I just saw this article, by Henry Raymond, in the Chronicle of Education that rivaled even the worst of my interview woes:
The committee members repeatedly warned me that their students were not as academically equipped as my current students, and that I’d have a terrible time adjusting to a new caliber of teaching. (My experience with the sample class I taught actually led me to believe that they were underselling their own students.) By the fifth time they had so alerted me, I began to wonder whether they had already settled on a candidate and were trying to get me to withdraw my candidacy.
But while I was expected to sing for my supper, the department made little or no effort to woo me. There was, in fact, quite literally, no supper. Or lunch. At one point during the day, the chairman handed me a prewrapped sandwich from the student cafeteria, served on a paper plate. I was allowed to feast on this meal — two pieces of cold, white bread, concealing a thin layer of stale turkey and a piece of American cheese — while the committee members, who were not eating, plied me with more questions about myself.
Later, on the campus tour, the chairman made a point of showing me the faculty dining room and telling me how good the food was there. I wondered at that point whether the entire day was a test pilot for a new run of Candid Camera. (They had spent considerable money on plane tickets and hotel rooms. Were lunch or dinner going to break the bank?)
Maybe, then, in the end, Large Metropolitan University got it right. It’s a tight job market, and they don’t have to impress anyone. They have a precious commodity at their disposal — a tenure-track job.
But, still, they didn’t get their first choice, and if they don’t change their modus operandi, other candidates will turn them down in the future, too.
Even in the world of academic employment, what comes around does occasionally go around. Search committees might remember that there is a price, however small, to be paid for indifference.