The casual vacancy

We did make our hire, after seeing a total of four candidates for campus visits.  (I interviewed a few additional people on the phone and one on campus during spring break.)  We saw the spousal candidate, who wasn’t the fit we were looking for (after she had another offer, I broke this news to her on the phone, as warmly and gently as possible, because she will still be a part of the SA community and I want to be welcoming).

We saw a second candidate who was energetic and engaging, but about whom we had reservations: he was a bit erratic in his communication, somewhat haphazard in his sample class (some great moments, but also some slackness), and he showed some questionable judgment while he was here.  The thing that struck me the most was that he complained freely about a dean at his current job–and went on about it well past the point at which most people not on a job interview would have stopped.

The third candidate was a newly minted M.A.T. who gave a pretty dull sample class based on a lesson plan full of inscrutable acronyms (most of which Romola and Olivia explained to me).  She got an offer from another school about a week later, though, which let me gently release her.

We were still thinking and talking about the second candidate when candidate number four came in.  She taught a solid, engaging sample class with genuine warmth and humor, and connected well with everyone she met.  We made the offer pretty quickly, and sealed the deal this week.

I’ve just emailed candidate number two to let him know, as kindly as I could, that we have made our hire.  I do think he’s a pretty impressive guy, and I enjoyed our conversations, apart from the ranty bits.  With Ivanhoe‘s support–which we had–I would have been up for what felt like the slightly risky business of hiring him, knowing that this was a person who might not get all his grades in on time or who might disappear from email for a couple of days.  But I couldn’t pick him over number four.

I wasn’t happy to tell candidates one and two that we wouldn’t be hiring them, but I am satisfied with the way I handled both–and, indeed, with the communication with candidates in general.  I followed up with everyone with whom I had contact during the process, and let them know if we wouldn’t be moving forward with them.  I let the GGE do more of this (or not do it) last year because that’s the way it seemed to work, and I didn’t have any urge to challenge the process, but I recognize now that there might not have been follow-up with people who should have been followed up with.  This year, with more autonomy, I have stepped in and done what I thought needed to be done, usually without asking permission, but keeping people informed with cc’s and forwards.  Having the authority seems to give me the ability to disappoint people as kindly as possible.

Perhaps of interest to any job-seekers reading this: we had about 150 applications for this position–local, regional, national, and international–including many that were submitted to us by agencies, but also lots from NAIS and our own website posting.  I also got a couple by reaching out to two graduate programs in the area where I have contacts.  Of the four who came to campus for the full day experience, one (the young M.A.T.) was from one of the placement agencies; the spousal candidate came through the spouse, candidate number two applied via NAIS (which is not the prettiest format for an application, but it doesn’t really matter), and candidate number four responded to our website posting.  I tried to look closely at every application because one of my explicit goals was to have a diverse candidate pool, and we did: about half of the people I contacted, and two of the four campus visitors, were people of color, one of whom is the actual hire.  She is someone I overlooked on the first go-round, actually, in part because her resume highlighted her most recent jobs in residence life at local colleges rather than her teaching experience.  After candidate two, another pass through the still-expanding spreadsheet I’d been using to keep track of applications brought her name up again.  Orsino was reading over my shoulder, and actually it was his enthusiasm that made me reach out to her via email and then phone.  So thanks, Orsino, and welcome, as-yet-unpseudonymed colleague.  Glad it’s over for this year (we think), but even gladder that it feels like a success.

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One response to this post.

  1. Ah, many congratulations on making the hire — both because I know that the whole search process is a lot of work, but even more because it sounds like you’ll have a great new colleague!

    Reply

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