Why didn’t I get that teaching job?

Few things in life are more frustrating than going through all the work of applying and interviewing for a position that you really want and feel you are very qualified for…and not getting it. Fortunately, I was blessed with a position at Western pretty early in my job-hunting career, so I haven’t experienced this as much as most. But, I feel your pain.

If this is happened to you, or if you think it might happen to you, Timothy Larson Larsen from Wheaton College offers some insight into why you didn’t get that teaching job, by addressing the four most common questions people ask when they didn’t get that teaching position they so badly wanted. I can’t imagine actually asking the first question (out loud), but the others are ones I’ve heard more than once.

  • Given how eminently well qualified I am for this position, how can you possibly justify eliminating me so early in the process?
  • I know I was eliminated over a month ago, so why have you not had the decency to tell me so?
  • How in the world can you expect someone applying for an entry-level position to already have a handful of research articles in major peer-reviewed journals and a book contract with a leading university press?
  • What did I do wrong?

His answers are well worth reading if you an insider’s look at how the hiring process works at a major Christian college.

About Marc Cortez

Theology Prof and Dean at Western Seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general.

Posted on February 17, 2011, in Teaching Tips, Th.M. Program and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. easy question- simple answer- God didn’t want you there.

  2. Jim’s take would be my take. And I’m not even into meticulous providence (as normally articulated) 😉 .

  3. Wait, wait, wait…Jim sounds like Bill O’Reilly now. Yes, whatever happens is God’s will. But that doesn’t mean we can’t study “second causes” (cf. WCF V:2) and learn from them.

    • Pat, I didn’t take you for a “second causes” kind of guy. 😉

      • Part of the deal being a Presbyterian minister:-)

      • I figured as much, Pat 😉 ; but you seem to appreciate folks like Torrance, and I see you over at our friend’s blog Per Crucem ad Lucem — who has a much more expansive view of things than your typical Presby. Actually I know many other (PTS guys) who are Pres. and they don’t go the “second causes” route. 😉 There’s room to stretch. 🙂

  4. I have to say that I’m with Pat on this one. Affirming divine sovereignty doesn’t preclude learning from events so you can grow and move forward.

    Though it would take a lot of pressure off a job interview if you could just conclude that God will get you the job if he wants you to have it so what you say/do doesn’t really matter.

  5. There’s this crazy notion out there in HR land that people are supposed to know what they’re doing and an even more crazy notion that a formal education is the requisite source of that knowledge. As a corporate trainer without the formal degree I have countless doors closed to me because I lack the pedigree even though I have two decades of experience, a realm of skills, God’s blessings of talent, and a passion to share what I’ve received. I could never hope for a college teaching position because I can’t get in the door because I do not meet the pedigree standard. In a perfect blend of real and academic worlds a candidate would have a pedigree and be able to pass a practical test of skill. Too often (in any job, not just academia) the real job requirements or too poorly defined and the hiring process hinges not on qualification, but on artificial qualities. Well, just a few thoughts on the topic to ponder…

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