Greetings from the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, one week after the annual hiring combine. It is a lonely, even eerie place. The echoes of recent interviews reverberate still. The city sleeps and I'm the only one and I walk alone. MoneyLaw is pleased to offer a short musical interlude to break the silence in this cavernous hotel.
As appointments committees report their findings and candidates fretfully wait by the phone, it's worth turning the tables. I offer some observations by entry-level candidates who have been kind enough to share their thoughts with me. What follows is a composite list of observations; names and other details have been altered in order to protect both the innocent and the guilty:
- Generally speaking, scout teams should leave the dean at home. Whenever deans did attend, they almost always asked the worst questions.
- There is no difference between five and fifteen people in the room.
- The best questions may come from people completely outside of your field.
- There is nearly always a tax person on the scout team. There is high variance among tax people. From the candidate's perspective, the trick is to see how well the tax person interacts with everyone else. The tax teacher is the canary in the birdcage; he or she is an indicator of interpersonal relations on the faculty.
- Jokes can really bomb, but when they go over well, they can fundamentally transforms the dynamics of an interview. Consider them a high-risk/high-reward tactic.
- Learn to read the body language of the people in the room. In some cases, body language can reveal which professors belong to which factions on the faculty.
- Don't take it personally. Not every date works out.
- Thirty minutes is either too long or too short. Some schools' scout teams may want to bail after ten minutes with a candidate. In many cases, the feeling is mutual.