Saturday, December 14, 2013

Job Talk

The day started at 10 am.  I was interviewed by the search committee for an hour.  Thoughtful questions:  Have you participated in any change efforts, if so, please describe?  What is the primary issue facing social work that needs to be addressed in education? Talk about your scholarly activity and teaching philosophy.  What are your strengths and limitations?

At 11 am, I got to meet with the Dean.  He spelled out the state of the college and university and trend projections.  He talked salary and perks.  It all sounded very good.

At lunchtime, I ate with some of the faculty, including new and familiar faces. They suggested that I consider negotiating for items in addition to salary (technology, travel expenses, etc.). I asked about the challenges and strengths of working at this school.  I got candid responses.  So far so good.

My colloquium was at 1:30.  It was a packed room.  They were attentive and asked questions.  The job talk tips I found online told me to be prepared for zingers.  Few zingers were asked, thankfully.  Mostly, they were curious.  They wanted me to ask them questions too.  I asked them what they were looking for in a candidate.  They said, "someone who likes to teach, which you clearly do."  They read me like a book.  They also said, "someone who has a sense of humor, which you have."  Flattery is always appreciated (thank you).

Then there was about an hour of informal Q&A scheduled.  Half a dozen of the faculty and staff attended.  Everyone came off as warm and friendly - in a very real and honest way.  Like they have been together for a long time (which they have) and gotten really comfortable with each other (in a good way).

Next was a meeting with the director.  He was engaging, complimentary and supportive.  He gave me positive feedback about my presentation and extolled the virtues of the school.  He was also clear about expectations - what they were looking for in an Assistant Professor.  All still good.

The day ended with dinner.  Very nice restaurant - 20s decor and ambiance, eclectic menu and smooth house wine.  It was just me and the search committee again.  I had been asking questions all day (how to get tenure? how many publications required? what is the teaching load and schedule? is there money for travel to conferences? what are the opportunities to secure internal and external research funding? how did you manage to secure NIH funding? and so on).  I didn't have many questions left and my head was spinning with new faces, information and all the experiences of the day.  I asked them what made them decide to come to this particular school.  Their answers reflected who they are and what was happening in their lives at the time they applied.  Mostly it boiled down to deciding what's best for you, right here and now.  Also, just like in real estate, location mattered.

One of the committee members recommended a book written by his mentor, Karen Sowers-Hoag (and Diane Harrison):  "Finding an Academic Job." It includes all the informal stuff that is important in these kinds of searches.  I've already ordered it from amazon.

I got home after 8 pm. I brought in the trash bins that were curbside.  I kissed my daughter good night.  Then I played the meditations on my iPhone to put me to sleep.

Thank you, Yesus, and good night.

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