I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!


The annual meeting of the Modern Language Association is the gift to the lazy blogger that keeps on giving, isn’t it, friends?  Rate Your Students has posted more updates from Skeptinautica and Layla, but today’s must-read (so far) is “Does Anyone Know How to Interview?  Ten Mistakes from Yesterday’s MLA.”  Yes, folks–read it and weep.  Ten interviews, ten boneheaded blunders.  (Remind me:  why is it so hard to get a job teaching humanities these days?)  Some of my faves:

Candidate 1:Admitted [to a department with a 4-4 load] that teaching was relatively low on his priorities. “I really don’t want to lose the momentum I have in my own work.” Also apologized for arriving late becaue he assumed the time we set for the interview was his local time, not the time in San Francisco.  [Ed. note–unless he arrived from Alaska, Hawai’i, or Asia, wouldn’t he have been extremely early rather than late for an interview in the Pacific Time Zone?]

.         .         .         .         .        

Candidate 4: When asked if she had any questions for us, asked, “What time zone are you in?”

.         .         .         .         .        

Candidate 8: Brought out a banana and a yogurt (with metal spoon!) mid-interview, and said, “I have an interview right after this and no time to eat. Do you mind?”
.         .         .         .         .        
Candidate 10: Came one hour early, explaining that he’d never been out of “NYC,” and couldn’t find a clock in the hotel showing local time. Also asked if he could substitute his comp teaching for graduate courses in fiction.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with the time zone confusion?  (Helpful hint:  Turn on your mobile phone when you deplane–it automatically knows what time it is wherever you land!)  These tales smack of Eastern cluelessness and that special provincialism of people who have never lived outside of the BosWash corridor.  I’d be just plain wary of hiring anyone who hasn’t yet mastered 30-year old clock radio technology.  (And a special note to the anti-Hunger Artist:  you don’t look like you’re in-demand when you eat during a job interview, you just look like a jerk.  Would you like a side of slightly used Chapstik with that?)
But enough with the cautionary tales–Tenured Radical has posted yet more sensible advice for earnest job-seekers about how to dress for the AHA, which is coming up immediately after we ring in the new year.  Now, just close your eyes and pretend that everyone from the West coast showed up 3 hours late for every interview and displayed as much active incompetence in discovering local time on the East coast.  Can you picture it?  Yes, my darlings:  that’s how dumb you Easterners look to us.  I have half a mind now to campaign to bring the AHA to Phoenix sometime in the next decade just to smell the toast burning as Easterners try to figure out whether or not Arizona is in the Mountain or the Pacific Time Zone.  (Hint:  it’s both!  But that’s how things are in Wonderland, where nothing is as it seems!)
UPDATE, later this morning:  RYS has posted a reply from Hank the History professor, who seems entirely too earnest to be published there, but who offers some excellent advice for job candidates:  “For God’s sake, eat an energy bar!”  Hank, you’re such a caring guy.  Why not offer them as door prizes for your job candidates next weekend at the AHA?

0 thoughts on “I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!

  1. I grew up in Indiana, when it was pretty much all in its own special non-changing timezone. We were always acutely aware of everyone else’s changes. Still, I can’t imagine how little research candidates are doing about their prospective universities and about the conference interview, itself, that they commit these egregious faux pas. It does make for fun blogging!

    I think you’ve got a great idea with campaigning to have the AHA meet in Phoenix sometime soon. Both for the fun of watching unprepared candidates’ heads explode and for the joy of holding it in a lovely, southwestern city.


  2. Thanks, Janice–quite frankly, I don’t understand at all why the AHA insists on meeting in snowy northern cities in January. Doesn’t Miami-Dallas-Phoenix-L.A.-San Francisco-Seattle seem much more enticing, not to mention manageable travel-wise?

    Indiana is “spayshul” in that anti-Daylight Savings stance, too. I used to think it was the shared anti-government politics that led to Indiana’s and Arizona’s insistence on staying on Standard Time all year long–you know, “the gummint’s not gonna tell me what time it is” thing–but having visited Tucson a few times recently, I’ve come to appreciate why places like Arizona want to extend their after-dark hours in the summers rather than “save” daylight. It’s frakking hot when the sun shines, and people can get outside and do stuff when it’s dark again.

    (I used to live in Ohio 7 miles from the Indiana border, with a person who worked 1 day a week in Indiana. He was a time traveler on those days!)


  3. Dear Historiann –

    At last I have found a place on the internet for professors to commiserate.

    I am clinically deaf, which resulted in some hilarious “dialogue” throughout Red Rackham’s Treasure, but really hurt my chances at this year’s round of MLA interviews. A typical exchange –

    “What is your name?”

    “Oh, no thank you, I just ate.”

    “YOUR NAME !!!!”

    “Oh, I think you will see that this proof is just so.”

    “Billions of blue blistering barnacles!!”

    Sincerely –

    Professor Calculus


  4. I’m not going to add anything brilliant here but wow that’s stupid. I’ve lived on the East Coast my entire life (except for the time I’ve spent out of the country) but things like time zones just are not that difficult. That’s just stupidity. There’s no “Eastern cluelessness”; that’s straight up stupidity.


  5. Hey, we in the west have plenty of stupidity to go around, but not knowing what time it is *in the west* is almost by definition Eastern stupidity. (Even our idiots know what time zone we’re in, and when to re-set their watches. We send the really, really stupid ones to Arizona because they don’t have to ever change their watches there!)


    And, undine–agreed, agreed. I wonder if they remembered to pee first AND brush their teeth before their interviews?


  6. Fair enough, we can call it Eastern stupidity. I’d call it reason #who knows to not get hired: if you can’t take the time to sync your watch to any of the following things: the announcement in the plane of the local time, your cell phone, your hotel alarm clock, the tv. I get where you’re coming from, historiann, I guess my brain just can’t get around somebody from wherever they’re from not getting onto local time, to say nothing of mentioning it in an interview along with your PhD credentials. It’s very “the dog ate my homework.”


  7. When I moved to Indiana, the state still didn’t have Daylight Savings Time. I figured that there must have been a deep feeling against it in the political establishment. Yet when Mitch Daniels was elected governor, with instituting Daylight Savings Time as part of his platform, the legislature immediately worked out a bill to catch the state up with the previous century. It passed easily. The only real points of contention were exactly how the boundaries of the Eastern and Central time zones were to be drawn. Apparently, everybody who cared about the issue was in favor of the change. There was a lot of support for the change from the business community. (I recall my wife complaining how confusing it was at work coordinating teleconferences with colleagues in Michigan.) Year somehow, the state had never gotten around to adopting DST (except for a few counties in the west that were on DST illegally).

    Confusion about Indiana’s timekeeping practices was also problem when we had visitors to the physics department at IU. There was little trouble with people coming from far away, who had to fly and change their watches. But people who drove into the state often showed up an hour late.


  8. Wow, Buzz–I had no idea that Indiana had joined the 20th century! So much has changed in the 7-1/2 years since I’ve left my sweet little border town on the western edge of the Eastern time zone.

    I know exactly what you mean about locals being confused about which local time you observed. Medical clinics on the Indiana side had to remind patients coming from Ohio that they were on Indiana time, and Ohio clinics had to remind Indiana patients that they were on Ohio time. The need for this extra layer of confusion was totally beyond me, so I’m happy to hear that everyone’s on the same clock now.


  9. Pingback: Grand Hotel: The AHA Conference Interview Redux - Tenured Radical - The Chronicle of Higher Education

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