An anonymous Smoker sent the following story detailing an on-campus interview at a community college somewhere in the American West, which was too long to go as a comment in Zombie's recent CC-related post. Here it is:
I interviewed for a TT CC job on the West Coast in the spring of 2009. I was invited for and had a campus interview (at my own expense), and was one of three finalists, including the incumbent, drawn from a pool of roughly 110 applicants.
The school was heavily unionized, and the entire process was onerous, impersonal, and bureaucratic.
I found it strange, for instance, that from start to finish, all of my correspondence with the CC was with the school's HR department, not with either of the two TT philosophers at the school, or any other faculty.
At any rate, ten days before my campus visit, the HR department informed me by email that my visit would have three parts:
1. A writing exercise;
2. A teaching demonstration;
3. An interview with five people, all of whom were either faculty or administrators.
I was also told that if the president of the college had time, he would meet with me after my interview.
The topic of my teaching demonstration was emailed to me ten days before the interview; it asked me to construct a truth table illustrating DeMorgan's Law.
When the big day finally came, I arrived on campus with only instructions to report to HR at 9:15 am. No one from the CC met me at the airport, or arranged accommodation, or made any effort to ensure my comfort. I didn't even get a campus tour.
At any rate, the HR woman took me into a small office, asked me to leave my materials outside the door, gave me a sheet containing a question to which I was asked to write an answer, and instructed me either to type my answer on a computer, or write it on a legal pad. I chose to use the computer, and was given approximately 20 minutes to compose my answer.
The question asked me to compare and contrast Utilitarianism and Kantianism on the morality of lying.
I finished my answer just as time expired, and was then given fifteen minutes to study a list of three other questions which were to form the basis of my interview with the five people noted above. One of the questions dealt with Hume and induction, another with Plato's Theory of Forms, and a third with pedagogy and the relevance of philosophy to CC students.
When the fifteen minutes expired, the HR lady took me to a large conference room in another part of the building, in which were seated the five representatives (including two philosophers and one English professor) from the school. I should note that this was the first contact I'd had with any of the faculty, including the philosophers. (I suspect, however, that before I arrived in the conference room, the two philosophers had read my answer to the Utilitarianism/Kantianism question.)
I was asked to give my teaching demonstration first, and did so without much fuss.
Next came the interview, which consisted solely of having the interview questions noted above recited verbatim by three of the five interviewers.
I answered the questions in detail and fielded all of their follow-up questions; then the interview ended, and the HR lady led me outside the room while the five interviewers conferred with each other.
Ten minutes later, the HR lady went back into the conference room, and emerged shortly thereafter with word that the CC president would like to meet with me.
It was at this point that I realized that the earlier line about the president meeting with me if he had time was just a ruse; the meeting with him was contingent on my having had a successful interview.
The HR lady escorted me across campus to the president's office, where I met with him and the dean. The interview went well, and I remember being asked, What is the one thing you would change about community colleges?
I gave an answer that I thought they'd like to hear: I said that I'd make it the case that every applicant to a CC be accepted, since CCs' goal (or at least this CC) was to serve taxpayers of the state.
I completed the interview with these two and left feeling like I'd aced not only it, but also the interview with the committee, the teaching demonstration, and the writing test. I was on cloud nine!
Two days later, my hopes rose further when I received calls from two of my references, informing me that they had been contacted by the philosophers on the CC's hiring committee and told that I was an extremely strong candidate. According to my referees, I was one of three shortlisted candidates, and a decision was imminent.
Then, ten days passed with no word from anyone at the CC. I found the wait awkward, especially because I had never been formally given the email addresses or phone numbers of the two philosophers on the hiring committee; I had no one to answer my questions.
Finally, on approximately the twelfth day after my campus visit, I found in my spam mail folder an email from a different HR person than the one who had shepherded me through my visit. It was a rejection letter -- a PFO.
I was devastated.
I should add that I was at that time in my fourth year as a VAP at a SLAC in the Midwest and had previously published a paper in a peer-reviewed (and highly regarded) journal. I had also held an 18-month VAP at a different SLAC prior to the Midwest gig, and held a Ph.D. from a Leiter-ranked school.
In all, I found the whole CC application and interview process dehumanizing, rule-bound, and off-putting.
That said, I would have loved to have got the job, as it was within twenty miles of one of the largest cities on the West Coast, held the promise of good weather, excellent pay and benefits, and a manageable teaching load.
I hope my account of this experience will help some of my fellow smokers.