Thursday, January 07, 2016


from Brooklyn Museum's Coney Island show

I wrote this up for twitter, and then for fb, and now I'm sharing it with you here.

By way of wishing those of you at the Big Show all the best, here follow My Interview Blunders.

Now, while I'm imagining that these errors were errors, and that they cost me job offers, I'm possibly wrong in both cases. Why I didn't get campus visits and/or offers in these cases may, and indeed, likely has nothing to do with me: the other candidates may have been better fits, the administration may have had a hand in decisions, a particular course needed to be filled immediately, and so on. We can't know. Since we have power only over our own behavior, we tend to believe that it's only our own behavior that matters. You're probably doing much better, in fact, than you think you are.

Second, at this late stage - when I'm tenured and promoted -- of course I have to acknowledge that the opportunity to have blown this many interviews - if that's what I did - is itself a mark of 2007, a brief point before Austerity Administrations clamped down on all jobs but deanships.

With all that in mind, let this be directed, too, at the interviewers, my peers, and as you interview your candidates, be as kind as I hope you will be, and remember your own interview slips. And those of you interviewing, remember that they wouldn't even be talking to you if they didn't want you to do well!

The tweets:

* Remembering the interview I blew when I realized belatedly they wanted someone who could teach Old English too. [expanded version: "How would you teach Old English?" [blinks. pauses. blinks] "I'd start with...the riddles, so we could all learn together, haha."]

* Remembering the interview I blew, probably, when me, a medieval animals scholar, couldn't say how'd he teach the hunting scenes in SGGK. ["me...couldn't say"]

* Remember another interview when I expressed my enthusiasm for Shakespeare by shouting the "kill kill kill &c him" line from CORIOLANUS.

* Someone at another one killed *me* with a question about MINIMA MORALIA that I *still* don't understand.

* 1 more: interview dinner where I thought it'd be funny to pretend briefly to be the kind of guy who's mad when waiter takes wine glass away. I'm sure that didn't lose me the job but, verbum sap., folks: do NOT engage in Dad Jokes at table.

* and finally, there was the Hudson Valley school where during the "q's for us" portion I asked them what they did for fun, being so far from NYC.

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