Tuesday, November 29, 2005
A colleague elsewhere writes with some useful (and timely) advice for those seeking law teaching jobs:
One subject on which there is relatively little advice out there (compared to the meat market and most relevant qualifications) is the flyback interview. I've seen a good number of candidates come through my school now, and it seems that some advice might be helpful, especially to those who are interviewing at lower-tier schools (and those who don't have great institutional support from the law schools from which they graduated).
First, the competition is fierce for all law teaching jobs, regardless of the tier of the school. The math is straightforward: there are hundreds of candidates, most of whom meet basic qualifications, and perhaps dozens of spots. This is not like the law firm market. Even
if you've never heard of the school, you are fortunate to get the initial interview, much less the flyback interview. Thus, do not act like you're doing us a favor by deigning to talk to us, or that we'd be lucky to get you -- even if you think it's true. Don't believe it? Go find the lowest-ranked school you got an initial interview at and check out the qualifications of the people on the faculty, especially the people hired in the last few years. You will likely find that you aren't slumming by talking to us, and we'll notice if you think otherwise.
Second, the job talk should not be you reading a paper to us. At most schools, you're likely to be interrupted with questions or comments, some challenging your basic assertions, within a few minutes of starting. "That's not the part of the paper I'm at" is not a good response to such questions. This is a chance to show your facility with your subject matter and your ability to work questions into your presentations. Hey, that sounds a lot like what you do in a classroom!
Third, while there may be exceptions, don't assume that the lower ranked schools are uninterested in your scholarship. Again, check out the publications by recent hires; you're likely to see productive folks doing interesting and high-level work, and many lower-tier schools are seeking to improve their ranking by improving their faculty's publication records. Just like when you're at the top schools, have a coherent answer to the question "What is next on your scholarship agenda?"
Finally, don't blow off the student interview if you have one. They can't get you hired, but they may be able to put enough doubt about your ability to work with students to put you below another candidate. You should know something about the student body (say, how big it is and what the active student groups are) and have nontrivial questions to ask them.
Comments are open if others have further advice and suggestions for fly-back interviews.