That’s a Dealbreaker, Ladies! (+ some housekeeping)*

Thank you to everyone who contributed a campus-visit horror story to my research for this Vitae piece, on “dealbreakers.” Perhaps something asinine that a search committee did to YOU was featured! If not, fear not, I may always dip back into my repository of woe for another article.

Meanwhile, I want everyone to know (who’s interested) that I am doing OK. I took a sick day from work today (in case any students are reading this–you have an online activity due tonight, and it BETTER BE GOOD! I’M WATCHING!), because, mercifully, Nature has begun to take its course, and this nine-legged, five-headed false start (hey, if I’m going to lose an embryo when it’s the size of a poppyseed, I can imagine that it would have had nine legs and five heads! It’s my prerogative. It’s the way that I want to live) is finally beginning its long-awaited exodus, which will be followed by my re-entrodus to my long-lost BFF WeightWatchers(TM). I’ve got a big conference at Penn State in three weeks, and my goal is to be able to squeeze back into one of my good dresses with the help of some Spanx. I’ve got another big event in New York in early April, and my goal then is to slip back into my slimmest, chicest pencil skirts with the greatest of ease.

But for today: Giant guacamole burrito. Cupcake. Hot cocoa. TV (my husband and I started True Detective last night and it will take all I have not to binge-watch the next three episodes while he’s gone). Whatever I damn well want. 

And, of course, doing whatever work I can from home, which means checking my brilliant students’ online Faust activities, so DO THEM, yes? Love you.



*not ACTUAL housekeeping; this place is a frat-house shit-show as usual; sorry, dear. All you can hope is that Dewey Crowe makes it through Season 5 alive, and I lose the bet, and have to scrub this place top to bottom.

6 thoughts on “That’s a Dealbreaker, Ladies! (+ some housekeeping)*

  1. Job talk article at Vitae is awesome. Something you might have mentioned: oftentimes departments will simply hire NOBODY, purely because all three candidates ordered the “wrong” thing at dinner, or gesticulated too much or too little, or because of a certain “je nai se qua” or whatever. Yes, they’ll actually role the search over into the next year for reasons as purely superficial as this! I think you’re quite right recognize pathologies like collective neurosis and panic at play.


  2. Okay, I know it’s best to try to stay away from the comments, but the two Vitae comments on this (FANTASTIC) piece so far are hilarious. A commenter (who starts with the auspicious opening sentence of “I would like to speak up in defense of search committees.” Brace yourselves, kiddies.) writes that she has “never been on a committee where any of the criteria mentioned…were used to disqualify a candidate, and have never heard of one where this was true” (presumably she’s referring to things like “dressed too formally”, “skipped the wine at dinner”, “got a feeling that she’d leave for a better department”…). LITERALLY THREE SENTENCES LATER she points out that “more subtle things like ‘fit’…poise, and ‘feelings’ about the candidate’s enthusiasm for the position come into play.”

    Where does she think committees get those “feelings” and impressions of “poise” and “fit”?!? Does she think that we imagine a committee member sitting down at a meeting and literally stating “I don’t want to hire her because she didn’t order wine”? Please, none of us are that naive; we all know what actually happens. The committee member registers the fancy clothes, the liquor order, the meticulously prepared talk, and then at the next meeting comes out with “she seemed kind of nervous and on edge; I just feel like she won’t able to handle the pressures of the job” (let’s leave aside that, as you also point out in your article, “being a professor”, even pre-tenure, is NEVER as high-pressure as “trying to get a job as a professor”. The state that candidates are in during the campus interview is almost certainly the most nervous/terrified they will ever be in a professional setting…)

    Candidates do not actually lose out on a position because of Tiny Faux Pas X; they lose out when committee members interpret the shit out of X because they imagine that they’re Sherlock fucking Holmes diagnosing the crucial secret qualities of their potential future colleagues through what they imagine are brilliantly deep interpretations of little “tells”. “Hmmmm, he didn’t ask about quality of life in the area quite as much as the other candidates. OBVIOUSLY this means he doesn’t really want the job and would just leave in a few years!”

    Seriously, this absurd tea-leaf-reading of job applicants is what needs to stop. It’s not a crime for a search committee to notice that an applicant seems rather nervous or is dressed “too formally” for the department culture – of course humans will notice things about other humans. It’s only a crime when the committee deludes themselves into thinking that these things have any actual meaning at all beyond “yep, campus interviews suck”.

    Wow, sorry, this got stupidly long for a comment! Approved or not, I hope this at least confirms for you that many of us are reading every single one of your articles while shouting “PREACH IT SISTER” on repeat (in our heads. not out loud. definitely not ever out loud. ahem.) Glad to hear you’re doing well, and I hope you enjoyed the heck out of your burrito+cupcake+cocoa+TV+husband evening!!


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