At my first academic conference, I was astounded to hear how many screening interviews took place in nearby hotel rooms. I heard a young woman describe sitting on a barely made bed while two members of the search committee sat in side chairs asking various questions. I’ll never forget what she said: “They met me in a hotel room, for gosh sakes! They worked me over and then they promised that they would call me later and they never did. I felt so cheap!”
She said that with the knowing laugh of experience, but it is startling to hear about some of the off-campus interview locations that are employed in the search process. I’ve heard of them taking place in airport bars in neutral cities, of breakfast interviews that competed with a local civic club for aural space, and even a golf-course interview.
The funniest ones I ever heard about involved vehicles. One was in the backseat of a president’s down-at-the-heels Toyota, with the president, two vice presidents, and the candidate driving around the campus and then back to the airport for the departing flight. Another was in an old unairconditioned truck; the candidate sat between a dean and a vice president on a bench seat while the dean reached over every now and then to shift gears. In both cases the interview schedules were pressed for time and were trying to combine the interview with a tour of the area.
What is the oddest setting you have experienced for an off-campus interview?