Prompted by a comment to a recent open-ended post, I'll offer some personal thoughts, directed at candidates, on interviews at the upcoming AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference.
1. The hotel layout may cause you to be a few minutes late for an interview. If you have back-to-backs, let the first school know (in advance of the interview) that you need to leave on time, and let the second school know (in advance of the interview) that you may be just a few minutes late (or more than a few minutes, if the school wants you to teach tax AND commercial law courses). Arrive at all interviews in a calm (and sober) state. Do not run and then arrive all flustered and out of sorts, with beads of sweat the size of silver dollars dripping off the tip of your nose. You'll be remembered, but not for ideal reasons.
2. Knock on the door at the appointed time. (Avoid "shave and a haircut," and do not -- I repeat, DO NOT -- pound thunderously while screaming "NYPD" or "FBI.") Greet the members of the interview team with a firm handshake, good eye contact, and a genuine smile. Unless one of the interviewers gave you your lowest grade in law school. Then fake the smile.
3. This is an interview. Dress appropriately, and conservatively. Your cologne or perfume shouldn't arrive before you do (and it should exit the room when you do the same). Men: shine your shoes, and wear socks that stay up. Oh, and avoid the bow tie. Too geeky. (On advice of counsel, I have no particular thoughts to share with female candidates.)
4. Unless you're told to sit in a particular place, take a chair with a firm back and a hard seat. Avoid the cushy sofas, leather recliners, bean bag chairs, water beds, etc. You may get too comfortable, forget that you are in an interview, and ask for a Heineken. Or you may disappear into the furniture and require the assistance of a crane to remove you.
5. BRING SOME ENERGY AND ENTHUSIASM! (Preferably not chemical-induced.)
6. Expect most of the questions to focus on teaching and scholarship. "Teaching" questions seek information about your ideal course package ("All UCC. All the time."), teaching style ("Charles W. Kingsfield is my hero. MY HERO!"), perceived teaching strengths and weaknesses ("I have none."), etc. "Scholarship" questions may be open (e.g., What are you working on now? Would you tell us about your research agenda? Etc.) or more pointed (e.g., What is the thesis statement of your forthcoming article? Would the following factual twist affect your analysis, and if so, how? Do you really think that five Supremes will buy your argument? Etc.). You may find the tone of the questions friendly and inviting. Or your inquisitor's condescending, sneering, and long-winded delivery may leave you feeling as if you're undergoing a prolonged root canal without the benefit of novocaine. Sometimes the questions will come from just one person, while at other times you may be bombarded with flaming arrows simultaneously shot by several members of the committee (each eager to display their intellectual firepower in front of the dean). Welcome these questions! This is your moment to shine! (And please, don't begin your response with "So, ....")
7. REMAIN ENERGETIC AND ENTHUSIASTIC THROUGHOUT THE INTERVIEW!
8. You may be invited (probably near the end of the interview) to ask questions. Perhaps it's just me, but I would discourage you from opening with "What resources are available to support a new faculty member's scholarly pursuits?" What do you expect us to say? "Here's a check for one million dollars. Make it last until you get tenure." We expect you to produce quality scholarship. We will provide resources that facilitate your ability to meet our expectations. So what's your next question? Don't expect to have more than two to five minutes to ask questions (a longer period of time is NOT a good sign!). Frankly, you want to spend the limited time selling yourself as a teacher and a scholar (unless you're interviewing with one of the 300 schools in the "top twenty," in which case ignore teaching and focus exclusively on scholarship). Most of your questions can wait until the callback, or you can submit an email to the hiring chair. Nevertheless, have one or two ORIGINAL questions in mind. Can't think of any? Try this one: "If I need four articles for tenure, and I already have four articles, do I start with tenure?"
9. Don't watch the clock, glance at your watch, or check for messages on your handheld electronic device (which better not be in your hand!). Interview teams will stay on schedule and bring the interview to a close at the appropriate time (some break at 25 minutes, some when the next candidate knocks on the door, some as soon as the food arrives or the football game starts, etc.). Do not give interviewers any reason to think that you'd rather be elsewhere (warning: this may require an Oscar-worthy performance on your part, especially on Saturday afternoon, when some older faculty members have been known to listen with their eyes closed). Stay focused on the moment.
10. Depart the interview with another round of firm handshakes, direct eye contact, and smiles all around. Express genuine appreciation for the opportunity to meet with the faculty appointments committee. Then walk out the door, start shaking uncontrollably and sobbing gently (forego this "scare tactic" if the next candidate has yet to arrive), liberally apply the hand sanitizer, and proceed to the next interview, ready to repeat the process!