Comprehending the Cattle Call; or, AHA Interviews

Credit: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_CsDPIVIWcF8/TSkvTpOKr9I/AAAAAAAACAE/YS2Qfpc-ipA/s320/IMG_0492.jpgThis blog post by “Miniver Cheevy” is one of the most honest assessments the AHA in general and of interviewing at the AHA in particular. I enjoy the AHA for its book exhibits and locales, but I have only attended when professionally necessary and probably will only attend for that reason in the future.* I can also affirm that it is a much more enjoyable experience when one is not interviewing.

Here’s part of the post about last week’s meeting in New Orleans, worth reading in full:

Although the conference technically features several hundred panelists presenting papers, they often do so to virtually empty rooms. Even the small audience who does attend is often too absorbed in their upcoming interview to fully focus on the Tridentine reforms. Instead, candidates are flitting around elevators and nervously pacing through halls awaiting their turn for a magical preliminary interview.

The AHA interview itself is a strange choreography. Despite having only a half hour or forty-five minutes to get to know someone, the committee spends a lot of time asking questions that should be easily answerable from the materials (often quite extensive) that have already been sent: “Tell us about your research,” “What do you see as your next project?,” “How have you taught your research in classes,” “What courses would you like to teach?” A candidate who has neglected to address such questions in his/her cover letter, CV or other supporting materials is highly unlikely to have made it this far in the process. On the other hand, a candidate who too explicitly refers to the fact that he has spent a good deal of his/her time fashioning a polished application that addresses just such questions is unlikely to get very much further.

*That’s especially true if bloggers/Tweeters such as Claire Potter and John Fea continue to do a great job of summarizing panels and talks.

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