The search committee for one of our faculty job openings recently completed its preliminary telephone interviews and identified three possible finalists to bring to campus for further consideration.
Meanwhile, the administrative assistant in my office who handles the logistics of faculty searches (extremely well, I might add) forwarded me an e-mail from one of the candidates who was eliminated, in which he complained that his phone interview took place four hours before it was scheduled.
Our e-mail for the interview clearly states that it will occur at, let’s say, 11:30 a.m. CST (our time zone here in Iowa). The applicant is on the West Coast, in the Pacific time zone. The candidate claims that when he received the call at 9:30, he wasn’t ready to speak to the committee, and in fact lost 10 minutes of his interview time because he was engaged in another activity, and that we should have called at 1:30 in the afternoon PST.
I understand that time zones are confusing, especially for those who don’t have family scattered across the country in different ones, or who don’t travel often and live directly with the effects of time differences. I understand as well the disappointment of a candidate who doesn’t do as well as he might have in the interview due to a mix-up of the type described here.
For an interview situation, however, it’s the candidate’s responsibility to get it right. This candidate’s contention has been that 11:30 CST is somehow the same time as 1:30 PST. I’ve seen all the e-mail correspondence concerning this interview, and the candidate’s logic frankly escapes me. Our e-mail clearly indicates CST as the time from which we’re creating the schedule, and as far as I can tell, 11:30 a.m. CST is always 9:30 PST, no matter how you look at it.
Part of me is sympathetic to this candidate. Being on the job market is often a horrible experience, and even when it’s a good one, the stress can be excruciating. But making a fundamental error about time zones in planning for one’s telephone interview is not a very good sign, and, thus, despite my sympathy for the candidate’s confusion, the search has moved on.