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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Post-Meat Market Silence

We are not hiring at Marquette this year, and so for the first time in four years I was not at the FRC.  I don't have much to add to the prior posts concerning what separates the candidates who get callbacks from those who don't.  And I couldn't agree more that the difficulty of drawing those distinctions can only be appreciated from the interviewing side of the table. I'd been led to believe that life as an interviewer would involve frequent instances of candidates bombing in spectacular and memorable ways.  That hasn't been the case.  I've certainly witnessed interviews that didn't go well. I've yet to see a disaster.

All of which means that you may be reading this as a candidate whose only phone calls have been from your spouse or your clients.  Meantime, the hiring thread below reveals that others are getting callbacks.  Some of them are getting lots of callbacks.  And these are from the places where you thought you had a good interview.  I've been there.  (Though without the additional anxiety that I'm guessing accompanies instant knowledge that those callbacks are going to others.)

One of the other things best appreciated from the hiring side is just how many of us were meat market candidates more than once.  Without thinking too hard about it I can identify eight people whose first trip to the meat market was unsuccessful.  And I am not what you'd call well-connected, so I'm drawing on a pretty small sample size.  Some of those repeat players have since made very nice names for themselves.

My first trip to the meat market netted me a respectable number of interviews and nothing else but heartache.  To call me unprepared would have been to understate the matter.  (Let's just say I was a little too reliant on the skills I used to interview with law firms and leave it at that.)  My second trip, several years later, opened with an interview with a team from what was probably my least-preferred of the schools on my dance card.  They wanted to know if I was interested in a non-tenure track position the details of which did not even remotely pique my interest.  That was kind of a depressing start.  I had a break between that interview and the next and recall sitting in the lobby thinking that the whole process would again turn out to be a waste of time.

Turned out I was wrong.  I had a better sense of what I was doing (as well as a couple more publications, a work in progress that I was pretty excited about, and an actual, you know, scholarly agenda).  That led to callbacks, and ultimately a job offer.

I do not want to offer up false hope.  These jobs are hard to come by, and not everyone will get one.  But for those of you who have heard nothing: the fact that your phone has been silent so far doesn't mean it's over. Sometimes, for various reasons, the call won't come until December or January.  Or even, on rare occasions, later.  Of course, there's a real possibility that this won't be your year at all.  You might have to do some more writing and think seriously about how you present yourself (which, paradoxically, may involve showing enthusiasm for the non-scholarly aspects of the job) and come back another year.  It ain't easy, and it's hardly a sure thing, but it can be done.

Posted by Chad Oldfather on November 12, 2008 at 05:29 PM | Permalink

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