Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Unaccountably depressed

Unaccountably depressed


So I just got the call about the job for which I interviewed today. Despite the fact that I really didn't like the job or the way they ran the interview, I'm really depressed that they chose someone else. This is despite my misgivings about the whole interview process, which just got worse. One of the questions on their sheet (same questions for all candidates) was "With your emphasis on American History, how do you make it relevant to students and bring it a global perspective?" I admitted that I was not an Americanist, and was actually surprised to find I was the only person on the list who wasn't. They said that the person they hired would essentially be the History department. I asked if there were any future plans to expand the department to reflect the diversity and expertise necessary to teach well all the subjects they envisioned: US, World, ethnic studies, women's studies, indigenous peoples, global studies. Not any time soon. Or perhaps I totally screwed up the "challenging student and how I dealt with him" question. In which case, I probably totally screwed it up at MW LA college. I gave an example of a challenge, the fact that I'd been so thrown that I'd actually asked a colleague to observe the class and see if the dynamic I felt was real (challenging everything I said because I'm a woman and to impress the rest of the class -- mostly 16-20 y.o. women), and then eventually, after trying other methods, resorted to shutting the student down in public. I was clear that felt I'd not managed it as I'd liked, but that I had tried other things (but I don't think I emphasized those other things) and did it only as a last resort. And that every class is different and that there's no one way to deal with these things. Or maybe I was too bossy (I like to think I was pushing for rigor) in teh group exercise? Or maybe they just brought me in to make up numbers? So not happy at the moment. Really hope one of the others offers. Wondering if I can still get apps out there, or if I should just go ahead and count on adjuncting again and trying next year. At least there's that, if I don't get the perfect job at MW LA college or the really decent, I'd be good and very happy job in NE.

Funny thing is, I looked over my union-mandated tenure report (even though I was not in a TT position, they had to do the report in case my contract could be extended). It talks about my contributions, service, collegiality, and the fact that I'm a really great teacher. How is it I'm not able to show it in an interview? Except, of course, that I got the job I'm in by interviewing, and was one of five candidates. Maybe I don't suck that much. But I feel like I do just now.

6 comments:

Jonathan Dresner said...

One thing to remember: interviewing success is not an absolute achievement, but a relative one. You may have struggled with your "difficult student" answer, but it could still have been three times as good as the answer given by the other candidates, who probably have less classroom experience and self-reflection than you (or maybe it only needed to be ten percent better, whatever).

Conversely, you can give a great interview, and still lose out to someone whose credentials are a better fit (only slightly, obviously, or you wouldn't both be in the interview stage), or who happened to give a world-class interview that day.

I don't know about your field, but late-deadline jobs do exist, particularly of the one-year variety. The ones that arise when someone gets hired away by a better school...

New Kid on the Hallway said...

I'm sorry you didn't get the job! Except that it sounds like it wouldn't have been that great a fit for you, so you might not have enjoyed it very much, but it still sucks not to get things. I wouldn't worry about being a bad teacher/interviewee, though; from what you've said, their interview process was really lame, and whatever reasons they brought you in in the first place, it sounds like the cards weren stacked against you in terms of fit, that they were really looking for an Americanist. (I got brought on campus once for a primarily World History position based on - I imagine - having TAed for World in grad school something like 7 years earlier. I think they were going on the fact that my program has a good reputation for a World History emphasis, but boy! the interview was pretty sad because I just really wasn't what they were looking for.) Also, I suspect some folks/depts would interpret the question about plans for expansion as criticism (despite their own utterly unrealistic expectations for what one person in one position can do). Or, yes, they may have brought you in to make up numbers (I had a friend who is convinced she got on-campus once because the school had to include a woman in the final group - they were so utterly uninterested in her once she got there). The thing is, you can never know why you don't get something, but I'd be willing to bet that in this case it's nothing to do with your abilities.

Crossing my fingers for the other positions!!

New Kid on the Hallway said...

(the cards WERE stacked against you in terms of fit - sorry, the typo'ed "weren" sounds kind of ambiguous!)

meg said...

As JD and NewK said -- rejection is awful. But acceptance by these people sounds worse than rejection, frankly. It has all the makings of a job from hell.

Ancarett said...

Commiserations here, but that tidbit about "American history" was probably the chief reason -- they were looking to hire an Americanist and you made it to the list despite that. Which is very impressive, but still means that the cards are stacked heavily against you.

Here's hoping one of the other interviews pans out nicely!

What Now? said...

It always feels bad to be rejected, but it really does sound like they wanted an Americanist. The fact that you're a medievalist is hardly a character flaw, so this seems to be a situation of what they were looking for rather than what you failed to do.

Just yesterday a colleague told me that she'd read a study that concluded that women tend to credit good news to good luck and bad news to personal failure, whereas men tend to credit good news to their own abilities and bad news to bad luck. Interesting.