Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just Like the Old Man in that Famous Book By Nabakov

So I'm heading into the weekend with a non-zero number of interviews. Not nearly enough to make me feel good about my chances of actually getting a job. But it's a relief, and it's enough to put me in the mood for a little comedy.

So here, from the Chronicle forums (where else?), is a truly awesome story about a candidate who, uh, fucked up her campus interview. What's the advice we learn from her example? Here it is, straight up from someone on the search committee:
You probably shouldn't have slept with one of the students who took you out to dinner as part of your interview. And if you simply had to do it, it probably shouldn't have been with one of our high-school-in-college students.

Tip: Never trust a 17 year old boy not to boast.

First of all, holy fucking fuck. But the thing is, there's an obvious question here, which another commenter gets to, "are [you] sure he didn't lie rather than boast?" I know I wouldn't trust a pubescent little dickwad not to make shit up about who's been in his bed.

But no, the search committee had the goods (so to speak). The happy couple made themselves some DIY porn, and the little punk put it on Myspace.

What can you say to that? It's just too awesome for words.


Sisyphus said...

Congrats PGS! And yeah, sleeping your way to the top just isn't going to get you anywhere useful (unless you're Barbara Stanwyck).

I recommend bribes as the better way to go.

Dr. Funkenstein said...

I think this is a travesty. Clearly she was showing an enthusiasm for teaching, even going so far as to reach out to high school students for recruitment purposes. Moreover, in filming it, she demonstrated an innovative use of technology in the classroom.

I know my department would benefit by hiring such a pedagogical maverick.

fellow grad student said...

So now your telling me that last link ISN'T to the myspace video...

just another lost opportunity to see hot philosophy porn.

Phil Fodder said...

Holy shit, I didn't know George Clinton had a teaching gig! :)

Anonymous said...


Pseudonymous Grad Student said...

Thanks, Sisyphus. It's a relief.

recent hire said...

Congrats on the interviews! And hey, there's no number of interviews that can make you feel good about getting a job (I would tell you the calculation I just did about how your chance of getting a job with 20 interviews, but it would just depress you), so love the ones you get. I didn't get a job once when I had double-digit number of interviews, did later when I had less than half that.

havenotbeenthere said...

I think the story is bullshit. If the kid were under 18, as the chronicle post implies, then it would be child porn. I doubt that could make it onto myspace without the cops getting involved.

Smerdyakov said...

It's Nabokov, with an o

tt assprof said...

Congrats PGOAT, knock 'em dead!

One interview, one fly-out, one job, is just as good as 20-10-1, ceteris paribus.

I once met a guy who had just one interview at the APA, but it was with Pitt HPS. I don't think he got it, but you see the point (vis-a-vis, philosophical value as a function of interview quantity).

A suggestion: once the good folks running this blog all get jobs, you should still leave it alive as a more general professional philosophical forum.

Remus lupin, abd said...

I hope she got a job somewhere. She's too awesome to be left out of the profession, whatever her profession is.

But my guess is that the whole story is just somebody making stuff up.

anonymous lecturer said...

I disagree with tt assprof: having a forum for people on the market is great--please don't change a thing.

It's been a wonderful salve for me, as I enter my nth year of holding down a one-year and weighing the cost of a trip to the Eastern against the promise of job security.

It's especially nice to hear more of the details of this aspect of our lives. It's not much fun, but it's worth documenting.

I do, though, second tt assprof's Congrats, PGOAT. Best of luck in Baltimore!

tt asst prof said...

Frankly this long forum should lift the spirits of all. There's sound advice in there, much about how to avoid losing your job opportunities. So long as you have your scholarly ducks in a row -- and there's good reason to believe that many of the current candidates out on the market will have their scholarly ducks in a row -- you can make or break your interview on the stupid shit. If you just focus on your ducks, you're bound to blow it in other areas.

Lesson of the day: practice, practice, practice. And buy a nice outfit.

Anonymous said...

There has been talk of job talks and teaching talks. I am of the mind-set of preparing now, even before the APA. Can any TT folks out there give advice on either of these? At least tell us what not to do? What impresses, what doesn't?

tt assprof said...

For anon 2:50, et al., a summary of what I would do if I were you...

(1) Start work on your job-talk if you haven't already.

Make sure the job-talk is "accessible" to non-specialists.

Make sure the job-talk is representative of your current project or future project.

Even if you don't get an on-campus, a nice crisp job-talk essay out to be eventually publishable, filling up your research stock to enhance your future CV (i.e., for next year, should it come to that).

Working on the job-talk will also sharpen your sense of what you do to yourself, which should show in your interview.

(2) Make sure to have, once again, an accessible short paragraph summary of your work as a whole; preferably in the form of two or three sharp syllogisms.

This is your "spiel."

It needs to be tight and crystal clear.

Of course, be prepared to defend every single one of those sentences--esp. with research jobs, which can get brutal.

(3) Do you have any innovative teaching technique for getting through to undergrads, esp. the GE sort?

Make sure you have at least what sounds like an innovative technique. That'll set you a part for those teaching gigs.

(4) Know your relevant syllabi cold.

(5) Know the dept. curriculum well enough to know if they need some non-advertised area filled.

E.g., you know something about East Asian Philosophy. They don't offer any, and did not mention it in their ad. Tell them you'd love to fill in that gap for them.

(6) Look clean, hygenic, and respectable. Make sure your shoes are polished. Beyond this, do not worry about it; beyond this no one gives a shit. People, we're not in comp lit.

(7) Prepare two or three end of interview questions, whose primary function is to show them that, you are so interested in this job you actually did a whole lot of research on their dept.

Accordingly, questions should look like: "I noticed on your website that you do this. I'd never heard of that before, could you tell me some more..."

(I think it's okay to ask what their requirements for tenure are, but there were some reservations about that from others, so think about that yourselves. I also think it's okay to ask about benefits, moving expenses; if in an expensive city, whether they offer subsidized housing, real estate prices. In fact, asking about the housing market is an indication that, not only do you want the job, but you're willing to stay forever.)

(8) In my experience, for what it's worth (but do keep in mind, unfortunately for me, I've had more than my share of these), the typical patterns of the interview:

Research: first 20-30 minutes about your research, usually pretty brutal; followed by 5-10 minutes about teaching, or NB, not at all. Last 10 minutes for your questions about them.

Teaching: first 15-20 minutes on teaching; followed by 10-15 minutes about research (often in a perfunctory way); then your questions about them.

There are, of course, lots of exceptions; but at least the following is a good rule of thumb: research jobs ask more research questions, teaching jobs ask more teaching questions.

(9) Something not much talked about on this site for some reason.

Smokers: the absolute nadir of our profession. A totally degenerate exercise in pointless sadism and humiliation.

You have to go.

If they have a table (and more than you may think don't), YOU HAVE TO GO. And just because they don't have a table doesn't mean they won't be there. They'll be there somewhere.

Going is itself an indication of your interest in their job. Have some questions for them there as well. Talk to every single one of them at each table.

Esp. if your social skills aren't that great, this is arguably the most dicey feature of the whole process. But you have to go. I am so sorry, but this is true, you have to go.

And, in this case, appearances are reality: they are Scarlett O'Hara. You are just one of many desperately trying to court her.

Take a sec to think about the high school careers of almost everyone in this business. On this night, they are prom queens and kings, and they are lovin' it. They love it so much, I'm sure a lot of them feel at least a little bit embarrassed by it.

Don't look at any of the other candidates at the same table in the eyes. Some of them look back with murderous hatred. It's sooooo embarrassing. But you have to go.

Anonymous said...

No advice on teaching talks -- I've never done one, and we don't ask candidates to do them here.

On regular job talks, the big thing is to make sure that your talk is accessible to a general philosophical audience. It's fine to talk about a fairly specialized problem, but you need to start (or end) with a little explanation of how this problem ties into larger philosophical issues.

To make things concrete, I tell my own students that they should aim their job talks at second year graduate students who aren't working in their own areas -- e.g., an ethics talk should be intelligible to a graduate student working in metaphysics, a metaphysics talk should be intelligible to a graduate student working in ancient, and a Kant talk should be intelligible to a graduate student working in logic (and, btw, one who knows no german!). If you aim your talk this way, then there's a pretty good chance that all of the faculty will understand it, and that's essential if you want to get the job.

Anonymous said...

"Take a sec to think about the high school careers of almost everyone in this business. On this night, they are prom queens and kings, and they are lovin' it. They love it so much, I'm sure a lot of them feel at least a little bit embarrassed by it."

ttassprof, this is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. So funny because its true. You're the best.

Thanks for the advice too.

Anonymous said...

Question: if the job description for a TT Assist. position matches to a fair degree what the VAP at the school is already teaching, is the job search just a mask to hire the VAP? What is reasonable to assume, if anything?

Anonymous said...

I love what you say tt assprof!

For this smoker shing-dig, aside from shiny-polished shoes, is a tie appropriate? Dress shirt? Sweater vest? Tank top?

tt assprof said...

"Question: if the job description for a TT Assist. position matches to a fair degree what the VAP at the school is already teaching, is the job search just a mask to hire the VAP? What is reasonable to assume, if anything?"

Don't assume anything.

Usually, the VAP will get an interview and maybe even an on-campus, usually for reasons of courtesy.

But usually she's not a lock, and many of the minds in her dept. can be easily changed.

Remember, when she was hired it was probably from the Central, which is a far smaller pool of candidates than from the Eastern. And unless she turns out to be the best candidate anyway, the job remains wide open.

I too was once an "inside candidate"--and I did not get that job. I know several former "inside candidates" no longer inside.

There's even a sense in which being the inside candidate is a liability.

tt assprof said...

"For this smoker shing-dig, aside from shiny-polished shoes, is a tie appropriate? Dress shirt? Sweater vest? Tank top?"

Wear what you wore for the interview. But I'm telling you folks, sartorial appearance usually plays little role, unless you dress ridiculously in one way or another.

I add "usually," just because there is a distinct minority of people in philosophy who remain somehow wedded to the Preppy Mythology. They're usually that one old timer in either a rich southern university or a topish New England SLAC--but the one who (a) doesn't get out much, (b) grew up lower-middle class, and (c) think that teaching the children of millionaires makes them one too. They often wear brass button blazers, ascots, a never-used handkerchief stuck out of a breast pocket, and speak with a really weird accent justified by that one semester they spent in Oxford thirty-two years ago.

Was that too snarky? If so, sorry. Just tell me to shut up.

anon associate said...

The smokers are a bit overwhelming -- including for the search committee. It is noisy and there are a lot of people wearing black and men sporting facial hair and wearing tweed. You'll also notice senior faculty introducing their current proteges to previous proteges (the old boy/girl network at work)

Having been on a search committee before, the interaction at the smokers was useful in helping me to determine who to recommend to invite to campus... we may have had a number of candidates who did great in their interviews and would make awesome colleagues ... but we can invite two (or at most three) to campus. So which two? the smokers can allow for a follow up question (particulary if something in the interview raised a red flag)... or a more informal interaction that helps to ascertain whether the candidate is one that is actually interested in our job... or was just using it for "practice" (we can't afford to bring a person on campus for "practice".)

My advice is to be natural, ask questions, answer questions.. don't drink too much... and wear your interview clothes (although perhaps more comfortable shoes as you'll likely be on your feet for the duration). You'll see many "famous" philosophers wearing jeans and a tweed jacket. Don't be one of them until you have a tt job.

If you are a candidate please don't hang around the tables of the places you've interviewed at too long... it gets awkward for everyone (unless you are engaged in a spirited conversation). A better strategy maybe to hang around your graduate school's table so that interviewers who are seeking you out can easily find you. If you catch the eye of an interviewer-- smile and nod... she/he will probably approach you if they wish. Or they may have a different quarry in mind (perhaps one of your recommenders or dissertation director... the smokers can also be a great place to find out whether the candidate really has a chance of completing the dissertation on schedule or is "practicing" for next year).

liberal arts assoc said...

re research talks and teaching talks.

At the high-end liberal arts college where I teach, candidates do a teaching talk and a research talk. Anon 4:16 said the right things about the research talk. So I'll just comment on the teaching talk.

Here's the drill: You'll be talking to a bunch of students who have been bribed to be there, either with lunch or extra credit in some phil class or both; many of them will be majors. They will likely be given a survey afterward to see what they thought of your talk.

As far as I can tell, there are just a few things that liberal arts students care about here. First, did you talk down to them? Don't talk down to them. Do the talk as if you are speaking to phil majors, and assume they can figure things out pretty quickly. They want you to think they're smart. (Indeed, some of them really are smart and will get into grad programs like the one you're finishing now.) Second, they care whether you seem likable. So try to relax; make a joke; pause every once in a while to ask if they have questions. Don't be a freak, if you can help it.

This is all you should care about with respect to the
students: make sure they don't hate you. Most importantly, you should not care whether the students actually understand everything you say. Unless many of them hate you, they have no influence on who gets hired.

The teaching talk is really for the faculty. What you want to do is make the faculty think you can make complicated material accessible and interesting. Since most of them will not be experts in what you're saying, what you're really trying to do is make complicated material from your AOS accessible and interesting to faculty who know little about your AOS.

So... Use clever examples, or at least examples that 50 year olds will think that 20 year olds find to be clever. Remind them regularly how this seemingly narrow problem connects to big philosophical issues. Also, if possible, remind them regularly how this seemingly narrow problem connects to big issues outside of philosophy.

What you really want is for the faculty to think that you can make the kids realize just how interesting and important philosophy can be. What you also want is for the students to think that you're something like a regular human being.

tt asst prof said...

To add to the above on teaching talks:

I'd also recommend not pulling the stunt that I pulled at some of my earlier fly-outs. That is, I teach most of my classes in a Socratic, seminar format. Lots of participation, very little lecturing. I foolishly thought I could run one of my teaching demonstrations in the same way. Big mistake. Teaching demonstrations are completely false fabrications. There will be five to ten faculty in the back of the room, a gaggle of extremely stiff undergrads watching your every move, grading you like hawks, and none of the people in the room will have any interest in seeing you succeed, even if they like you. They're all looking for things to fault you on. In one case, I disstributed a reading a week beforehand, but the students never got it. That was a disaster. I didn't get the job.

Prepare a talk. Don't try to wing anything; don't try to inspire participation. You can't jump into a 50 minute class and expect to drum up excitement for your topic.

Mark said...

Hey, couldn't resist one more string of advise. FIrst, there is a lot here about "research questions being brutal". It is really unhelpful to think of it that way. Geoff Sayre McCord told me before my first round of interviews "Hey, I love interviewing. You get a room full of smart people who have nothing to do but talk about my work. How could you be in this profession and not like that?"

Geoff is basically right. People ask hard questions, but isn't that what we do? Sure, there is the occasional asshole, and there is the occasional stupid person (who is the hardest to deal with actually). But most people do their homework and just want to argue philosophy. So think of it as fun. Even if it isn't you'll do better.

On talks. There is a lot of advise about making things accessible. That can go way too far. Any serious research school - and these days that includes many liberal arts schools and many very bad state schools -- will expect to hear a contribution to your area that matters. They may well have an expert in a near area to whom they'll defer. Always avoid jargon when possible, always be clear, always explain. But this isn't a chatty intro lecture. (I assume that wasn't the point of previous posts, but I wanted to be clear on that.)

Finally, while there is a lot of randomness in this, and lots of examples of things utterly outside your control, there is also a hell of a lot of hard work by good people trying to assess whether you are the best at this among the applicants. So it is most effective to focus on showing them that you are good at the job, and enjoy it.

Good luck folks.

Anonymous said...

Again, the rule in one context is the exception in another, for example "prepare a talk. Don't try to wing anything; don't try to inspire participation." I had a lot of success with a presentation last year that was mostly interactive, where I did little lecturing. I didn't get the job, but based on feedback I got, that wasn't the problem. I also have a good friend who missed out on jobs when he lecturered, and got a TT when he went more interactive. But open-ended, here's a topic/text now discuss, never work. You need a lot of structure for an interactive presentation. And don't do that if you don't have experience.

As for Assprof's description of how interviews at different schools break down, this doesn't agree with my experience either. In my one interview at a PhD institution, we never discussed teaching at all. In my other interviews, all at BA programs, research received at most two sentences in an hour, and sometimes wasn't mentioned at all. If you're interviewing at schools like that, make sure you can talk about teaching for an hour straight.

Here's another question: how do the research talk and teaching presentation differ at an MA institution, as opposed to a SLAC?

juniorperson said...

In your teaching presentation, ASK STUDENTS' NAMES, REMEMBER them, and USE them to call on them again, or to link other students' comments back to previous ones. This won't hurt you at all a research institution, but will go over incredibly well (with both students and coleagues) at SLACs or smaller departments in state schools.

Anonymous said...

"just another lost opportunity to see hot philosophy porn"

And to add to my extensive hot philosophy porn collection.

Anonymous said...

I think the story is bullshit. If the kid were under 18, as the chronicle post implies, then it would be child porn. I doubt that could make it onto myspace without the cops getting involved.

Nah, 17 is legal in many states.

I find stories like these reassuring and frustrating: reassuring because they demonstrate that there are people dumber than me in the world, and frustrating because these people are getting interviews and I am not.

Anonymous said...

"Nah, 17 is legal in many states."

For consensual sex? yes. For making porn? Absolutely not. And they will absolutely crucify you for this.

Will Philosophize for Food said...

" . . . I teach most of my classes in a Socratic, seminar format. Lots of participation, very little lecturing. I foolishly thought I could run one of my teaching demonstrations in the same way. Big mistake."

I did this same thing last year, first time on a fly-out. I feel your pain. It was a disaster.

From my very limited expereince with these, I've learned two things (the hard way):

1. Don't assume that they have any particular knowledge. For example, of course one should have presented the square of opposition when teaching syllogistic logic, right? Wrong. I got blank stares. And that was my setup.

2. Always have a handout. I could have salvaged the aforementioned teaching presentation if I had.

Anonymous said...

I Am Not A Logician/Off-topic

"Don't assume that they have any particular knowledge. For example, of course one should have presented the square of opposition when teaching syllogistic logic, right?"

From SEP on the Square of Opposition:

"The doctrine of the square of opposition originated with Aristotle in the fourth century BC and has occurred in logic texts ever since. Although severely criticized in recent decades, it is still regularly referred to."

This turn apparently has to do with the problem of empty subject terms.

I can't see how the history of logic is particularly helpful for understanding logic, unless you're teaching from On Interpretation or the Prior Analytics. For example, my intro logic class spent 10 weeks on various non-classical logics, and I think I am both happier and better informed for it. We dwelt only briefly with syllogistic logic (in the transition from propositional to predicate logic), and I certainly never learned about the Square.

I wouldn't equate common but not universal introductory-level trivia with particular knowledge that would be required of a more advanced student (like, say, some standard flavor of a quantified first-order logic).

will philosophize for food said...

Not a logician:

The story is long and elaborate, so let me give merely the short version. Campus interview was in March and the faculty member in question was still doing syllogistic logic at that point in the semester. So, I thought it safe to assume, given the inordinate amount of time spent on Aristotelean logic, that the square was covered. Not to mention that the book used discusses the square prominently, and refers back to it often.

I teach about a day of Aristotle myself in my logic class. But I always still give them the square.

And technically, it is only the subaltern relation that is the object of scrutiny. And yes, it is due to the problem of existential import concerning empty subject terms.

"I can't see how the history of logic is particularly helpful for understanding logic"

I think you're wrong. But it would require too much space for me to adequately defend this point.

juniorperson said...

will philosophize:

Could you point me to a couple of short papers, or a good primer, on problems with empty subject terms? (Seriously--this would be a help in my current research!)

totally clueless said...

tt asstprof, by 'the smoker' do you mean the Friday night reception or the Saturday night reception of the APA, or both, or something else completely? You insist quite strongly on its importance; should one thus go to the smoker without having had an interview?

Asstro said...

I'm less persuaded of the importance of the smoker. I think you should go, but last year I went and spoke to almost nobody who had interviewed with me. I had interview numbers in the teens and only made the rounds to one table. Most schools that I interviewed at didn't even bother to show up, and had expressed cynicism about the usefulness of the smoker.

One school I remember in particular was at the smoker, but was occupied virtually the entire night by some philosopher who was obviously near the end of his permissible shelf-life and appeared to be somewhat on the crazy side. I felt bad for three weeks that I didn't butt in and strike up a conversation, but it's just not my style to interrupt. In the end, I got a fly-out and eventually an offer, from that same school. I took a job somewhere else, but the smoker didn't push me one way or the other with any of my schools. Matter of fact, I have reason to believe that Mr. Shelf-Life may have hurt himself by monopolizing the faculty members at the smoker. So just relax, have a good time, and if you feel the love at the smoker, go be that love.

(Also, for Totally Clueless: the main smoker is generally thought to be the smoker on the first night. That's when you get the free pisswater beer that you won't drink anyway. The second night's smoker is less important, and usually less well attended. It's often on that night that old friends break off and head out to dinner, bars, and clubs. So, like, yeah, the APA is a fucked up nerd-fest of bearded men and awkward women, but I usually enjoy myself. Somehow I've found that these wankers have always been my best friends. You should enjoy yourselves too.)

Only slightly less clueless said...

So, if one wants to maximize one's chances by hobnobbing, but one's interview with a particular school isn't until Saturday, ought one seek out folks from that school at the Friday night smoker (since it's the spiffier of the two), or would the awkwardness of that outweigh whatever loss in spiffiness one would suffer by engaging those folks on the evening after one's earlier interview?

(Does that make sense?)

I can't believe it's come to this ...

Asstro said...

My experience is that the SCs won't know who you are on the first night if your interview is the following day. They probably won't even remember your dossier. Remember, they're meeting ten to fifteen new people over the course of two or three days; and they have to keep everyone's dossier fresh in their minds. If you have a way to talk to them at the first smoker -- particularly if one of the fac members at your grad school is a friend of one of the people on the SC, and your fac member will introduce you and speak positively of you -- by all means take it. But at the same time, this is forced collegiality. It's unpleasant, particularly for those of us, like me, who don't like small talk; and who don't like feeling like we have something to prove.

The other thing to remember about the smoker is that, while you may feel that SC member X is really there to meet prospective candidates, it's probably also the case that X has other alternative interests as well, like meeting with old friends and like talking to people who work in his/her area.

will philosophize for food said...

Junior Person:

In classical logic one should look at both Aristotle (see Prior Analytics, On Interpretation), who ignored the problem, and Boole, who revived it (see The Laws of Thought). The universal statement has existential import for Aristotle--that is, the truth of the claim implies the existence of the subject term. The truth of an I claim:

'Some dragons breathe fire'

follows from the affirmation of the corresponding A statement:

'All dragons breathe fire'

Boole denies that the universal quantifier carries existential import. The proposition for example:

'All trespassers will be shot'

does not imply the existence of trespassers. This leads to the modern theory that the universal statement is a quantified conditional statement ('For all things, if they are trespassers, then they will be shot'). The antecedent phrase can be false in this case (since there is no such thing as a dragon), and the statement still true.

Thus the Darputi syllogism:

All dragons are animals
All dragons breathe flames
Some animals breathe flames

is Aristotle-valid, but Boole-invalid.

For the modern take, see especially Stephen Read's Thinking about Logic (Chapter 5), which is a good, accessible survey of the field. See also:

Quine, "On What there Is" in From a Logical Point of View.

Read, Stephen. "'Exists' is a Predicate" Mind (89) 1980 pp. 412-417

Russell, "The Existential Import of Propositions" Mind 14 (1905) p. 398-401

Russell, "On Denoting" Mind 14 p. 497-493; frequently reprinted

Russell, "Lectures on the Philosophy of Logical Atomism" (esp. Lectures 5 and 6)

The development of "free logic" (logic free of existential assumptions) might also interest you to this end. It is briefly surveyed in the Read book Thinking about Logic.

lostmarbles said...

What is this crap? Don't you know that all we care about is jobs, jobs, jobs?!

lostmarbles said...

I have lost my ability to make my subjects and verbs agree at this point. How can anyone be thinking about philosophy right now? : P

Anonymous said...

Today was supposed to be bad weather from PA on north and west to Chicago. I'm hoping a lot of people didn't bother to come into work, and search committees will be contacting more densely in the middle of the week instead.

Anonymous said...

Regarding smokers -- I experienced my first couple of those the last two years. They do seem to be a little awkward, but at times extremely useful. A few words of advice:
1) If you do go, make sure you don't screw up royally by seeing someone on a SC that just interviewed you that day (pleasantly so) and turn tail and literally jog-walk away from said person. Do you think I didn't see you see me and then hustle away like you suddenly realized you had somewhere to be at the opposite end of the room?

Look, maybe I'm not in the mood to chitchat with you either since a bunch of friends from grad school are sitting right over there at the grad school's table, but at the very least you could smile and give a greeting and suggest you'll stop by our table later. I would stop and chitchat with you b/c we're here as part of our jobs, and my socializing can wait so we can have a pleasant interaction. Running away from me suggests that you aren't interested in the job at all and want to avoid getting caught in a conversation with someone unworthy of your time or you're completely socially incompetent. Either way it doesn't look good.

2) Remember that most small departments consider you not just a potential researcher and teacher but a potential colleague (maybe for life). In a small department, how people get along can matter a great deal. So showing that you are capable of social interaction is a good thing (if you actually are -- if not, then avoid the smoker on some pretense). Also, it's nice to get a sense of who you are outside the research/teaching nexus, too. It's not essential, of course, but it's an additional part of the picture of you as scholar and human. But if all you can talk about outside scholarly life is your participation in the Society for Creative Anachronism and some of the more rousing jousts you've had, by all means speak only about teaching and research and scholarly focused things. Please. Really. (I'm into some things others might consider silly, too, but I'm not gonna talk about them at the socializing portion of my job interview either. Some things can wait for the delightful surprise of getting to know new colleagues).

Finally, I too, think it's a good idea to stop by the table on Friday of schools you're interviewing with the next day. Obviously this isn't the time to get into a really detailed discussion, especially if there are other candidates there already, but a polite introduction to give some sense that you're looking forward to a longer chat (yeah, that's funny -- the interview as "chat") tomorrow, etc, would be nice. However, if you have a lot of interviews (lucky dog) on day one, you may be too busy following up with those. No harm, no foul.

Also, if you bring a spouse or partner with you, that's fine. It's nice to meet them. If that person sits at the SC table and completely dominates the conversation for the whole time you're both there, that's not so fine. It just leaves a weird impression. Although this is a social chitchat, the goal is for you to get a feel for the SC and them for you, and to come back to any questions that you felt you didn't field well (if you can do this subtlely, all the better).

juniorperson said...

Thanks, will philosophize for food. That's a really cool list--I'm off to the library after posting grades tomorrow!