I've been buried under a stack of job files -- our searches having been somewhat delayed by the Provost's office, our incompetent clerical staff, and the endless meetings about procedures required by the U's legal departments. This is the fifth search I've been on from the hiring side of things -- and the first since getting tenure. It does feel a little bit different this time around -- but I'm not entirely sure if it's how I've changed or the circumstances of this search.
I've always felt that the work leading up to hiring decisions was one of the most important kinds of departmental service I could do -- after all, as someone relatively early in my career (and especially now that I have tenure), I have a vested interest in helping to choose people who could be my colleagues for a Very Long Time. Plus, my department includes a couple of tenured faculty who it is widely felt were not the right choices -- so I've seen how mistakes in hiring (and tenuring) can really burn a department or college.
Reading job files always simultaneously makes me feel excited (new smart people! interesting topics!) and depressed ((1) all these smart people who have lousy jobs or don't have jobs at all and (2) all these not-so-smart people who shouldn't ever have been encouraged to get a PhD at Crap University because now what are they going to do, really?). During my first couple years in the job I would sometimes also feel a bit anxious about my own qualifications -- why did I have a job when obviously there were so many other super smart more accomplished people out there. Happily for me, I don't get that anxiety any longer from the job applications. I'm far enough removed from the fresh-PhD stage of things to not feel competitive with these folks. In fact, many of them seem outrageously young and unformed to me. (I do get imposter syndrome anxiety from other things, like reading the MLA convention program, but that's for another post.)
But today, I'm feeling like Dr Grumpy. The sheer burden of reading approximately 700 pages of writing samples in a subfield that is not my own, in order to prepare for a meeting that will undoubtedly result in one colleague insisting on more meetings, another only championing the male candidates, and a third stomping out of the room in a huff -- combined with the work I still need to finish in giving & grading exams, calculating final grades, and oh, yes, grading some late papers -- has me kind of off-kilter. If I can just make it to the 20th, all will be well. But getting to the end of the semester feels like a long haul right now.