More Views From This Side of the Table

So one of the secret joys of job searches is that you get to eat out lots, often at places you like. I expect, out of this influx of candidates, to get at least one good steak dinner on the University's dime. That probably means if you're hungry, reading this post isn't going to help. But really, it isn't intended just to be about food.

Beyond my own selfish (and gluttonous) motives, one of the things I'm liking in our candidates is that they're staking a claim on some things and making me do it, too. I'm in a program that's got a firmly stated mission - it's one of the attractive things that I think it well and truly attractive about our program - so sooner or later, anyone who wants to work here has to address it. Some candidates tiptoe around it, some try to ignore it , some pay lip service to it.

As a bit of clarification, I don't mean a mission statement in that resume/business school/corporate manner. Ours has a pretty direct view of what our program and field of endeavor is lacking and asks that we - and our students - bring their A games to change it. But for me, what I'm seeing this go-round is truly impressive.

As you may have guessed, yours truly likes a debate. Too much probably. So when a candidate sets down their fork, ignores their Pad Thai, looks me in the eye and says, "Now you know what I think. What do you think your mission means?", things are off to a good start. I look for that ability to engage - and to question - from a colleague. I didn't come from one of those particularly combative graduate programs, but we did have great discussions on things, and more than a few people there changed how I think about things. So maybe that's part of why I think it's important that I get a sense from candidates about how they'd read the mission of our department and where they'd take it.

And if their argument is good enough to make me ignore my Spring roll and Masuman curry, well, then we've got a winner, don't we?


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