Friday, November 29, 2013

Addendum to Job / Interview Tips From Poopiehead.

Congratulations, you've made the shortlist, and we want to contact you for an interview.

1) The arranging of these sorts of things is quite often following a narrow or short time window. If you've provided an email address, if you're emailed asking about your availability for a job interview, DON'T TAKE FOREVER TO ANSWER THE FUCKING EMAIL where I'm offering you the opportunity to come for an interview.

2) Given your non-responsiveness via email, I decide to try the phone contact info you've provided. DON'T PROVIDE YOUR FUCKING BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND's CELL PHONE NUMBER! (a) They have no idea what I'm talking about when I'm calling, and (b) If you don't happen to be right next to them when I call, they have no idea where you are or say "s/he's at work and is unavailable"; (c) I'm actually not any closer to speaking with you so we can hash out a date for you to come for an interview. If you aren't responding to my emails WHERE I'M OFFERING YOU A JOB INTERVIEW, why would getting a message (probably via email, seeing as you apparently don't have a phone of your own) from your pillow partner make a difference? Actually, you know what? Kiss my ass, I've wasted too much time already just trying to talk with you for 2 minutes. Next on the list...

- Prof Poopiehead


  1. That's actually kind of wild ... I did most of my marketeering before the cell phone era and I remember staying home TO ANSWER THE PHONE on the days before the annual interviewing conference.

  2. On the one hand, I agree that this sounds like a flaky, badly-organized, badly-prepared job candidate (even homeless people have pay-as-you-go phones these days, and checking email regularly when you're on the market -- or at least providing an "away" message if you can't -- is a must).

    On the other hand, if this is written in real time, I'd point out that this is a holiday weekend, and it takes a particular kind of sanity and self-control -- characteristics you just might want in a future colleague -- to step away from the whole job search mess for even a few hours, let alone a day or two (which I assume is what you mean by "tak[ing] forever to answer"; if it's been less than 24 hours, especially the Wed/Th/Fri of Thanksgiving week, then I'd suggest recalibrating your own sense of an appropriate response window). It's also worth noting that, with the move from conference to Skype interviews, candidates may not have as clear a sense of when they should be especially careful to be available for scheduling things in a "narrow or short time window." When the MLA was held starting Dec. 27, I knew to check my answering machine messages regularly on Christmas eve and Christmas (yes, this was a while ago; no email, no cell phones). But if your time window is determined not by a national conference, but by a time period in the next few weeks when the members of the search committee have cleared time in their schedules and/or booked the conference room/skype facility -- well, the candidate has no way of knowing that, does (s)he?

    In short, if this is a real-time post, I suspect there might be a bit of flakiness (i.e. doing tasks at the last minute)/unreasonable expectations operating on both sides.

    Or maybe my perspective is just influenced by having received word late on Weds. (a holiday for my institution) that an important departmental form is due by Dec. 1 (which would be, um, Sunday -- still part of the break).

    Yes, I'm checking email regularly this weekend because next week is the last week of classes, with deadlines for semester-long projects looming, and I know students will have questions. And if I were on the job market, I'd probably be checking even more regularly. But there's a part of me that thinks it would be eminently sane and civilized, and perfectly allowable, to put up a vacation message and turn off my computer for the weekend (with fair warning to my students, of course). I'd certainly feel free to travel somewhere with no internet/phone access (once again, with warning).

    The SO's phone thing is still weird, and the lack of away messages is also a problem (unless the person isn't teaching, and you're doing this much earlier than customary in your field). But if someone who'd provided more appropriate contact info., and set up helpful away messages as necessary, got back to you promptly on Monday morning, I hope you wouldn't hold hir taking an actual holiday over the holiday weekend against hir.

    1. I agree with the holiday weekend thing.

      I'd also point out that people in dire financial straits often get rid of their own cell phones (my friend did this when she was out of work) and list a friend's or SO's phone number. Perhaps this job candidate has been out of work for a while? That, combined with the holiday weekend, might be what's making this person MIA. And not everyone has nonstop internet access--I don't have the internet at my house (can't afford it) and use libraries/coffee shops/etc. Over a long weekend, it would be very possible to miss something.

      Or they could be a genuine flake, who knows.

    2. It is Canuckistan, calling Canuckistan candidates, so no American thanksgiving getting in the way - and this saga began before the holiday period anyhoo (i.e. this was a prolonged multiple-day affair). And this postdocflake has a very well paid, prestigious national-scale fellowship, so no dire straits are keeping them from a phone. If American in-laws and a trip down south were thrown in the mix, this would all be more understandable if I got a vacation autoreply, which should be SOP if out of touch for more than 2 days in the time period following the closing date of a job that you applied for... (hopefully) these are helpful tips for those who are reading!

    3. Ah; got it. Apologies for assuming the U.S. perspective. Well, I guess you just got some help making the shortlist even shorter.

  3. You do realize what's going on, right? The candidate is busy contacting the places where he/she would really like to go, letting them know he is on your shortlist and needs to schedule a campus visit, so would they please get off their asses and let him/her know presto if they are interested. In the meantime, stretch out the radio silence until they get an actual threat from you.

    In this situation, all my sympathy goes to the candidate. Most of the time the job search game is heavily skewed towards employers, but the moment interest is expressed the candidate is, briefly, on the driver's seat. And it's a well-known strategy for schools that are relatively lower on the totem pole to try to move early and leverage the insecurity of job seekers into a chance of hiring "above their standing" (my U does that.)

    I understand where this strategy comes from, but it is ultimately counter-productive for everyone. Ideally the "consensus community-perceived ranking" of job seekers should map in an order-preserving way to the ranking of the departments where they get jobs, as would likely happen if North American campus visits didn't start until the second week of January. Otherwise--if a desirable candidate is pressured into early acceptance of an offer from a place low on his/her priority list--if that candidate continues to interview and moves after a year, while some would scream "unethical!" I think that is entirely their right.

  4. I was out of town when I got the job offer for my current position, and cell phones were not yet really A Thing. It took me two days to return their call. I probably looked cool and collected, rather than the reality of "holy shit, I might be able to pay rent! I'm not going to be homeless after all! Let me just wipe that dust off your shoe for you, Mr. Search Committee Chair."


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