It started with about one hundred applications from all over the country, even a few mailed in from other countries.
We on the committee read through the CVs and multi-page cover letters, winnowing down the pool of applicants to thirteen.
With those thirteen quarter finalists, we conducted telephone interviews.
From those thirteen, five semi-finalists were chosen, contacted, and asked to come to campus for face-to-face interviews.
Over the last few weeks, those five semi-finalists have had their days on campus–put through the paces of a schedule stacked with tour, formal interview, academic council luncheon, open forum with members of campus community, and meeting with the president.
As someone on the formal interview committee, I enjoyed, as ever, the opportunity to witness the structure and whimsy of a search process and to do some fierce people watching.
Over the course of five days, the semi-finalists came to campus; at the appointed hour, each one came into the huge conference room, a place anchored by a twenty-foot wooden table surrounded by high-backed chairs, and took a moment to register the fact that there were ten people on the interview committee. Smiling determinedly and throwing back his/her shoulders into a posture of “I can do this,” each candidate then took a seat and a sip of water and braced for the first question.
Every candidate, that is, except the last one.
On the fifth and final day, the candidate came into the room and, when she was informed we would be going around and introducing ourselves to her, she said, “Great. If I may, I’d like to come around and shake hands as part of the introductions. That just feels better to me.”
But of course. Shake away.
Moving from person to person, looking each committee member in the eye and taking note of job titles, the candidate worked her way down the long table, cresting the vice president’s corner and heading into the final stretch.
I was next.
Extending my hand, I said, “Hi, Candidate, I’m Jocelyn Surname. I’m an English instructor here on campus.”
Grasping my paw, the candidate replied, “Nice to meet you, Jocelyn. I read your blog.”
By the time she finished working the rest of the table, I’d managed to pull my jaw off the conference table and explain to several of my highly-curious fellow committee members that, yes, I do have a blog, but it’s not something I publicize at work.
Then I tried to recall for a minute if I’ve ever written a post about my vagina.
Because if I had, that would color my tone when asking the interview questions.
Life rule: if someone has had a glimpse into your vagina, even through prose, you can ease up on the professionalism a notch and relax into a voice that acknowledges, “Hey, wassup? We all know my vagina, right? So how might that knowledge affect your budgetary choices if you were to get this job? Would you be willing to add in a line item for vaginal maintenance? Please explain and give specific examples of your work in this area in the past.”
Fortunately, my quick mental flipping through the Rolodex of posts past didn’t yield any with the tag “vagina.” Dickwad, however? Yes, and plenty of ’em.
Life rule: if someone knows you like to use the word dickwad in your writing, you are still obliged to maintain a veneer of professionalism, and you may not ask the candidate if she has ever adjusted her budget to accommodate dickwads.
That’s just asking for confessions of poor relationship choices, and there’s no Kleenex box in the conference room.
It was for the best, then, that my vagina-free blog allowed me to sit up straight, uncap my pen, and prepare to take notes
on everything else she knew.