Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Enjoy the silence

I had an interview a few weeks ago for a dream postdoc: not only is the research innovative and truly something I'd wanted to do well before hearing about the position, the school top notch, and the department interests overlapping with mine, but they pay attention to postdocs' professional development to an extent I'd never seen before. They actually have professional development seminars for postdocs, include them in department activities, and have a strongly encouraged ethic to mentor others' postdocs so postdocs interact with other faculty; they even seem to treat their RAs significantly better than most places.

I sent them an update yesterday afternoon with my confirmed defense date, and also an offer to start even earlier than I'd offered before (they want someone ASAP) and haven't heard back even a perfunctory "Thanks." I also hadn't gotten even a perfunctory response to my thank you email (yes, I also sent a paper thank you note). The silence starts to bring back all the reasons they might not be as interested in me as they were at the time that I interviewed (1).

I'm not normally so zen, but it seems like half the battle of the job search is to embrace the times of uncertainty as times in which other things can be done. Hearing an outcome poses new dilemmas and distractions. Having not heard yet, one can continue with life as normal, putting the job search out of one's mind. It sounds so simple, but is so difficult to carry out.


(1) For those who like to read awkward job interview anecdotes, I include the following:

a. It had been raining early in the morning, but wasn't raining when I left. Due to torrential rain I was soaked from the waist down by the time I arrived at the interview. Absolutely soaking wet: wringing out my skirt yielded water and there was even water inside my waterproof shoes. I forgot about the water and it didn't make me nervous or on edge at all, and my skirt was dark enough (and quick-drying stylish polyester!) that it might have just looked stiff rather than wet, but the chair I first sat in was still wet the next time I sat in it.

b. I had a phone appointment as part of my interview, but the phone appointment cancelled and wanted to reschedule. When I was back home, the phone appointment called me at the designated time, but only had 10 minutes to talk before they picked up their daughter from pre-school and spent most of the time talking about irrelevant details, and then he suggested we talk yet a third time and gave me a range of times in which I could call if I wanted. Since we didn't have an appointment I forgot about it, but the next day I emailed, but he didn't respond. Obviously the guy is busy and a bit disconnected. Probably not a big deal, but this guy does something related to what I would do.

c. I was an early interview. They posted many notices with different deadlines: the deadline on the post I was responding to was 6 weeks earlier than the last posted deadline, which actually hasn't passed yet. In theory they could interview people a month after me, and the later candidates probably have a slight edge.

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