Spank it

Instead of asking tenure track job candidates those boring and predictable questions about research and publication plans, or how they propose to dovetail every proposed course with a predicted article, search committees could ask questions that reflect the reality of most applicants’ current job responsibilities, especially if the candidate is already a contingent faculty member. After all, isn’t the purpose of an interview to assess the applicant’s skills and capabilities? Well, voila! A new interview template suitable for our post-employment economy! It’s concise and cuts to the meat of the matter. Mock-interviews here we come!


Search Committee (SC): Hello sweet applicant! How have you managed to juggle 5 new course preps in the past two years with no administrative support and no monetary compensation for prep time?

Applicant (A): By frantically reading, downloading, and organizing complex theoretical material during the entirety of my winter break in preparation for spring semester, and doing this again during the summer! That is, after I finish grading papers from the prior semester, of course! It’s no problem – it’s usually during the time I have for writing and publishing.  Or it’s during family vacation time, and I just stay home. Or stay at the hotel when everyone else goes to the beach. It’s good quiet time for me. It’s totally fine! I am used to being alone all the time. Oh, and there was that one time I bribed the postal delivery person to scan some chapters into PDF and upload them to my course website. Usually I do that from 2-3a.m. while simultaneously writing lecture notes. We got to be friends, you see, the postal delivery person and me. Some days she is the only person I talk to during working hours! She’s sweet, really, to listen to me. Oh, and, the money part? Pshaw! No worries! I simply put off my trip to Bordeaux and instead took a tour of home-brew garage distilleries. Loved it!

SC: Wow! That shows time management, sharp attention to detail, the ability to prioritize, and the ability to liaise with diverse constituencies! Also, you clearly focus on your goals and don’t let anything—say an alluring summer seascape—get in your way! And you still managed to get three articles submitted for peer-review during the same two years! That is remarkable multi-tasking!

A: Why thank you! It has been excruciatingly difficult; thanks for recognizing this, especially as I have been teaching at the same institution as you, although I am not sure you recognize me? The home-brew also helped, of course.

SC: How do you manage to teach more courses with higher course loads than our Assistant Professors here? Do you think that your teaching load impacts your scholarship?

A: Why yes, now that you mention it, I think it does impact my scholarship! Gee, I never thought that maybe my teaching load should be considered when evaluating my productivity! But, no worries, I figured out a solution to having so many students: I gave up sleep.

SC: Impressive! Now that shows problem-solving skills and dedication to the mission of this institution! Just out of curiosity, how have you managed to pay your bills while getting paid 20,000-50,000 less than we do?

A: Errr…

SC: How do you see yourself fitting in to a workplace where very busy very important people do not have time—as very busy very important people—to talk to other people who are not as important but just as busy as they are? In other words, if you become one of us, can you ignore the new person who becomes you?

A: But of course! My graduate school program prepared me to be competitive and look down on others while attempting to surpass them! Collaboration is for ninnies!

SC: Wonderful! You certainly demonstrate superior training. One last question, how do you feel about the tenure-track as a metaphor for life?


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