Sunday, September 14, 2008

Guest Post: Ten More Polite Instructions for Search Committees ('Tis the season)

A new guest post for you, my darlings, from the charmingly named Mister Philosophyhead. -- PGOAT

1. If you are your department's resident old crank who has decided in advance that no candidate's accomplishments are good enough for a job in your department, do not volunteer for the search committee. And if you do, please do not exchange superior glances with the other old crank on the committe while I am in the middle of answering one of your (outdated) questions.

2. If you are from a religious school and do not plan on bringing up your department's religious mission during the interview, there is no need to notify candidates in advance. If you do plan on getting into it, however, it would be nice to drop a hint when you make that initial phone call ("and then we'll spend 20 minutes talking about the last time you went to communion").

3. Don't make me fill out some online form where I have to list any misdemeanors just for you to look at my application. If I list my high-school shoplifting, I'm afraid I won't be hired; if I don't, I'll be constantly worried that it could come back to haunt me.

4. Don't send me a rejection notice in October of the next academic year. I've spent the previous 7-10 months getting over last year's job search, I've deduced by now that someone else got the job you advertised, and I don't want to be reminded. Would you send condolences to someone's widow 5 years later? Well, that's what it's like.

5. Don't give me an APA interview if no matter how well it goes, you won't invite me for a campus visit because of where my PhD is from. Don't waste my time and I won't waste yours. Seriously, this breaks my heart.

6. Just don't advertise a job that "includes teaching a possible course at Wisconsin State Penitentiary." It brings me down because I will actually apply for that job (and, despite my prior experience with the juvenile court system, still get rejected).

7. If you visited me and my officemates in our office, we would try not to yell obscenities at one another for the time you were there, even if that is how we normally act. We would want you to like us enough to come back sometime. So on your end, maybe you could find it in your heart to suppress any weird intradepartmental tensions or power struggles for the short duration of the interview.

8. Well, I wanted to get to ten but that guy on Rate Your Students covered most of the good stuff. Do yourself a favor, Mr. Search Committee Member, and go read his list one more time!

-- Mister Philosophyhead

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't mind teaching a possible course. My counterpart has the worst of it.

Anonymous said...

I don't get number 8 at all.

Although, while we're on the topic of "rateprof," you realize of course that there's nothing to keep you from rating yourself. Ahem.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:50--is that a modality joke? That is so unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with #5. Even if you're planning on rejecting me after the interview, still give me a chance. I welcome the opportunity to change your mind. Yeah, I've had interviews where I was out of the running before they called my name, and I look back on those as missed opportunities on my part not to be more persuasive. That's the way you've got to look at it if you're going to survive in this business.

Anonymous said...

anon 1:45, number 8 is quite literal. the blog 'rate your students' posted a previous list of instructions for search committee members, to which this one is an addition. check out this link: http://rateyourstudents.blogspot.com/2008/08/ten-polite-instructions-for-search.html

M.A. program faculty member said...

So on your end, maybe you could find it in your heart to suppress any weird intradepartmental tensions or power struggles for the short duration of the interview.

Why is that? Wouldn't you rather know in December that the department is screwed up so badly that they can't even put a lid on it during the interview, rather than finding out after you move across the country and land in a snakepit?

Anonymous said...

Okay, I got Leiter's posts about not allowing comments, but this last post on the NEH grants is one reason I really wish he would - at least more frequently than he does now. Is Leiter's take correct? Can other philosophers enlighten us as to what is the purpose of those grants?

I mean, no kidding those sorts of questions are taught in philosophy classes! Particularly at lower levels, before things get a bit more specialized. I want $25,000 the next time I teach an intro ethics class! So has anyone bothered to read over the NEH announcement? I'll be honest, I'm still working on my dossier, so I'm not willing to waste *quite* that much time, but I'd still like to know.

also enjoys cheese said...

I like 6

Anonymous said...

9. Given that I've prepared a 10-minute summary of my dissertation, and that you expect to start the interview by listening to it, please don't say, "So tell me a bit about your dissertation." Instead, say "Let's hear the summary of your dissertation that you prepared." It's really awkward to maintain the illusion that I'm talking off the cuff when everyone in the room knows I'm not.

Anonymous said...

10:37--I haven't read the whole thing, but I believe the NEH money will only go to people who teach new courses on these subjects. And they have to be taught in a non-discipline specific way. So no money if you if you claim that this just is what intro philosophy courses are about. You only get the cash if you deny that these are philosophical issues. It's a sort of government bribe/incentive to deny that philosophy really exists.

Anonymous said...

"Wouldn't you rather know in December that the department is screwed up so badly that they can't even put a lid on it during the interview, rather than finding out after you move across the country and land in a snakepit?"

If you were a potential future officemate, maybe the best thing would be for one of us to take you aside afterward and say, "You know we shout obscenities at each other all the time. Are you sure you want to move in here?"

--Mister Philosophyhead

Anonymous said...

"Even if you're planning on rejecting me after the interview, still give me a chance. I welcome the opportunity to change your mind."

I told this to my first wife, but she still ended up giving me the silent treatment for ten months, and then sending me some form letter telling me she'd chosen someone else.

--Mister Philosophyhead

Anonymous said...

Can anyone pinpoint the precise moment at which Leiter jumped the shark?

Anonymous said...

"9. Given that I've prepared a 10-minute summary of my dissertation, and that you expect to start the interview by listening to it, please don't say, "So tell me a bit about your dissertation." Instead, say "Let's hear the summary of your dissertation that you prepared." It's really awkward to maintain the illusion that I'm talking off the cuff when everyone in the room knows I'm not."

This could be shortened to "Please don't say, 'So tell me a bit about your dissertation.'"

--Mister Philosophyhead

Anonymous said...

Mister Philosophyhead - loved your response at 5:30. More in that vein should you post again.

Anonymous said...

anon 5:41, nice observation. probably around the time he went up to two posts per day, roughly 35% of which self-referencial, and with 28% eulogies, leaving rather little for the usual gossip. there's undeniable pleasure in watching ppl jump the shark.

juniorperson said...

"Wouldn't you rather know in December that the department is screwed up so badly that they can't even put a lid on it during the interview, rather than finding out after you move across the country and land in a snakepit?"

Oh, God, yes!!

My second TT job was at a seriously disfunctional R1 where departmental meetings consisted of rancour, religion, and ranting, all of which spilled over into every other departmental interaction. My favorite was when another asst. professor, during a discussion of a future hire, screamed (bright red in the face, eyes popping) at the sole reasonable associate prof. "You only like this guy because he'll lick your ass about your work on Heidigger!"

Ah, fun times!

(BTW--I am *SO* glad to have escaped that hellhole!!)