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Author Topic: Ironman Interviewing  (Read 27236 times)
polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« on: February 22, 2012, 9:10:24 PM »

What have you done recently for which you should get a medal and the job just for making the attempt?

Any fool can keep it together for a three-day interview where you meet with everyone from the dean to the janitor.

Anyone can do a fabulous 8 am teaching demo to a roomful of people who were clearly the only people in the building at that time.

I'm talking bragging rights for things like teaching a nearly full day, driving three hours to the airport, having a couple hour flight, driving another couple hours to the college, doing a casual meet-and-greet with the search committee that starts after your normal bedtime, doing that 8 am teaching demo, meeting with everyone for a full day, and reversing the trip so that you pull into your driveway at 2:30 am, but you will be teaching a full-day again at your regular job at 9 am.

Surely I'm not the only person doing things like this in an attempt to not lose the job I have (and that is in the process of possibly, maybe, becoming tenure-track) while interviewing from the middle-of-nowhere and trying to move to a different middle-of-nowhere.

What do you folks have that will win the Ironman Interviewing Medal?  Share those stories!
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dalekk
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2012, 9:44:07 PM »

A couple years ago I did a two day campus visit on Monday and Tuesday.  They drove me back to the airport on Wednesday.  I caught a flight back home.  I landed and immediately caught a flight (without leaving the airport) to go to my next campus visit scheduled for Thursday and Friday.  Here's the kicker: I was headed back to the exact same region (but different airport).  School 2 was only 75 miles away from School 1.  Both schools bought my plane tickets and I didn't want to explain to them that I had another interview at a nearby school so I flew back home and turned right back around.  So I got dropped off at airport 1, flew home, switched gates, flew to Airport 2, and got picked up by a member of the SC from School 2.  It was pretty crazy (to me at least). 
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helpful
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2012, 9:45:48 PM »

Both schools bought my plane tickets and I didn't want to explain to them that I had another interview at a nearby school so I flew back home and turned right back around. 
Why didn't you just lie and say you wanted to visit a friend or family in the nearby city? That's what I would have done.
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citrine
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2012, 10:14:11 PM »

On a Monday, I flew to Campus #1 in the middle of a blizzard and woke up the next morning (Tuesday) to discover that they'd cancelled classes. I did my teaching demo to a room full of faculty who were rather annoyed to be hauled in on their snow day, dutifully trooped around the very snowy campus on a tour, and had several meals with a very wonderful and patient SC member who was stuck trying to think of things for me to do since most of the schedule had gone out the window.

That night I flew back to the nearest airport to my university, was driven the approximately two hours back to my apartment, frantically triaged through my email and solved the most pressing problems (to earn my graduate stipend, I was the "computer person" for two major programs in my department, so if things were on fire, I was one of the few who could put them out), unpacked and repacked my luggage, got a whopping two hours of sleep, and then went back to the airport on Wednesday morning and flew through another blizzard (curse you, January campus visits!) which delayed both of my flights to Campus #2, where people kept apologizing for the weather until I explained that I was raised in [equally snowy area several hours away]. Fortunately, their classes weren't cancelled on Thursday, so I did the whole teaching-demo/job talk/dean-visit/endless-hours-of-conversation routine.

The department head was extolling how the area never had traffic problems, so of course we ended up in a traffic jam on the way back to the airport. However, that was fine, since my flight had been cancelled! I had been automatically rebooked, but since I had been automatically rebooked on a credit card that wasn't mine, I ended up in the "special search" line for security, and they were very thorough in searching me from the top of my severe black suit to the bottom of my sensible shoes, which meant that I almost missed my rebooked flight.

Then I got to the airport and discovered that my then-partner's car had broken down, which meant that he couldn't pick me up at the airport, which meant that I had to wait another two hours for the last shuttle back to University Town (which took two hours).  I think I finally got home around 2 a.m. Friday morning.

I don't know what I did that Friday, but I think it involved a lot of sleeping.

Campus #1 demanded that I come back several weeks later and do a SECOND campus visit on a not-snow-day since they felt that they hadn't seen the "authentic" teaching demo that they wanted. I stupidly went back, and -- you guessed it -- another blizzard! They managed to round up some very disgruntled students and then I never heard from them again after I returned home. Campus #2 ended up offering me the job and I took it (and am still there). I do not tell any visiting candidates that we have no traffic jams.
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reener06
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2012, 10:54:21 PM »

Did last year's interview while teaching 4 classes, including one accelerated class (16-week semester in 8 weeks)at not-near campus. Went to not-near campus, lectured my 2 hours, (class was great and wished me luck), went to airport and flew to campus; somewhere in there began getting sick and woke up next day feeling like crap. Went through the whole day with it, and by the time I left felt like I hadn't gotten the job. Returned late Thursday night; taught at closer campus Friday for 3 hours. Didn't get the job. Defended dissertation the following week, so prepped for that too.

This year had baby while teaching 5 classes. Invited for campus interview and flew out while baby was 5 weeks old. Left baby with MIL, which I didn't want to do. Had to pump enough milk the two weeks prior to interview to feed baby while gone; fought mastitis the first week, and the second week had so much going on, milk supply dwindled and I began freaking out that I wouldn't have enough milk. Left very early Wed am--as I was packing breast pump bags, all for carry-on, bag's zipper broke. I was late for the airport. Threw everything into another bag and made it. Did a great job on the interview, but had to pump every 4 hours (which often was 6 hours). Member of the SC got lost twice getting me to and from hotel, while I was dying to pump both times. Got caught in rain before my job talk (after being told it NEVER rains) and looked drenched during job talk. Because I was. Still, did a great job. Could not sleep a lot of the night--had to pump anyway. Returned late Thursday, and taught 3 hour class Friday. Found people to cover my Wed and Thursday classes--Thursday's sub emailed me at the last minute to tell me he forgot he also taught on Thursday. Still found a last-minute sub.

Oh, and on that second interview I heard from 3 independent sources the other guy was the favorite. So favorite, he was telling people the month before he was moving to interview town. Yeah, he got the job. I did all that knowing my chances were slim. All I can say is, I did a great job. And I never want to do that again (leave a 5 week old infant/interview 5 weeks postpartum).
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aandsdean
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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2012, 11:26:03 PM »

Three VPAA interviews in two weeks.  The last one (for the job I now have) involved a 150-mile drive back to the airport in a blinding blizzard in a tiny, tinny rental Kia.

It was a long couple of weeks.  Two of the interviews (the first two) were in Georgia and Alabama, and it almost mad sense just to stay in Atlanta and drive to the one in Alabama, but that would have involved staying in GA for three days rather than flying home to the plains and returning.  Then early the next week I came here and spent 2.5 days interviewing.
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dalekk
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2012, 11:33:46 PM »

Both schools bought my plane tickets and I didn't want to explain to them that I had another interview at a nearby school so I flew back home and turned right back around. 
Why didn't you just lie and say you wanted to visit a friend or family in the nearby city? That's what I would have done.

Couple things.  First, it would have seemed odd to have told them I was taking the entire week by canceling my classes for their visit and then saying the hell with the rest of my classes I'm visiting a friend.  And second, I'm not sure how the logistics of it would have worked out since I was at two different airports and both schools were expecting to pay for my plane ticket. 
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lohai0
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2012, 12:10:41 AM »

My was partially self-inflicted...

When I was living in The Back of Beyond (west Michigan) I had a campus visit in Middle of Nowhere, WY. I knew going in I had little chance, and since it turned out to be cheaper to drive than to fly, I decided to visit some national parks on my way. I had a VAP interview in Chicago 4 days after the Wyoming interview. I gave myself three days to get back (did all my visiting on the way out). Well, since I had been hiking and listening to books on tape, I had no idea that the Mississippi had flooded and destroyed the interstates in Wisconsin and Iowa. It took me two days to get through Wisconsin alone. I was about an hour from home when I realized that I needed to turn around and drive back to Chicago to make the other interview. I had to change back into (not-so-clean) interview clothes at a scary rest stop. I did not get either job.
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musclememory
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2012, 12:35:56 AM »

"We'd love to have you visit our campus," they say.

"Great!" I say.

"How does this Tuesday work for you?"

Not as if I have a choice, I reply, "Oh sure.  That would be fine."

"Also, we really enjoyed the writing sample you sent us.  Obviously we don't want you to give that as a job talk, seeing as how we've all read it already, but something along those lines would be great."

"Oh, sure thing," I say, panicking at the reality that I don't have anything "along those lines" at all.

So I use unholy amounts of coffee to pound out a 20-page paper on a fresh topic (previously just a mild curiosity) over the course of five days.  I print my handouts and finish my PowerPoint at 1:30 AM.  At 2:45 AM, I leave the house for an airport more than two hours away, and I fly 3700 miles. 

I manage to nail the interview and the job talk.  Whew.  The only task now is getting back in time to teach.  On Wednesday, at 8:30 AM, 3700 miles away.

The redeye flight gets me in at 6:20 AM to the airport 115 miles from campus.  I literally shove slow passengers out of my way as I deplane, declaring, "I'm a teacher, dammit!  I've got a lesson to give!" and run to my car in the parking lot. 

Cruising at 85+ MPH the whole way, I sense that I might not make it to campus in time to park my car and go to my building.  I call my partner on the cell phone and tell him to catch the bus to campus, because I'm going to have to hand it off to him to drive it home.  I break land speed records, avoid cops, and manage to roar into campus at 8:27 AM, where my partner is waiting.  I have not slept in 37 hours at this point.

I hand off the car, run to class (I changed my clothes while driving), walk in the door, and give a top notch lecture. 

Oh, and did I mention that I had a 10AM Skype interview with another school, after that?  No.  I didn't.  Well, that went well too.  Got a campus invite out of it.

Like a boss.
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msparticularity
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2012, 1:49:44 AM »

I'm not quite up there with some of y'all, but here's what getting to my interview for my new position looked like:

For a variety of reasons, I taught a four-course load of graduate courses last fall (two of which were new to me, and two of which involved overseeing actual research projects). My interview was on a Thursday/Friday very near the end of the semester, so I really, really couldn't cancel my Wednesday night classes. I taught until 9 p.m. and then talked to some students in crisis over their final papers on Wednesday night, went home and got my car, and drove 3.5 hours along the way--crossing time time zones--toward my destination before stopping at a motel for the night. The motel had my room key ready, but the computer system was down and they couldn't figure out how to check me in and swipe my credit card and stuff. It took 45 minutes for the desk clerk to decide he wasn't going to be able to deal with it until morning, and that he should just give me my room key and we would deal with it at check-out. By that time it was around 3 a.m.

I went to bed and sort of dozed for a couple of hours--interspersed with tossing and turning because the bed was supremely uncomfortable--before getting back up at 7 a.m. to leave by 8 a.m. and drive the rest of the way to campus. (The motel never did get their system fixed that day, and despite my conscientious follow-up, still hasn't ever charged me for the room!) The drive involved weaving through some very lovely, and very hilly, countryside, with excitement occasioned by getting behind Amish farmers driving carriages on very narrow two-lane roads.

Once I arrived on campus I had, in rapid succession, an introductory meeting, my research talk, my teaching demo, and meetings with the Dean and a bunch of other Very Important People, before proceeding directly to a dinner with the SC. The SCC and the whole SC were very kind to me, and did make sure I ate, got liquids, and was allowed to visit the restroom from time to time. At the end of that day, I got to go to bed at a very lovely local lodging with really comfortable beds, and actually slept. The next morning I got up, after having had something fairly normal like 7  hours of sleep, to go to more meetings, including one with the President. Despite the fact that I was actually dopier on that day, I was apparently functional enough that they did end up offering me the job!
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temporaryname
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« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2012, 2:55:12 AM »

Both schools bought my plane tickets and I didn't want to explain to them that I had another interview at a nearby school so I flew back home and turned right back around. 
Why didn't you just lie and say you wanted to visit a friend or family in the nearby city? That's what I would have done.
Couple things.  First, it would have seemed odd to have told them I was taking the entire week by canceling my classes for their visit and then saying the hell with the rest of my classes I'm visiting a friend.  And second, I'm not sure how the logistics of it would have worked out since I was at two different airports and both schools were expecting to pay for my plane ticket. 
Not to mention that two of the schools I've worked at (so I assume it's not an entirely rare practice) have had policies that they'll only pay for travel specifically related to the interview, so no extra days for visiting friends or whatever.
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totoro
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« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2012, 6:21:10 AM »

Once upon a time I was asked at 9pm that night to come to an interview in Australia for later that week from where I lived in Boston. The next morning (this was before online plane ticket purchasing was common in 1996) I went to the travel agent and bought a ticket. Took the T back home and got my stuff together and a taxi back to the airport and was on the plane to Australia in the afternoon... But maybe this isn't the sort of thing you are thinking of :) From the other direction, 5 years later, I didn't appreciate going from 40C (104F) the day I left Australia to snow and then -20C (-4F) later in the week in Illinois... That interview was a disaster. My most recent overseas interview was in Austria which was fun but a big rush to get there and back and not miss any teaching. Well, I could go on...

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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2012, 8:32:11 AM »

All right!  Keep 'em coming because I need something to get me through the next couple weeks where I've got things stacked back-to-middle-to-side.  I'm using your stories to goad myself to better performance, wuss that I am.  I am going to use the line "I'm a teacher, dammit!  I've got a lesson to give!" at some point in the next two weeks. 
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karmann
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2012, 2:03:22 PM »

Back to back interviews, one about 500 miles north of home, one about 400 miles south of home.  Had to take the family with me because it was late in the hiring season and both schools wanted to move fast, so I needed spouse's input immediately.  Drove all Thursday evening with spouse and two small children (2yo and less than six months) to North City, did the North City interview Friday and Saturday. Drove back late Saturday.  On Sunday morning, drove to South City, had dinner with faculty there that night, did the all-day interview thing (including a short recital--I'm in music--on top of the traditional interviews and job talk)  on Monday with them in the suit I'd worn Friday (and not cleaned, of course).   This was June, and it was a million degrees with 200% humidity in South City.

Fortunately, North College (which I preferred for any number of reasons) called and offered me the job on Monday afternoon while I was interviewing at South U. , and I told the SC at South U. about the offer that evening, because I felt it was the right thing to do.  I still work at North College, and I'm sure I made the right choice pulling out of the South U. search, but I don't think I would've gotten the job at South U. if I had stayed in the running.  My interview there definitely suffered due to my fatigue.   
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madhatter
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« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2012, 2:45:27 PM »

Day 1. 7 AM flight to New York. Cab ride from JFK to Manhattan, where I had a one hour interview with the search committee up on the 14th floor of a giant high-rise college complex. Stopped for a slice of pizza on the way. Cab ride back to JFK, arrived at home around 10 PM.

Day 2. 6 AM flight to LAX. Car service ride to Orange County, where I had a one hour interview with the search committee. Car service picked me up and drove me back to LAX. Got home around midnight.

Day 3. 7 AM flight to ORD, then a sprint to make a connection to a little regional jet that took me to Kansas City. Picked up by search committee chair for a one hour drive out to a depressing little campus somewhere in rural Missouri. Long series of interviews, including a job talk and meeting with the provost. Chair drove me back to the airport. I ate a barbecue dinner at the airport then flew home. Got in around 1 AM.

Day 4. Up at 6 to get my toddler ready for day care. Then, I think I went home and back to bed.


Friends of mine on Facebook were confused that one status update read "Just drove past the Staten Island ferry" and the next said "My, it sure is foggy in LA today!"


I didn't get any of those jobs, either.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2012, 2:46:44 PM by madhatter » Logged

"I may be an evil scientist, but it doesn't take a degree purchased from the Internet with your ex-wife's money to know how special and important you are to me." -- Dr. Doofenschmirtz
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