Feb 2012 15:13:50 +0000 I never got a face to face job interview even for an adjunct position in the US despite having two books and several journal articles published. After many hundreds of applications I came to the conclusion that I was never going to get an interview for any job in the US. In retrospect I regret wasting a huge amount of time and effort applying to jobs in the US when I never had a chance to even get an interview. But, given the state of higher education in the US as reported in blogs I might have lucked out in being exiled to Africa.

By: Anonymous Mon, 13 Feb 2012 13:58:58 +0000 Just to prevent even accidental identification (since I am a lowly administrative type who is part of some searches in a non-faculty capacity…and also a lurker/very occasional commenter!)…I shall post anonymously.

I was once part of a failed search in which two of the search committee members were sitting next to each other, texting each other and giggling during the committee’s meeting with the candidate – not even during a talk with a large audience where they might have felt that they were hidden. It was the rudest thing I’d ever seen in a professional setting and I was just appalled, but was not in a position to say anything. It clearly put the candidate off his rhythm, although he did his best to continue. In fairness, all the dinners were at a nice restaurant, the candidate got rides to and from the airport and in general I think everyone wanted to take the search seriously, but surely adult scholars with actually pretty darn successful careers can turn off the Blackberries for an hour in the name of courtesy.

This was for a very specialized position. The committee was dissatisfied with the candidate pool (but when you’re looking for someone doing the equivalent of, say, Song Dynasty poetics as their primary specialty, your pool is of necessity going to be small and even the best candidate may not be a perfect match.)

It was a really dismaying experience and it revealed to me a lot of rifts in the department which had been hidden since I’d mostly worked with only one faction, as it were.

By: Indyanna Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:41:30 +0000 Phone-fiddling and texting have been polluting our meetings for some years now, and with the proliferation of the I-Pad and the migration of things like agendas and handouts to the “cloud,” it’s sometimes like a failed meeting of multi-taskers anonymous in there. But a search chair texting in front of someone the committee has invited in to present to its colleagues would almost court an ejection (with or without device confiscation depending on aggravating factors) in my view. Right on to Canine for busting the miscreant. You could imagine making a Youtube short based on this and taking it to Sundance next year.

By: Historiann Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:28:33 +0000 I think sometimes that most faculty end up exhibiting the behavior at meetings that in their own students would win them an ejection from class. I too have seen phone-fiddling, chatting, and the like in faculty meetings.

I’ve never seen a faculty member texting during a job talk, though. That’s almost as aggressive as snoozing in the front row!

By: Canine Mon, 13 Feb 2012 02:06:34 +0000 Last year I had a campus visit for a VAP. I looked up during my teaching demo to see the chair of the search committee texting. Texting! The dean was sitting in the front row. I asked him, Does this place allow students to text in class? He looked around and asked, Huh? I called out–Put away the phone, please. The chair did. I didn’t get the job.

And I’m glad I didn’t get it. The next interview I had was for a tt position, and I got it….

By: sophylou Sun, 12 Feb 2012 21:25:26 +0000 Agree with Z about the false pleasantness. I’m not sure it’s a good thing to present the department as a fabulous place to be if it isn’t. I’d rather make a decision about taking a job based on knowing what I’d be dealing with, than take something and find out I’d been fooled or the position seriously misrepresented. (I had a VAP position once where, on my first day there, I was told that the program I’d been hired to teach in was going to be terminated as well as other things which completely contradicted what I’d been told by the person I was replacing. Who I’d guess got a very nasty surprise when she returned).

By: Z Sun, 12 Feb 2012 20:15:58 +0000 I think on various interviews I’ve not been aggressive / enthusiastic enough, been too reserved. First time in the East, first time in the Midwest, first day in a foreign country, you know how it is – I like to take things in for a few hours and observe people so I can know how one is to behave on this particular planet.

Also, I’ve been on many interviews where I was obviously either the backup candidate, in case the other one didn’t take the job, or the fill-in candidate, so they could say they had in fact hired a woman. I tend to withdraw in those sorts of situations … where, you know, you take a cab in from the airport by yourself and have dinner by yourself, and breakfast, and get picked up for a perfunctory interview, and then go to a perfunctory dinner. I’ve had a few places do this; behavior when you actually are being seriously considered is very different.

At the same time, I’m not sure whether it’s kind to the candidates to present a falsely pleasant view of one’s place. I’ve had new hires get really mad when they find out how well they were fooled.