Thursday, January 20, 2011

Status Update

This has been my best year on the job market so far. I'm attracting more attention from better places. I'm extremely happy with the way things are progressing. I'm also a nervous wreck.

I've had three interviews, one of which went nowhere, one of which turned into a campus visit (my first), and one of which I won't find out about for another few weeks.

The interview that went nowhere was a real bummer. I was very interested in the school and I felt very good about my performance. In previous interviews, I have always completely fucked up at least one question. This interview (from my perspective, anyway) seemed to contain no fuckups and several questions I was able to connect solidly with. I'm not saying I thought it was a home run, but I felt like I did very well and I allowed myself to start believing that I had a good chance of getting invited to campus. When I didn't get it I was super, duper bummed. I subsequently was invited to campus elsewhere, and I tried to channel the negative energy from the rejection into preparing a job talk.

I am extremely, very excited about this campus-visit situation. It's a good school in a nice place. My sense of the people is that they are awesome. I would love to get this job. But that is also a source of constant stress. I think about it all the time--I can't stop myself. And I'm scared to death I'm going to jinx it every time I have a remotely positive thought or one which presupposes that I will get this job, so I have been compulsively knocking on wood. The fact that I don't believe in jinxes notwithstanding, I am at a point where I must knock on wood for every second or third thought. This must be how mental illness begins.

Soon I will report on the actual campus visit. Good luck to all--I hope things are going well.

--Mr. Zero


Empathetic Former Traveller said...

I so remember the feelings you express (last year for me).

You probably already know this, but at this stage, they've narrowed the list down to about 4 people they really believe are qualified. Prove that they are not wrong, but, most importantly, prove you will be a good colleague. At the end of the day, they will select the qualified individual they would most like to work with personally. Smile, be friendly, demonstrate (somehow) that you'll pull your weight, and have fun with it.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

As for the interview that went nowhere, keep in mind that it is possible that you did actually hit a home run, but so did three (or more) other people. This more or less happened in the search I am currently a part of from the other side. It was very hard to pick three on-campus candidates, but it had to be done.

Anonymous said...

Very excited for you! Hope it goes well!

I've heard from a number of people that there is just no way to tell how you did in the initial interview, because there is way too much going on behind the scenes. (A member of the committee who handed you an interesting but easy question about your work and smiled and nodded the whole time might just be acting interested because he/she is humoring some other member of the committee, and so forth.) Your first interview sounds like it lines up with this general conclusion.

Anonymous said...


How many publications do you have?

Anonymous said...

Break a leg at the fly-out!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Mr Z. Just relax and focus on presenting your best stuff. The rest is out of your hands and there is no point in going crazy thinking about it.

Anonymous said...

Really, good luck. Best wishes to you.

Xenophon said...

Hey, good for you. I think positive thoughts can only help. If you do get an offer, you want to be excited about it. Anyway, once you make it to the on-campus stage, most people will want to like you as a candidate, so the pressure starts to ease up at this point.

Anonymous said...

To echo 10:30,

We are also running a search here, and while it was very easy to identify the 10 on the short list, it was very difficult to narrow that down to the 3 for on-campus interviews. The hardest part yet will be hiring only one of those 3, because they are all fantastic.

It means, of course, rejecting 2 people who hit home runs. But that's the nature of this game.

zombie said...

Zero, dude, way to go.

Don't beat yourself up over the one that got away. Chances are good it slipped away from you through no fault of your own, for reasons you'll never be privy to. The same can go for fly-outs. I had a fly-out last year that I felt really, really good about. I liked the department. I think I got on well with the faculty. I was a good fit for the job (as advertised). They ended up hiring someone with a completely different (unadvertised) AOS. Aside from the disappointment of not getting the job, I also don't know why, so I was not really able to learn anything from the experience (except maybe don't get your hopes up).

Go slay 'em on your fly-out. I have one next week, but I procrastinate on being nervous until the last minute. I recommend this strategy. Also, praying to pagan idols can't hurt.

Mr. Zero said...

Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone. I appreciate them very much.

keep in mind that it is possible that you did actually hit a home run, but so did three (or more) other people.

I know what you're getting at, but that thought actually worries me just as much as the thought that I did not do well. Because, no matter how well I do, all that needs to happen is someone else be a little better in a small and possibly arbitrary way. If I did something wrong, I have something to work on. The prospect of waiting around until I get lucky is much more difficult to cope with than the prospect of having to do specific things to get better.

I'm not trying to be a sourpuss, but I can't help it.

How many publications do you have?

I hope you can understand why I don't want to say the specific figure, but I can say that I feel proud of what I've been able to accomplish while coping with a heavy teaching load.

Anonymous said...

Zero said:

"I hope you can understand why I don't want to say the specific figure..."

I didn't ask the question, but it's by no means obvious why you don't want to say. Why exactly don't you?

Mr. Zero said...'s by no means obvious why you don't want to say. Why exactly don't you?

It's more of an identifying detail than I am comfortable revealing.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's zero. His name is Mr. Zero, so that would be an identifying characteristic, but nothing to be proud of ( unless you want to be a community college instructor).

Anonymous said...

It's more of an identifying detail than I am comfortable revealing.

Ah, so you're the one with 24 pubs.

Anonymous said...

There's only one and it's Mr. Zero. He's the one who has been getting them all lately. The secret is to become an anonymous moderator on the Smoker!

Anonymous said...

Good luck Mr.Zero! I'm happy to see so much support for you here. It's great when this blog is positive and supportive

m.a. program faculty member said...

Don't forget that, most of the time, committees go into the 1st-round interviews with some sort of rough ranking of the candidates already. Sometimes it's explicit, other times a vague sense of who they consider to be the top few on the list of interviewees.

That list can be shaken up by the results of the 1st-round interviews, obviously, but if the committee is smart, they won't overweigh minute differences in the initial interview vs. all of the information they had going into the interview--publication record, writing sample, teaching portfolio, etc.

So it's quite possible that Mr. Zero did, as a matter of fact, have an awesome interview, but that the people above him also did well enough so as not to move him over them and onto the flyout list.

Bobcat said...

How did you feel about your interview with the school you haven't heard from?

Xenophon said...

no matter how well I do, all that needs to happen is someone else be a little better in a small and possibly arbitrary way.

It's not a meritocracy. "Better" is not the issue. SCs might use those terms (or maybe "better for us"), but what they really are looking at is preference: who they'd rather have as a colleague. I think that's important, because the winner of an offer isn't the better candidate by any predetermined criterion, he's the winner because he's the consensus choice.

This isn't a criticism of the winner. Every reasonable candidate is measurably the best by some set of criteria, and thus deserves a job, but it's almost never the case that that precise set of criteria were selected ahead of time as determining the decision procedure for choosing a finalist.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to have a good number of interviews in Boston. Of those places I interviewed with at the APA, I have now heard from less than half. One turned to an on campus. At another I didn't progress past the first interview. I'm in something of a holding pattern with the third (though not a very hopeful looking one). I found out about one more from the wiki. But the others have yet to give me any update. Is it still reasonable to hope for a fly out from one of the remaining places? It seems to me that after the interviews, committees should be able to pretty immediately make their fly out decisions. And it seems just courteous to let people know where they stand. Is it likely that the remaining schools have already made their fly out decisions and are just holding the rest of us in the wings in case all their job talks go belly-up?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:14. This is the end of the first week of the semester for my school and I am sure others. When we hired, we didn't meet until the Friday afternoon of the first week of classes to make our short list down to three. From there, it had to clear the dean's desk. I think we made arrangements starting the the middle of the following week.

It's getting late, but not so late that you are done for.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree that the comments here have been entirely supportive and positive. I agree with the posters above that Zero's reason for not telling us how many publications he has is severely wanting. There's no way we could discover his real identity by disclosing this information. Failure to disclose is either a sign of delusional paranoia or poor reasoning.

Anonymous said...

"Failure to disclose is either a sign of delusional paranoia or poor reasoning."

This quote itself is a pretty good example of the latter.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:23

If I said I had 3, 38 or any other number of publications, would that allow you to single me out as Mr. Zero? No. If you think that it would, then you need to get your head checked.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi Bobcat,

It's hard to say. Felt really good about some questions, but just okay about some others.

Hi Anon 1:19/3:57,

I obviously don't think that everyone will go, oh, Mr. Zero's the one with x pubs.

Here's what happened. Somebody asked me to reveal some personal information, and I said that I'm not comfortable revealing the personal information. Then you had the gall to complain, anonymously, that you don't think my reason is good enough, as if I must reveal the information unless have a good reason to decline.

I don't think that's true. My policy is, withhold information unless I have a good reason to reveal it.

Anonymous said...

It's a good policy zero. Don't let it bother you one bit and really, don't reply to it either -- let it go.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that Mr. Zero is worried that a search committee member or someone privy to a search will be able to identify him based on the number of pubs he has. Given the information he has already disclosed, it would not be too difficult to "out" him. There are not too many searches going on. I could contact some people I know at about a dozen institutions that have searches in progress and easily figure out who he is. It's not really worth my time though. Good luck, Mr. Zero. We'll miss you as a moderator once you score a job!

zombie said...

I can't think of any reason Mr Zero is obliged to reveal the number of his pubs here. I'm not sure why anyone here would care either. It's not just the number that matters. It's also the quality of the papers, and of the journals they're published in.

And for most jobs, the pubs are just one part of the picture. Teaching experience, research plans, and references matter too.

So, I just don't get what all the fuss is about.

Anonymous said...

I think zero's reasons for keeping his pubs # private are legitimate. Speaking as an SC member, if he said a distinctive number (8 perhaps) that matched one of our finalists it would at least put the thought in my head that it might be zero. Then a really nosy SC member might be tempted to look for supporting evidence elsewhere on the blog.

That being said, nothing zero says on the blog is so negative that it would make me think less of him as a candidate. Still, you never know how someone else might react.

In truth, the really paranoid thing to do wouldn't be to keep the number of publications secret.... it would have been to lie about it. That would have been paranoid... and easy... and something I would have been tempted to do in his situation

Anonymous said...

Having sat on multiple search committees, and participated in other searches, I can't stress enough how right Xenophon is. This is not a meritocracy, though merit does play a large role.

Also, anyone who complains about Mr. Zero not revealing his publication number is an arrogant asshole, or mentally disordered.

Mr. Zero said...

Good luck, Mr. Zero. We'll miss you as a moderator once you score a job!

Thanks. But I plan to stick around whether I get a job or not. I like it here. And although we devote lots of electrons to the job market, we're not just a job market blog. If and when I'm a new TT assistant prof, my focus will shift to those experiences.

Hi Zombie,

Would you mind sending me an email at, please? Thanks. (Feel free to do so pseudonymously.)

Anonymous said...

If I were you I'd stress the if rather than the when. It is also possible that someone has already figured out your identity. That information, once disseminated, might stop you from getting a job. No search committee wants a potential troublemaker in their department, and while you might not be a troublemaker, the fact that you blog about the job market puts you under suspicion. If I were you, I'd quit the blog and focus on writing publishable papers, not blog posts. The blog is called the Philosophy Smoker, so it is predominantly about the job market. People don't come here to banter about philosophical issues. Even Leiter's blog is a better place for that.

Uncivil Discourser said...

Wow, Anon 11:16 is a super ass. I certainly wouldn't want Anon 11:16 in my department -- and if there were a department of like-minded people like him or her, who wouldn't want a Zombie or Mr. Zero (I'm fairly certain he or she doesn't know who he or she is meaning to talk to) in his or her department, so much the better for the Z-person intended.

Please keep it up, Zero (and Zombie), regardless of what happens.

Asstro said...

Gosh. I totally disagree. I would think that a hiring department would be thankful to have someone as plugged in, courteous, and ostensibly productive as Zero. No telling about his academic record since I haven't seen his CV, but my anecdotal experience seems to suggest that those who are frequently online and paying attention are also doing a fair bit of offline work. Moreover, if Zero has cleared the publication and expectation hurdle to make to the fly-out phase, this plainly suggests that even if somehow the blogging is cutting into his productivity, it's not cutting into his productivity enough to keep him from getting an interview or two.

I agree with Uncivil Discourser, 11:16 is being an ass.

Anonymous said...

That's right, Anon 11:16's "super ass" shines on multiple levels. Insult wrapped up as a "wise advice" was a nice move.

Anonymous said...

anon 8:48 here again.

what is in the water these days? so many nasty comments!

anon 11:16 - if your identity and zero's were revealed, i can guarantee that you'd be the one we'd reject, since we prefer not to have raging assholes in our department.

Anonymous said...

What's interesting is that 11:16's post is directed to Zombie, yet everyone's assuming it was supposed to be directed at Zero. To give 11:16 a charitable hearing (which no one else here has tried), I think we would all benefit from the advice: Spend less time blogging, more time doing research and writing. If Zombie and Zero are still moderating this blog in 5 years, I'd suspect that they failed to take 11:16's advice and were either still job-less or were floundering assistant professors with little hope of earning tenure.

Anonymous said...

8:22, Zombie isn't one of the bloggers here, just a commenter.

I'm with the majority on this: although from what I've read, I would count Mr. Zero's blogging as a positive and not problematic, I don't at all blame him for wanting to be anonymous.

Anonymous said...


Zero wrote: "If and when I'm a new TT assistant prof"

and then right after that, 11:16 wrote: "I'd stress the if rather than the when"

Despite the misdirected salutation, its pretty the post was about Mr Zero, not zombie.

Mr. Zero said...

Hi Anon 8:22,

As others have pointed out, the reason everyone thinks 11:16 meant to be talking to me rather than Zombie is that Zombie hasn't said anything that it makes sense to regard 11:16's comments as a response to.

The reason nobody has been "charitable" with 11:16 is that his comment makes no sense. He thinks that the mere fact that I blog about my experiences on the job market is evidence that I am some kind of "troublemaker." That's pretty dumb.

As to the suggestion that this blog interferes with my scholarship, I would ask if you really think that maintaining this blog takes up so much of my time that it is incompatible with producing high-quality philosophy papers. I spend far less time blogging than many of my friends spend playing Guitar Hero, or raising their children. My actual job, with its heavy courseload, takes up much more of my time. And as I have tried to indicate, my scholarship is going well, and I'm doing pretty ok on the job market this year.

I remember how much the old Job Market Blog helped me my first year on the job market. It was amazingly valuable. Now that I'm a job market veteran, I'm in a position to keep the ball rolling. And I continue to get good advice from our commenters.

If I'm still here in 5 years, that would be a sign that I still find this blog enjoyable and rewarding.

Anyways, I don't see why we're talking about this. It's pretty silly.

Anonymous said...

When I am stressed about something I still find myself saying, "Get the job! Get the job!" This is almost two years after I got the offer. So yes, it does stress you out.

Anonymous said...

If being collegial is that important, maybe the thing to do is to spend the time until interview watching comedy shows and hanging out with friends, in order to hone your social skills...

Sounds like a good excuse to me...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,
You say you messed up on certain interview questions in the past. Can you be more specific? What kinds of questions did you mess up on? It would be helpful to people like me, those who have not yet embarked on the interview process, to know more about what to expect. Thanks! Congrats on your sucess so far, and good luck!