Last year, my school's Appointments Committee took a proactive step in responding to one of the most frequent (and canned) questions from faculty candidates. Prior to the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference, we sent to every candidate on our interview schedule a detailed memo about our institutional support for faculty scholarship. The memo included information about our summer research grants, conference funding, research assistants, summer works-in-progress series, term-time colloquia with outside speakers, internal workshops, course relief policies, etc.
I wish I could say that the memo freed up candidates to ask more creative questions, and for interviewers to give more creative answers, but I'm not sure it did. All it did was make it a bit easier to evaluate the one candidate who clearly hadn't bothered to read the memo (and so asked, "What support does your school offer for scholarship?").
After the support-for-scholarship question, probably my least favorite question to field at the AALS Faculty Recruiting Conference is, "What are you looking for in a colleague?" It is a fair question, to be sure, but my guess is that (a) everyone on the Appointments Committee has a different answer; and (b) the answers given by interviewers aren't especially revealing.
Is there a better way to ask/answer the same question in a way that demonstrates a special interest on the part of the candidate? Is there a better way to answer the question that provides particular insight into the school? I usually respond, and have written (here), that I'm looking for "the trifecta: a strong scholar, strong teaching and strong (read: service-oriented) membership in the legal profession." There are probably few schools that would say otherwise. Would it be better to ask (and answer) about the characteristics of faculty members who are successful at this particular institution? Would it be better to ask (and answer), "What is some advice you would have for a new faculty member about becoming a strong contributor at this school, and would your advice be the same for a new faculty member at any school?" Perhaps these alternatives aren't more illuminating than the original. I aspire to depart from the interview script in an engaging and informative way, but I haven't figured out how to do that.