Pseudonymous Grad Student over at A Philosophy Job Market Blog has been prepping for interviews and asking for advice for a while now (and I keep trying to be helpful and making everybody seize up with agony instead; I seem to be producing that effect inadvertently a lot these days. Maybe instead of giving Bizarre Metaphor Advice on the blog I should just STFU?). More recently, both Bardiac and Tenured Radical proffer their own helpful hints about preparing for interviews (TR even has a handy crib sheet for what to say when the search committee calls you!). I also just got an email instructing the grads to email all their job materials and availability for next week if they want to schedule a mock job interview with the placement committee.* I guess the time is ripe for me to create an interview parody. And apparently this is the time to start my preparations, run through my little diss spiels, practice answering stupid and not-so-stupid questions.
Or is it?
I have had no calls, no emails, no interview requests. Nada. I have accumulated a nice little pile of rejection letters, though. (Wait, I mean crappy, puke-filled Letters of Doom. I should put them in the litter box and make the cats pee on them. Ahh. I feel better already thinking of it.)
If the wiki of evilness is any guide, I'm out of exactly half of my prospective places already. (And a lot of the WS jobs left to hear from are not really what I do, on a humanities to social sciences continuum, unlike the one that requested materials). I'm feeling like the wallflower at the junior-high dance, watching everyone else get picked but me and my chances slip away.
(Not a dance scene, exactly, but otherwise apt --- I've never been able to finish watching this film, it's so painful.)
I'm just feeling like I was in exactly this same place last year --- oh wait, because I was! I didn't get any interviews last time and I really think that this year will be a repeat. (Side note: Dissertation Buddy is on the market for her first time out this year. She keeps saying that she will feel like an utter failure and total fuck-up if she doesn't at least make it to the interview stage ---- "Just one interview, that's all I really want," she says ----- and when I point out that I didn't get anything at all last year, she says yes, I know, apologizes, and then five minutes later is talking about how much it sucks to not even make it to the interview level on the first year out and she really hopes she will make it that far. She's great, but not always the most aware of others.)
So do I even bother with scheduling this mock interview shit?
Last year, I could tell I was out of the running everywhere and so refused to practice the interview (got shit for it too). There is something nice to being eliminated so early --- I spent the week leading up to christmas being sad and getting over everything, and then went home and had a nice visit with the family. I didn't have to spend any time prepping interview questions or frantically researching schools or writing out a job talk, just relaxed and then got back to my chapter.
Of course, that was my first year out, and there were definitely tears and depression before I got to a zen enough state to go back to my work. This year is my second attempt and the stakes are higher (thanks for reminding me, Dissertation Buddy!) --- as in I haven't been able to secure teaching and have been subsisting on loans and I have to file and walk this spring, have to. And who knows what I'll do to eat and pay rent next year? My dept. has told me I'm SOL for adjuncting next year and I just recently got some "favors" from my other departments; that makes me suspect I've been put on the bottom of the list and they'll want to spread work around to some of the others graduating with me.
But most important, everyone constantly talks about how "you're supposed to do better" on subsequent years out. Supposed to do better as in, this narrative of progress, or moving to the front of the line and getting your turn. I don't see why, though, if they simultaneously claim the process is "a crapshoot" or like a "lottery." I thought the whole point of gambling and probability was that past results have no relation to future performance.
I don't know about that; just that I'm feeling pretty shitty about now. So do I sign up for a practice interview run that I probably won't even need? Gah.
* As far as I know, this year's job placement committee excused themselves by moving to other countries, leaving everything in the laps of the previous year's committee. I have no clue if there'd be people in that mock interview room, or crash test dummies dressed up like professors instead.