Truly Bad Films

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hiring in Academia

An amusing article appeared last week in the Chronicle detailing some of the exceptional candidates the author has interviewed for her English department. Sample:
Some candidates arrive in pilled, frowsy sweaters and untied sneakers so we will know that they're true intellectuals. Others wear low-cut, tight dresses to keep our attention away from their presentations. One hollow-cheeked fellow wore a dark raincoat like a flasher during his entire interview. I confess I felt deflated when the climax never happened. The man who moved robotically from wall to wall like a machine shuttle and the woman whose braying voice almost blew us through the back window must have been speaking words or even sentences, but I was too busy clutching at my sanity to grasp their messages.

Been there - interviewed that! A batch of applications we got (when I worked at another college) included one printed on burnt-orange paper. If the owner was trying to stand out, he accomplished his goal. The burnt-orange resume was a tad out of date, it seems, so the candiate had corrected it in white Wite-Out. That resume stood out so much I still remember it twelve years later.

One candidate came to her interview wearing a lavender terry cloth short-shorts beach jumper that zipped up the front. To complete her beach theme, she carried a huge yellow straw beach bag. I was sad that her interview had to delay her time in the surf and sun that day and the rest of the committee must have felt the same way, because she was not invited to come work at our library.

Another candidate was asked to do a short teaching session, like the ones mentioned in the article. Nervous Nancy bolted to the front of the room and gave a speed-talking demonstration that convinced me she was missing out on a sparkling career as an auctioneer. When she was done she dashed back to her seat and plopped herself into it with such force that the chair slid sideways. The legs sliding against the floor honked like a train crossing an intersection. This was followed by a few seconds of stunned silence as the hiring committee struggled for words.

Then, there was the guy who came to his interview after a good month of missing out on bathing. His hair was styled with his own natural Crisco, and studded with raisin-sized chunks of dandruff. He was substantially over-weight, and he looked like he'd slept in his suit. His teeth were gray and there weren't enough of them. The gaps in his resume, he told us, represented his months in one of our fine mental health institutions. Call us hygiene-Nazis, weight-ists, Laundry Harpies and the Dental (or Mental) Elite, but we did not hire him.

Truth told, these tales of terror only scratch the surface of inappro paper-work, hygiene, clothing and behavior I've witnessed during library hiring searches, leading me to believe that if you're clean, well-dressed, have a readable resume on white paper, and seem genuinely interested in the job, you've already made it more than halfway there . . .


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