Being on the job market is still very fresh in my mind. I remember very well how terrified one is during phone interviews, MLA interviews, and campus visits. Now that I'm on a real search committee for a job candidate (as opposed to those fake ones where the choice is predetermined and everybody just goes through the motions), I feel a lot of compassion towards the candidates. My first instinct is to be kind and reassuring with them.
However, this job search is extremely important. My own professional future might depend on it to a larger extent that I would wish for. For this reason, I will have to put my kindness aside for the moment (which isn't very difficult for me to do, as regular readers of the blog must know by now) and ask every tough question that comes to mind. I'm also not one of those academics who fears that people will see her as "too bitchy." My guiding principle in life is that people would worry a lot less what others thought of them if they only knew how rarely human beings think about others.
At my department, junior faculty members are treated as equals. Nobody expects us to sit there quietly and nod in agreement. Not a single senior colleague has ever pulled rank on me or declared that my opinions were not valuable because I was less experienced. Now, I'm going to have an opportunity to have a one-on-one dinner with the candidate where I will be able to find out everything I need to take an informed position on him. I hope I don't make the candidate suffer too much in the process.