Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting Around

This waiting around for the phone to ring really sucks.

On the one hand, it's pretty awesome to actually be up for a job. There is some chance that I will receive a job offer this year. And the offer will be for a job I really want, in a place I really want to live, with people I like. And I've never been in this position before.

But on the other hand, I am completely distracted. I can't think clearly about anything else for more than ten seconds. And it's agonizing. Agonizing.

And it's basically all I think about. There are two main things I think about: my performance and my chances. When I think about my performance, I feel good. I think I did a good job. I think they liked me; they were impressed with me on paper and I don't think I did anything to convince them that this was a mistake. When I think about my chances, though, I worry. Even if I knocked 'em dead, there are two other people out there with visits to this same campus, and there is no way that they're a lot worse than me. They could be worse, but they could be better, and if they're worse they're not substantially worse. So even if you allow that I helped myself a lot during the campus interview, the probability of my getting an offer can't be much more than .4. At least, that's the highest number I let myself contemplate. And that's not a very high number.

So I vascilate between being optimistic and being discouraged. It would be nice to know either way. I'm not really excited about the prospect of finding out I didn't get it--which I think is the most likely outcome--but at least then I could eventually think about something else for a change.

--Mr. Zero


Anonymous said...

You didn't get it! I did. Suck it up, Smoker!!

Anonymous said...

Good luck Zero. I'd say if you did very well on the campus interview, you're a 50-50. I've seen a number of searches through, and one of the three candidates, at least, ends up turning a number of people off, either for lack of fit, or because of personal qualities.

Hank said...

I can't offer any words of advice to avoid the suckiness of waiting. It just plain sucks. But for what it is worth, I'm pulling for you!

Anonymous said...

I was experiencing the same kind of anxiety that you describe during the early portions of this job market nonsense - waiting to hear about potential APA interviews or phone interviews in January. Now I've had a few interviews, and I'm feeling good about some, less good about others. But I've adopted a new attitude - intentionally - and I'm amazed to say that it seems to have worked.

The attitude is this: every time I find myself wondering, "did I answer that question as well as I could have?", "did I come on too strong making that joke during the interview?" etc etc, I instead ask myself, "Why worry?"

That is to say, there is nothing I can do about it now. I had the interviews, I'm up for a couple of jobs, and there's nothing I can do at this point to sway their decisions one way or the other. Worrying does me absolutely no good. I will hear back from them, and I will either get the job or I will not. But I am done wasting time and energy worrying.

Stay strong!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know that your probability of getting an offer is at highest .4, actually. If you are a better candidate than the others, your probability is pretty close to 1. If you didn't, it is a lower number, but figuring it out would depend on a lot of other probabilities (e.g. that the top candidate has other, better offers) that you just don't know. Maybe someone who knows more about probability will correct me on this, though.

Anonymous said...

Zero: hang in there. But while you do, you shouldn't think about the chances in that way. You have a good shot at the job even if you aren't the first person to receive the job offer: if your third of the 3, or second, the first person(s) offered the job may eventually pass and it goes to you. Or, best case, you end up being the first one to get the offer. So don't stress.

Anonymous said...

Being on the other side of things, my experience has been that most candidates (there are some exceptions of course) perform extremely well during their on campus interviews. I strongly suspect that our decision-making process and the criteria we ended up using for selection would have surprised and perhaps even bewildered the candidates, had they been privy to such things.

I would love to spin this into the suggestion that candidates try not to second-guess hiring departments' reasoning. But this is useless advice, much like telling someone to stop worrying about what they can't control. That's pretty much all I worry about.

Anonymous said...


Didn't any of the faculty you interviewed with give you some kind of inside word about your chances. Sometimes this happens; like in cases when one of them are pulling for you.

zombie said...

During my campus visit, I was told by a couple of people (including the dean) that my chances were extremely good. But it's an unusual, multidisciplinary hiring situation, which complicates the picture. Still, I have been thinking about it a lot, and while I'm thrilled to be a serious contender for a job, my worries have been more along the lines of moving my family, leaving my house, my community, my friends, etc. (And the constant background worry of unemployment.) Obviously, premature to think about, but it weighs on me. Meanwhile, I have a fast-approaching deadline to get some revisions done on an accepted paper, and I'm feeling the pressure, and the distraction.

So, I could tell you to stop worrying in advance about things you can't control, but I'd be lying if I said I was successfully doing that myself. My greatest accomplishment is that I haven't let the pressure turn me into a raging ass to the people around me.

It's impossible to calculate your odds, BTW. There are too many unknown variables.

Good luck, Zero.

Anonymous said...

I'll second 9:05's advice. We worry most about the things we cannot control

Good luck zombie and zero!

Been There said...

A member of the search committee that selected me let me know that I was their first choice before I left the building. I don't know how typical this is (I was the last person they interviewed, out of four).

Two others mentioned something like this above.

That's not, of course, to say all committees will do this, just seemed worth saying in light of the other comments.

Anonymous said...

On my campus interview I was told by a senior and reasonably powerful member of my current department that I would get the job. I got the offer the next day, literally right after I got home from the airport.

The guy who told me I would be hired was/is powerful enough that I could probably assume it was true. But if one faculty member just tells you that you are their first choice, that is far from a guarantee. My guess is that the latter is more common than the former.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is on a search committee who just brought their second candidate to campus. I asked him how it went. He writes to me today (I've redacted names):

"Our candidate went well, but both Professor X and I felt he was a bit reserved and strangely uncurious about the position and about Awesome State University itself, which struck us both as very odd in a person who supposedly wants a job. I think we prefer the first candidate."

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that most candidates do well at their campus interview. I have seen a number of times people who were ranked first on the short list come to campus only to crash and burn. So the fact that you did not do that is a good sign. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I'm screaming expletives at my screen right now.
Tell your friend that making vague surmises about a candidate's interest in the position has nothing to do with candidate quality, and if they are so worried about, they should just ask the candidate straight out.
There's too much irrationality in this process already, thanks to this kind of bullshit. Does a candidate not deserve a job if he forgets to ask what the school colors are?
Oh, and tell your friend she's an asshole, and so is Professor X.

Anonymous said...

Easy there, 3:47. I can assure that my friend is not an asshole.

I do of course understand why you are upset about learning something like that. It makes me upset too. (Note: I have not pursued this conversation with my friend any further and do not intend to.)

There is a lesson of course in this. At the on-campus interview stage, it's fair to assume that the 3 or 4 candidates being brought to campus are roughly equal in quality. So, that being the case, you want to shine in other ways - like in ways that show that you will be a good colleague, not just a good philosopher. That's one thing we tend to forget - especially those of us at Leiteriffic places. Departments hire colleagues, not just philosophers. One way to *not* shine in this area is to seem uninterested in the position.


BunnyHugger said...

At one of my campus interviews, the last person I talked to, who drove me back to the hotel after the last official activities, kept saying, "When you get here..." and similarly-phrased things. I know you aren't supposed to take that sort of remark seriously, but it felt so encouraging that I could not help getting excited. Then when he left me at the hotel he said, "See you in the fall... maybe." I said, "I hope so!" He said, "I hope so too."

I thought, someone is on my side. But whether I read that correctly or not, I did not get the job, which was one of the biggest disappointments I've ever had. The moral of this story is... actually, I don't think there is a moral to this story. It's not as though the moral can be "Don't get your hopes up too much" because your hopes tend to do what they will regardless of your attempts to beat them down with caution.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

It's impossible to take your mind off it, so change the way you dwell on it. Read some Stoics--Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca or something.

Don't try to assess your chances, instead master getting the worst phone call, and getting use to it. Maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised, but don't think about that. The waiting's going to be miserable either way, so spend this time making it less miserable later, if it doesn't go as you'd like.

Lloyd Dobler said...

Waiting does suck, even when you're pretty confident about your chances. For my present job, I knew I was the last scheduled on campus interview, and I had very positive indications while I was still on campus that things were going very, very well. My wait wasn't terribly long, but it was uncomfortable.

But I used to suffer insomnia and had learned that the best thing to do for insomnia is the same thing that worked well for me with the job waiting: work. And the more physically demanding the better, though as long as I could retain my focus, I found it rewarding to get some writing done for a conference paper.

Anyway... good luck to all of you in limbo!