Making them Love Me

I just came back from an on-campus interview (for a job I won’t get, because they clearly have an inside candidate), and I think I pretty much nailed it.  That’s mostly because I wasn’t trying too hard; after all, the search is cooked, so I just relaxed and talked about my work.  But I couldn’t help myself from making it damned clear that I would really, really, really love the job.  I was as effusive in my professions of love as a middle-schooler in heat.  Much of it came in response to the question I was asked a billion times: “So, how do you like it here?”  “Like it?  I love it!”  But of course I love it, because I want the job.  And the search committee knows that.  What they don’t know is whether they love me, and that’s the point of the on-campus: for the committee to decide which of three people they want to spend the rest of their academic lives with.  I’m not sure there’s much that I could have done to make the search committee love me — in this, a job hunt isn’t all that different from the pursuit of human affection.  I suppose I probably should have been more coy, maybe played hard-to-get.  But not too much, though; the trick is to make them want you, but not think that you’re so far out of their league that they might as well not even try.  This takes a particular kind of personality, a certain sort of self-assured-ness that I don’t possess.  After all, I’m still astonished that I’ve gotten this far; the thought that I might actually be a desirable candidate is hard to fathom.  Again, this is as in life — I certainly don’t deserve my partner, and I’m constantly amazed by my great good fortune in that area.  On the whole, I think this is a good thing: my humility has kept me working hard as an academic and as a partner/friend.  But a little more confidence might not be a bad thing on the job market.