Post Academic

Conference Etiquette: The Post-Interview Run-In

Posted in First Person by Arnold Pan on November 21, 2010
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So here’s yet another reason why you should bolt from the conference site as soon as you can: What do you do when you run into your interviewers outside the headquarters hotel or on an escalator or at a restaurant?  Most people would say you should just act normally, like you would with any acquaintance.  OK, I think I can do that.  But I always end up feeling compelled to stretch out the small talk, which then gets me into trouble because I wonder whether this goes into the interview file or if I’m expected to show how much I want the job at every turn.  In the end, I imagine search committee folks would be even less psyched to be caught in these situations, having to be reminded of job interviews after doing a few whole days of them.

Here’s what runs through my mind when I see one of my interviewers coming right towards me when it’s too late to do anything about it…

"Bus Emergency Exit" by Sushiflinger (Creative Commons license)

No, I’m not a stalker: Rather than just assume that an interviewer would see a chance run-in for what it really is, a mere coincidence, I get too caught up in my own head and start to worry s/he might get the wrong idea.  One time, I found myself walking right behind the search committee directly after an interview, which definitely might’ve seem stalker-ish.  On a few occasions, I averted my eyes or dart off in another direction, hoping to avoid eye contact — I don’t know if this strategy works, since I’ve never looked back for fear of getting caught.  My own neuroses capture the mood swings of the job search process, which go from feeling completely miniscule to megalomaniacal, thinking that I matter *that* much to search committee folks who’ve probably set aside my file and put me out of their minds the instant I’ve walked out of that hotel suite.

More after the jump…