from the desk of... candidate 4

The Placement Exchange started out scary. Really scary.

On my first morning of the conference, I went to my mailbox cubby, expecting to find a box full of invitations, like Christmas presents, waiting for me. I was excited to see a handful of notes from the Universities I requested to meet with the night before. But as I read them, my heart began to sink.

“After reviewing you resume, we have determined you are not qualified for this position and we are not interested in pursuing you as a candidacy.” A simple no would have sufficed.

I felt out of my league as all the confident, impeccably-dressed professionals strolled past me to their of job interviews. Some commented how they already had three so far this morning. I didn’t have any interviews this morning. I didn’t know if I would have any at all.

I talked with a few people that seemed to know the ropes. They had interviews already lined up in advance and had to reject other universities offers to interview them because their schedules were booked.

Teach me, I pleaded.

In a sense of panic, I started making notes to every school in attendance. “Please talk to me!” I seemed to scream in my messages.

By the end of the first day, after many more rejection notices, I had finally a few confirmed interviews lined up. By the end of the conference I had a tidy sum, maybe 7 different schools interviewed me. Not bad.

What blew my mind was how much the mood varied from interview to interview. I mean, they asked the same questions and I basically gave the same responses. Some interviews went fantastic: the mood and energy was high, there were laughs, rapport was built, and it was a fun experience. But others didn’t fare too well: awkward glances, miscommunication, low energy, and little connection, as if I was running into a wall. The morning interviews were terrible, grumpy, and sleepy, the afternoon ones were alert, responsive, and even-headed, and the evening ones were laid back, fun, sloppy, and always enjoyable.

I ended up with two second interviews. And I was invited to a nighttime social, an opportunity to “let your hair down.” But in reality it was still game on. That get-together was time to act like a politician; go around shaking hands, kissing babies, showing them how you interact, all that stuff.

All in all, I’m glad I had the experience. I realized there are a lot of people looking for these Hall Director jobs, more than I thought. A lot of them seem more experienced than me. I might not be at a point where I can just choose any university in the country I want to work for and expect to find a job. I might have to apply everywhere and take anything I can get. Even if it’s in the middle of nowhere, thousands of miles from home. As one candidate said to me while waiting for his last interview, “Brother needs a job.”

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