Tuesday, December 1, 2009

APA Interview Dont's

It was suggested to me that I might try to open a thread on how one might do well on an APA interview. I then got to thinking that it might be fun to try to open a thread on how not to do well on an APA interview. Here are a few things I've witnessed candidates do on APA interviews which completely blew their chances, at least in my judgment. Feel free to share your own.

1. At end of interview, we ask the always fateful "So... do you have any questions for us?" After a moment of paralysis, the candidate asks, "What is your University's policy on intimate relations between faculty and graduate students?" Awkward silence ensues. Then the candidate clarifies by saying, "Mutually consentual, of course."

2. In response to a run of the mill question about how demanding upper-level undergraduate classes in candidate's AOS (not philosophy of film, mind you) should be, the candidate says something like, "I'm really serious in my [upper-level philosophy] courses. At the lower levels, I just show a lot of movies."

3. In describing how he/she might teach an applied ethics course (listed as an AOC on candidate's CV), the candidate proceeds to list several famous papers by famous authors, but mentions no utilitarians. When asked why, the candidate says, "There really isn't any good work being done by utilitatians these days." I mention Peter Singer. The candidate replies, "Oh... is he a utilitarian?"

4. Candidate describes dissertation defending a familiar thesis in area X. Colleague raises the most obvious, shopworn, textbook, soft-ball, and famous objection to thesis. Nonplussed, candidate replies, "I think we're talking past each other here." Trying to be charitable, my colleague then says, "Well, what would you say is the most popular objection to your thesis?" Candidate replies, "There are no popular objections to my thesis." (The candidate took this to be a knock-out-of-the-park reply!)

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait, (1) isn't true. Is it? Shit, is it? Can you give us clues as to who it is?

I think talking about "fat fucks" who eat too much meat while giving your teaching demonstration in a room with a couple of kids who clearly have body issues isn't a great idea. Also, aggressively asking a stupid kid in that class, "What the fuck are you talking about? What the fuck are you talking about!?!" when he asked a question isn't going to make it better.

729 said...

7. During your APA interview, avoid hitting on one of the members of the hiring committee.

Anonymous said...

(1) DON'T bring a camera crew.
(2) DON'T bring back-up singers.
(3) DON'T bring a snack for when things get boring.
(4) DON'T fart and then try to blame it on someone on the committee.

Anonymous said...

Was the candidate in scenario 1 making eyes at you during the interview? That would at least explain it.

Krinos said...

Howzabout this one?

After an interview with a religiously affiliated college with required faith-statements, the interviewee bumps into one of the committee members at the smoker. Some friendly banter, and then he asks: "Well... how seriously does the administration take the faith-statements... I mean, do you really have to believe all that?" DING!

Paul Gowder said...

Please tell me that someone asked #1 what unilateral consent might be.

Anonymous said...

Texting at any time during the interview does not go over well. We may just be sitting around a table chatting, but answering a text on your smartphone just pisses us off.

Phil Ossofee said...

Don't show up drunk.

Anonymous said...

Better: don't show up noticeably drunk. Some of us can pull it off.

Regarding 4: how does this happen? Is this a tragedy of advising as well as sloppy dissertating?

Glaucon said...

Fashion Don't: Generally, avoid wearing a colored, logo-emblazoned t-shirt under a white dress shirt. (Exception: a Superman t-shirt may work in your favor.)

Pronunciation Don't: It's best to avoid pronouncing 'Kant' to rhyme with "can't" but never pronounce it to rhyme with "cunt".

Conversational Don't: Don't employ conversational gambits such as "There's this one South Park episode where…" or "That's like this scene from The Sopranos…"

P.S. My word verification is "untard".

Anonymous said...

Hey, Anon 10:32PM, I'm pretty sure I know the person in the "fuck" case, and I'm pretty sure that person still got the offer.

Anonymous said...

Not exactly on topics, but worth a share - a few years back we had a candidate totally tank her job talk. We had put her up in a nice hotel, and discovered days after she left that the night before she went home (the evening after the afternoon on which she blew the talk) she billed all kinds of booze and pay-per-view to the room. Classy move.

Anonymous said...

My favorite from last year was the guy who, in response to our local phenomenologist's question about Heidegger and the environment, interspersed his answer with Hitler jokes and half a nazi salute. Priceless. I loved you... sorry it couldn't work. I cherish that memory.

Anonymous said...

In response to a faculty member's question about the place of God in philosophy, someone I know lost an otherwise wrapped-up position by giving the following answer worthy of being emblazoned on a T-shirt.

"God is lazy metaphysics"

Please indicate XL, L, M, or S.

Anonymous said...

"I'm pretty sure I know the person in the "fuck" case, and I'm pretty sure that person still got the offer."

That might be true, but if you know the person I'm thinking of (who, personally, I think is great and would have made a great colleague) you know as I do that next to no one but this person could possibly get away with that.

Anonymous said...

After learning that our school's primary function is undergraduate teaching (something a candidate should know entering the interview), I strongly advise against saying:

"Wow, so is it possible to teach at your school and not totally sell yourself out? I mean, I know someone who has a job like yours and he seems happy, but I don't know--are you really happy? I just don't see it."

Paul Gowder said...

But God is lazy metaphysics...

Anonymous said...

Yes, Thomas Aquinas, lazy metaphysician! He was well-known as a slacker.

Ockham, too.

CTS said...

How about these:

1) Do not wear clingy shirts, jeans, or short sleeved T-shirts.
2) Do not ask an SC from a SLAC about their engineering school.
3) Do not say, 'Yeah, I've heard of your college."
4) Do not, unless you really know where you are, ever use the F-word or other vulgarisms - especially when speaking to students.
5) Do not talk about how great you are and how you could 'blow out of the water' anyone who disagreed with you.

John S. Wilkins said...

I don't know how well this will go down in the US, but at a recent interview, when asked what my views on teaching undergrads was, I replied, "Well, corrupting the minds of the youth is the mission statement of philosophy!"

I got the job.

Anonymous said...

A few don'ts pulled off by my friend (who is not in philosophy) during his on-campus:

1. Each time he was outside (e.g., walking from building to building, to/from restaurant, to/from hotel, etc.) accompanied by faculty members with whom he was interviewing, he smoked. The faculty never joined him.

2. During a one-on-one interview with a female faculty member, he told an unbelievably vulgar joke about Southerners, incest, and anal sex.

He got the job. And it's a good school.

Michael Kremer said...

John Wilkins: congratulations.

Your story reminds me of the following quotation from Alasdair MacIntyre (in Key Philosophers in Conversation, A. Pyle, ed., 83):

"...at least one philosophy course, and, more adequately two, should be required of every undergraduate. Of course an education of this kind would require a major shift in our resources and priorities, and, if successful, it would produce in our students habits of mind which would unfit them for the contemporary world. But to unfit our students for the contemporary world ought in any case to be one of our educational aims."

Anonymous said...

I blew an interview for a scholarship once by making fun of the first question I was asked. The question was: Do you think the reason why Germans have had problems with living in a democracy right after the 3rd Reich is that Hegel's political philosophy does not focus on individual subjects as political agents? (Or something very close, I can't remember the exact formulation). My response was something along the lines of: Unless the people in the 50s read way more Hegel than anyone ever at any other time, I cannot imagine how that could possibly be the reason why Germans had trouble with democracy. And then I gave it a good laugh. Correct answer: "That is a very interesting question. Can you tell me more about the connection you have in mind there?"

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit puzzled about the remark concering how not to pronounce 'Kant', since in my experience Germans pronounce it very close to how English speakers pronounce "cunt" (and, in particular, much closer to that than to 'cant' or 'cahnt').

Anonymous said...

Funny thread. At least twice when I thought I blew the interview I got an offer. Once I walked out of the interview room thinking it went great and then looked down and noticed that not only was my fly unzipped but it was gaping as wide open as possible... No way it wasn't totally obvious to everyone! Perhaps they assumed I was just too smart adequately to manage such details, as they invited me to the campus, where I then got busted leaving a giant dump in the toilet of their little bathroom -- really nervous, I forgot to flush, which I didn't notice until the chair of the search committee passed me at the bathroom door... They made me the offer the next day...

nate said...

"clingy jeans"? how incredibly petty.

Anonymous said...

How about the questions we wish we had asked, like:
'Why has the interview thus far been conducted entirely by the 4 male members of the department, while the 2 female members have sat here in silence?'

Anonymous said...

"does your small college town offer the kind of amenities that an urban-dweller takes for granted? oh, i don't know: good delis, art house cinema, needle-exchange programs, methadone treatment, that sort of thing. and museums! how are you on museums?"

Anonymous said...

German is my native language, and I am certainly not going to mispronounce Kant's name as "cahnt", just because some weird member of an interview committee feels like pronouncing his name right is vulgar.

Christopher Hitchcock said...

I interviewed 17 years ago at the APA. Near the end of the conference, I ran into a graduate student representative on one of the committees. He told me (probably inappropriately) that I was one of the candidates that was still under consideration at his school. He then said that a couple of the candidates had 'flamed out'. I asked him what he meant by 'flamed out'. He said, that one candidate, for example, had responded to an objection by saying 'shut up and listen to me when I'm talking'.

Anonymous said...

'Why has the interview thus far been conducted entirely by the 4 male members of the department, while the 2 female members have sat here in silence?'

Same question, only with "clergy" and "non-clergy" substituted for male and female, that I wish I had asked at an interview a couple years back. Kind of glad I wasn't asked to join that department.

CTS said...

Nate:

No, not 'clingy jeans,' nor clingy Tshirts. No 1) clingy shirts, 2) jeans, 3) short sleeved Tees.

You many think this is 'petty,' but most of us expect someone to dress up a bit for a job interview. You know, like a professional rather than a student.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago, an interviewee referred to our college as "rinky-dink" in response to a question about her likely level of involvement in our Philosophy Club. What a fool.

Alastair Norcross said...

Getting drunk at a reception at your campus visit, and then comparing eating veal to cheating on your partner, on the grounds that "we know it's wrong, but we all do it", is probably a bad idea. It's a bad idea not so much because your possible future colleagues might disapprove of cheating, or of eating veal, but because they might approve of practical wisdom.

hilde said...

We had a candidate who interviewed with us and said she/he would come by at the smoker. Well, we saw her/him at the smoker--at the table next to us, hanging with grad school friends--but didn't find the energy to get up, walk around the table, and say hello. Just waved.

Anonymous said...

Somewhat disturbing are the comments concerning fashion. I can understand not looking like crap, or wearing something overtly offensive (keep the Inspiral Carpets 'Cool as Fuck' t-shirt in the closet for interviews), but beyond that, who cares?

A red t under a white shirt? Yeah--so what? David Chalmers looks like shit every time I see him. But he's talented as hell. Hawthorne looks like a homeless man. Same deal. Dare I say, don't let looks get in the way. Unless of course that's what your department is all about, in which case don't let philosophy get in the way.

Allen Hazen said...

About the pronunciation of a well-known German philosopher's surname... Some years back, my then university in Australia had a very good German graduate student. As I remember it, the students in one of his sections asked him to. please, mispronounce the name because they found the correct pronunciation distracting.

some weird member of an interview committee said...

It's /kant/, not /kʌnt/ (or /kænt/), /fʌkhɛd/.

Ryan Cobb said...

Regarding dress code, it seems perfectly obvious why one should dress up for an interview--the clothes you wear send a message about how you see yourself. If you are well-established in the field, I'd imagine the committee might not care. If you're still a relative nobody, dressing very casually can come across as a lack of respect for the committee, an inability to be professional, etc. It's about much more than being "fashionable," unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

on the serious side, i advise everyone not to ask about pay. i thought it wouldn't be an issue, but i'm pretty sure that i blew my chances at a pretty good school by asking such questions...

Anonymous said...

"We had a candidate who interviewed with us and said she/he would come by at the smoker. Well, we saw her/him at the smoker--at the table next to us, hanging with grad school friends--but didn't find the energy to get up, walk around the table, and say hello. Just waved."

Oh, man. That was probably me. I remember being so overwhelmed and anxious that it took all of my energy to stay in that room, sitting in one spot, instead of completely losing my lunch (if my stomach had been settled enough those few days of the APA to have any lunch or any meal whatsoever). Every time I stood up, I thought I was going to hurl. So I sat tight, hung out with people I felt comfortable with, plastered a big old grin on my face like I was having the time of my life, and tried to muster up the courage to talk to you. I saw you and waved because I wanted to be friendly. I wanted to come over. But I was nervous as hell and looking for a sign that you *wanted* me to come over. Sorry. I'm an idiot. I was intimidated. And I'm not very good at these things. But I swear I'm a good philosopher--hard working, genuinely curious, non-combative yet rigorous. I admit I'm slightly socially awkward (that's part of what I like about philosophy--such awkwardness doesn't *usually* matter). But I swear I love philosophy, and I really really wanted to be your colleague. I just fail at working the tables at the smoker. I wish such a failing didn't mean the difference between a job and not a job. But obviously it does. Sorry again.

CTS said...

Ryan Cobb: If you're still a relative nobody, dressing very casually can come across as a lack of respect for the committee, an inability to be professional, etc. It's about much more than being "fashionable," unfortunately.

Exactly. If you are as well-respected as David Chalmers, we probably will not care how how you dress. But as long as you are not, your appearance does matter.

You can be pissed about it, sure. But it is a fact of life. Think of it this way: after the exhausted SC has interviewed X number of folks and are trying to put faces to names, you do NOT want to be recalled as 'the person wearing that weird ... top-thing' anymore than you want to be remembered as 'that really arrogant one.'

Madeleine said...

I'm finding the argument about appropriate dress rather funny - I'm yet to enter a philosophy department where the majority do not dress funny, have weird hair dos and bizarre facial hair. Surely turning up to an interview dressed in normal job interview attire would be a disadvantage?

;-)

徐若瑄Vivian said...

That's actually really cool!亂倫,戀愛ING,免費視訊聊天,視訊聊天,成人短片,美女交友,美女遊戲,18禁,
三級片,後宮電影院,85cc,免費影片,線上遊戲,色情遊戲,日本a片,美女,成人圖片區,avdvd,色情遊戲,情色貼圖,女優,偷拍,情色視訊,愛情小說,85cc成人片,成人貼圖站,成人論壇,080聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室,免費a片,視訊美女,視訊做愛,免費視訊,伊莉討論區,sogo論壇,台灣論壇,plus論壇,維克斯論壇,情色論壇,性感影片,正妹,走光,色遊戲,情色自拍,kk俱樂部,好玩遊戲,免費遊戲,貼圖區,好玩遊戲區,中部人聊天室,情色視訊聊天室,聊天室ut,成人遊戲,免費成人影片,成人光碟,情色遊戲,情色a片,情色網,成人圖片區

Anonymous said...

If you think attire doesn't matter, you are a poor philosopher. You have swallowed Marxist dogma because it suits you, rather than thinking the matter through. Not to worry, though. You are safely with the majority.