campus interviews part 4: their demeanor

A word to the wise: be extremely cautious when assessing the demeanor of the faculty interviewing you on campus. For we, too, have our own patterns of desperation, our own forms of solace. I shall tell you a hard truth about many searches: we, the searching faculty, will try to make it with each and every one of you. We will romance you fast and hard: we’ll show you a good time, buy you some nice dinners, ply you with heady compliments, and try our best to make you feel powerful and fascinating. We want you to feel like we’re a perfect match. Before long, we’ll be suggesting neighborhoods and school districts, and encourage you to begin planning our blissful future together forever. If we’re very good, we’ll sometimes even seduce you into believing that you’re the only one for us — that we’re longing for you, that we want you so bad.

Yes, we want you to feel like a brilliant, shining star: special, chosen, loved. Just like we want the other two candidates who visit campus to feel the exact same way. In fact, we’re courting you all with the very same displays of admiration and desire… but we’re only going to commit to one of you. As for the others? we’ll drop them flat.

Do you know why we do this? Because when we make a final decision about who gets the call the month after, we want you to squeal with delight and cry: oh, yes! yes! yes! If you have other suitors, we want to make sure you choose us — if and when we are ready to choose you. And if, for some reason, our first offer turns us down, we want the next person to say yes, and to feel just as special and loved. We manipulate your need and your vulnerability to our own advantage. But, you already knew we were cruel.

Be cautiously optimistic, but remember, also, that you might just be a notch on the headboard.

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