Interview with a Vampire, I mean a Dean

I’ve been in interview hell for the last two days. The whole thing has actually been a real pain in my ass, so much so that I am not sure that I even still want the job.

It started last weekend when I found out I was moving forward in the interview process. I was talking to a co-worker who let me know that the interviews were going to happen and that I needed to address some of my weaknesses in the process. We finished the conversation and I immediately checked my email and received this:

Hi Maddog,

You’ll be interviewing here next week Wed and Thurs as I’m sure you know. Please let me know the title of your presentation. It will take place in 269 and probably will be on Weds 2/28. The master class will then be on Thurs along with meetings with the executive council, the dean and the president.

I’ll fill you in as the schedule takes shape. Let me know if you have any questions.

This was the extent of the information I had. As I read it I had many questions. Like what fucking presentation. What fucking Master Class. Oh, and by the way, does the fact that I’m not even available next Wednesday and Thursday even matter to anyone. I received this email last Friday and immediately called the chair of the department so that she could clarify exactly what I would be doing for the interview. To make matters worse I was in San Diego for the weekend with absolutely no time to plan for the interview, let a lone plan a presentation and put together a master class.

I was finally called back late Sunday afternoon. I indeed had to do a presentation. A portfolio presentation. Basically, I have to put my portfolio into a Powerpoint presentation and take an hour to discuss it. This would have been easy, if I hadn’t been in San Diego without access to any of my photos. I also didn’t have any time to do it even if I had the information with me. As for the class, it was a class about anything I wanted it to be about. I was told to pick something I am incredibly good at and spend an hour “teaching.” This is easier than it sounds. The audience will consist of people of all levels, students and faculty a like. Some of them will have base knowledge and some of them won’t. This will take some thought.

Fast forward a day and it’s 3:00 in the afternoon on Monday and it’s become apparent that I am not going home. This presents a problem because I will have to miss two classes on Tuesday but more importantly I’ll be behind yet one more day preparing for my interviews. I decide to call the chair of the department and let her know that there’s no way I can be ready for a Wednesday interview. She calls me back about an hour later and agrees to change it.

I finally get home and prepare for my presentation and do some prep work for meeting with the Executive Council. I start my interview yesterday with a meeting with students that goes very well. I had them laughing the whole hour we were together and I think I addressed most of their concerns. What I didn’t tell them is I had already voiced my version of their concerns to a number of people. I assured them if I got the job I would start the process to remedy the situation.

At 1:30 yesterday, Thursday, I was scheduled to meet with two members of the Executive Council. They are the big wig academics who get to decide if I am smart enough to work at their college, especially since I don’t have a PhD. I wouldn’t say the interview went well. I answered all their questions but they seemed to not like some of my answers. The whole process was complicated by the fact that the phone kept ringing and one of the guys kept answering it. In the middle of the interview, school was cancelled for the day. It seemed to me that I was definitely not the most important thing on their agenda. They were also concerned that I consider myself more of a mentor than a teacher. They didn’t say it out right but they reminded me that it’s not a professional training school and that I should be giving them a valuable liberal arts education. What I wanted to ask them is what good the education is, if they can’t get a job when they get out because they don’t know how to do anything specifically.

As for the rest of yesterday’s schedule. It was cancelled. You can’t do a presentation if there’s no school. You can’t go to dinner meeting if there’s no school. UGH!!! Now everything is pushed back until Monday.

Today I met with the Dean, who gave me all the financial information. He talked a lot and I just nodded my head and said uh-huh a lot. He kept asking me if I had any questions but anyone who’s ever had a “real” job before could follow the gist of his conversation.

This meeting was followed by a meeting with the President of the College. He was a nice guy, or seem to be. He had his shoes off and his feet up on the table and was leaning back in his chair the whole time. It was a very casual meeting. I was surprised when he said he had a wife because I would have sworn he was gay.

Next I headed off to the coffee shop to meet with the chair of the department and the visiting chair from last year. This is where I began to realize that I didn’t want the job. I was told that the executive council was not happy with some of my answers and wanted clarification on some things. I addressed those things and expressed my concerns about the executive council. It seems that the college WAS determined to hire a PhD in my position. Except that no on has PhD in design that was born in the last 50 year. No one gets an academic degree in design. Those degrees are production based. Which means that I don’t have a dissertation they can hold up and examine to determine my scholarship abilities. They are more concerned with this than they are my artistic abilities. Not one of them asked about my work, design experience, or abilities. It’s clear they are confused as to what they are doing. I didn’t quite say that to the chair but I hinted toward it.

We continued this conversation a bit more and then the visiting chair began to speak. He is the epitome of “old school.” I don’t think he knows the first thing about design ideas of the 21st century, how teaching methods have changed, or at times even what we do. The more he spoke the clearer it became the he didn’t know what he was talking about. When he began to instruct me as to how to teach my class, I was pretty much over it. It only got worse from there. This guy is the type of instructor that was made fun of in my graduate studies. He goes against the very grain of my design aesthetic and my fundamental ideas of how to approach design. If he’s somewhat in charge here how the hell can I work here? How can I fit in here? Do I really want this job?

That’s what going through my head now. We finished our conversation today with him telling my my Master Class should be some sort of history lecture. I almost choked from holding back the laughter. I am not a historian. I can teach about the history of design, but it’s not a course I would be teaching here and I am not really interested in teaching it. I want to talk about design. So that’s what I am going to do. They may not like it, but I am beyond caring.

At this point I am not sure if the worst thing what would happen is not getting the job or actually GETTING the job.