Sunday, February 10, 2008

Translations, Part III: The Campus Interview

In lieu of actual news...


"Oh, sure, there are direct flights to East Podunk."

Once a day, at five o'clock in the morning, on Billy-Bob's Discount Airline and Bait Shop. You might want to double-check and make sure your seat is bolted down.

"You'll be staying at the Dewdrop Inn in West Podunk, and one of the faculty members will meet you for dinner at the hotel restaurant."

We try not to let the candidates actually see East Podunk until after they've signed a contract.

"Teaching demonstrations will be held in Professor Sawyer's class."

Professor Sawyer has just discovered a great new way to get his fence painted.

"You should prepare a fifty-minute lecture for an audience of students and faculty."

No students will show up. But that's OK, because you'll find out that our faculty can slouch, roll their eyes, and fall asleep in class with the best of them!

The Itinerary:

"Prep time for teaching demo"

One of the faculty members will let you sit in his office. By way of being friendly, he will also keep up a steady stream of small talk, which will force you to think up appropriate replies. This will continue until someone takes you to the classroom, precisely fifteen seconds before the demo is supposed to begin.

"Lunch with students"

Brush up on your campaign promises.

"Open Q and A session with faculty"

Stealth job talk.

"Chapel service (optional)"

You are not only expected to attend, but to brush up on the appropriate responses for the denomination with which the college is affiliated.

Small talk:

"Our best students here are as good as the best students anywhere."

Both of them. We try not to think about the others.

"The cost of living in East Podunk is great!"

There is nothing to buy and nowhere to go, so the university doesn't bother to pay us anything.

"What do you like to do for fun?"

Quick, name a hobby that isn't too weird and can be conducted in the middle of a mud flat! Cooking is good if you're a man, but probably too gender-stereotypical if you're a woman. Um, how's your chess game?

Talking with Administrators:

"Here at Podunk Land-Grant U., we are very oriented toward student satisfaction. I think it's very important to have a quantifiable way to assess satisfaction, don't you agree?"

If your evals drop below 4.8 out of 5, you're out.

"Have you thought about the possible impact of quantum physics upon Shakespeare studies?"

I am a physicist.

"What do you think of Stanley Greenfunkel?"

Look at me! I know all about the big names in your field!

"Er ... Stanley Greenfunkel?"

I am an idiot. I don't know the big names in my own field.

"Er ... Stephen Greenblatt?"

I am arrogant. I don't hesitate to correct the Dean.

Driving to the Airport:

"The committee was SO impressed with your research and your teaching demo! You're such an amazing candidate! I'm sure you'll be getting lots and lots of offers!"

One of them won't be from us.


heu mihi said...

All too many of these are dead-on. I'd laugh if it weren't so painful.

Anonymous said...

"Teaching demonstrations will be held in Professor Sawyer's class."

Professor Sawyer has just discovered a great new way to get his fence painted.

Snerg! Ah, cleverness in the face of adversity -- the woeful academic's only friend.

I am sure you've jumped through all your hoops with extraordinary style, but just in case, I have my fingers crossed. (As for hobbies... how about mud sculpture?)

Fretful Porpentine said...

Heu mihi -- I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you! I'm sure things will work out, one way or another.

Neophyte -- Thanks. Alas, I do not interview well at all, but I'm hoping someone, somewhere will want to hire me...