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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Getting through the hiring process

I’ve had a great time here the last two weeks as a guest blogger. Thanks to Dan, Ethan, and the Prawfsblawg gang for letting me use this site as the guinea pig for my first blogging experience.

As I leave for now, I’d also like to leave you with my two cents regarding the faculty hiring process. Some of these points have been mentioned by others such as Orin Kerr, Christine Hurt, Dan Solove, Dan Markel, Ethan Leib, and Ron Wright. But I wanted to share some  of my own big picture thoughts on the faculty hiring process. 

1. I’ve been through the process more than once. The process is grueling and can be very stressful. As with everything else in life, don’t worry about the success (or lack thereof) of other candidates. Just focus on being your best self – if it works out this year, great. If not, congratulate your friends who landed faculty positions and start thinking about getting ready for next year.

2. In order to be at your best, approach it like any other demanding process (such as the bar exam, a marathon, or whatever analogy you like) and take care of yourself physically and mentally.   You need to be well rested, you should exercise, and you should stay in the zone. Once the entire process is over you can collapse -- but during those crucial few months (callbacks, etc.) be at the top of your game. Personally, I scheduled far too many interviews in D.C. and was a zombie by the end of both interviewing days. Some people can fly through 25 interviews in two days, fresh and with bells on, but I am not one of those people. So don’t try to talk to every school that calls you for an interview if you know it will mean you'll  show up at your last interviews looking like a creature from Night of the Living Dead.

3. Stay positive and confident. We don’t like to admit it, but faculty members can make less-than-kind comments about their least-favored candidates. A friend of mine had the awful experience of receiving a scathing email about her candidacy, cc’d to the entire faculty. No matter -- she ended up with a faculty position at a great (read: prestigious) school.   

4. This comment extends to faculty life more generally, so you may as well get ready for this reality now. Being on the market and/or being a law professor is an incredibly time consuming process that can place enormous demands on your family and significant other. It helps if you can explain the process to them, what demands you are going through, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (for many faculty members, that light is the end of Spring semester, after we’ve turned in our grades and can focus on scholarship).

5. We’re often not aware of the most important moments in life until they’ve passed. There are a crucial few minutes in the interview room at the meat market where the hiring committee will stop the pleasantries and ask you to discuss your academic agenda and scholarship. This may only last ten minutes, but this is a make-or-break ten minutes. Know your “elevator speech” inside and out. Don’t drone on until the hiring committee members' eyes glaze over. Similarly, practice your job talk over and over. And then practice it again. This is not to be done in front of a mirror by yourself. It is crucial that you present your talk to people in your field (preferably faculty members, but lawyers at the minimum – generally your grandpa won’t do), get their feedback and then see if you can round up another gang of victims (or the same gang, if you haven’t worn out your welcome) to practice in front of one once you’ve corrected the mistakes of your first run-through. If you can stand it (most people can’t), videotape yourself. You’ll be surprised at what you see.

Posted by Marcy Peek on July 12, 2005 at 12:16 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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» An Academic Jobseekers' Guide to Food and Drink from PrawfsBlawg
There have already been a number of excellent posts on how to prepare oneself for the academic job market in law, and how to negotiate the process of interviewing both at the AALS in D.C. and on campus at law schools. My contribution dwells less on the... [Read More]

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Comments

It would be useful if you folks could create a single page with all these postings about the job market in one place, for ease of linkage and reference by others in the future. Thanks.

Posted by: BL | Jul 12, 2005 11:29:26 AM

"Elevator speech"? You mean, literally in an elevator?

Posted by: Schmoe | Jul 12, 2005 12:18:06 PM

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