THE LAST CANDIDATE
We had the last of four candidates today for our open tenure-track position. I've been nice and detached from the whole process as part of my mental health regimen -- wasn't on the committee, didn't have an investment in the outcome. La, la-la. Said to myself at the beginning, "Wouldn't it be nice to like everybody? Then when we have that meeting at the end where we go around the table and everyone is duking it out and insulting each other and the untenured people look like they are being attacked by Vikings, I would say magnanimously: 'I like everybody! Hire whomever you like!'" My blood pressure would be about 90 over 70, and I would float home, and N would say "Anything happen at work today?" And I would say, "No, not really -- and you?"
Yeah, it would have been nice. And yet, my position was threatened because I had reservations about the first three candidates -- and in the case of one, my reservations were, as they say, Fatal. (This is how we speak in the Zenith history department. When you say such a thing -- which means the candidate is Not Acceptable, and I Cannot Be Held Responsible For The Outcome If Defied, you shake your head gravely and say, "I am afraid my reservations are fatal.")
I won't say why, since I think the only problem is that the candidate was a preemie: pushed out on the market prematurely. Ivy schools tend to float such candidates on schools like Zenith because it's a "good" job but doesn't expose the undercooked graduate student to the rigors of an R-One school where the book is supposed to be done by reappointment. Because, of course, when we see them the dissertation has barely been started and will be finished by June, which means it will be an Ungodly Mess, and the poor tyke will pretty much have to begin all over again to write a book. I think if I met this candidate a year from now, when s/he was better cooked, s/he would be fine and the dissertation would have gone through at least a second draft. But heck, I was willing not to kick even about hiring the preemie if it came about, so very, very conflict averse am I right now.
But I wanted the last candidate to do well. "Thrill me, Chill me --- never let me go until you...." You know. That's how you want to feel about hiring someone even if you are Determined Not To Care. And (Holding Breath) the candidate was a .......woman.
OK, you're probably saying, "Don't hold your breath, Radical."
And I've got to tell you she smacked the ball out of the park. Not just with my crowd (we were casting covert glances at each other as we felt the energy in the room rising -- could it be? Could it be?) but with Dr. Grumpo and Professor Hatrack and Dr. Shoetree! Why Hatrack even asked his traditionally pointless and confusing question and she handled it like a pro, answering it like it really made sense, smiling at him warmly and pleasing him no end. Heck, everyone might even vote for her, she was that good.
Oh frabjous day -- Caloo! Calay! You see, I really did want to care after all.