Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Albuquerque Adam With an MLA Recap on Interviewing.

I ended up with 7 interviews this year at the Modern Language Association convention in Seattle. I didn't see Horst anywhere, but I definitely saw the same nutty people he did. (The hat trio were everywhere!)

Anyway, I wanted to share some interview thoughts as they might be recognized by some - and used as cautionary tales by all.
  1. Top 10 SLAC in NE. Man, I wanted this job. I wanted to live in this beautiful spot and get a chance to teach their students. I prepared for this one. Too much. In my interview I kept showcasing what I knew about them, and when the 45 minutes were over, I felt like I hadn't shown enough about myself. I slumped when I got to the elevator because I could tell I'd blown it. I was out of breath from the effort, and I'm sure it showed.
  2. Nondescript GIANT uni in the Midwest. I got this interview on Jan 4th, and I was in the mode of just accepting them all. I did much better, but the job was not quite as advertised. They listed some duties in the interview not at all mentioned in the ad, and 20 minutes in I knew I was a wrong fit.
  3. Close-by state school. I was nervous about this interview because surely some folks at it know people at my current institution. As I noted earlier, I'm not virulently unhappy where I am. This job has some cool features, and even though I'm at a "better" school now, this job would allow me a bit more work in my own sub discipline. I was relaxed, and it was a real conversation. I got a quick word in the hallway from one of the committee members that they'd definitely want to see me again.
  4. Good SLAC in the PNW. I have dreams of living in Oregon or Washington State. I have the wardrobe picked out in my head. Moody hoods. North Face jackets. Oh, I'd be in heaven. I learned from my #1 interview to showcase myself, and this time I did a better job. It helped, too, that the interviewers were NOT reading from a tightly set script - as the first three interviews all did. The questions seemed to come up organically and followed specifically what my previous answer had touched on. The lesson is, being interviewed by human beings is the best.
  5. Private uni in the south. Talk about an ego blow. This school, which includes a faculty member who taught me in grad school, seemed like only an okay place. I interviewed because of my former mentor. I was a little snooty in my prep and was embarrassed that they seemed 100X more prepped for me than I was for them. Also, they were smarter, more interesting, and more lively than I expected, and I felt like a big sack of shit as they discussed the job in really exciting ways. By the time the interview was over, I'd gotten my feet under me, but I blew this one as well, and I felt sick afterwards.
  6. Most of my interviews took place at the Sheraton, and in most cases I had time to regroup. But I went straight from #5 to #6 with about 90 seconds in between. (Luckily, the Sheraton elevators never seemed busy.) So I walked into this meeting with a mid range SLAC in the NE completely disoriented. And the interviewers were even worse. They had folders on a tiny table with CANDIDATE NAMES ON THEM. After handshakes, one of them picked up the folder for a different candidate, and I said... "Uh, that's not me." She smiled, put it down, waved her hands over the rest. "I think you're in here somewhere." It was that sort of interview. I could have been anyone. They were so busy writing my answers down they never made eye contact. They were impossibly young. I didn't like them.
  7. With a nice long break before #7, I just decompressed, watched TV, and said, "Fuck this. If they don't like me, I can't help that." And #7 was with a large state school in the middle of the country, another late addition to my schedule. The job was sort of late in the calendar and I'd not obsessed about it. They asked good questions - and they were dressed casually and seemed fun - and I just answered like we were all pals. It was the most relaxed interview I had. When they asked if I'd ever done something - that I hadn't - I just fessed up. "Nope. But I would love to learn more about it. No games. 
Oh, I wore dress slacks, a white shirt, red tie, black sport coat, nice shoes.


  1. "The lesson is, being interviewed by human beings is the best."

    Yes, it's also risky.

    But I like taking that risk.

  2. If your #7 interview was with Texas Tech, you probably have the job. Wearing the school colors would've clinched it the moment you walked in the room.

  3. This is fascinating. I really hope you will continue reporting your progress.

  4. These are ALL good jobs. You'd be lucky to get one: any of my students would kill for one. I'm not sure who or where you are, but I hope you're appropriately humble when you get to campus visit time.

  5. Wearing the school colors would've clinched it the moment you walked in the room.

    Next year, the elevators are going to be full of young men changing ties.

  6. The post-MLA wiki entries are already forecasting doom over here. Doom doom doom.


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