I just finished interviewing someone for a part-time academic hourly position for one of the NSF Centers here. They don’t really have anyone technical, so I’m asked to handle that portion of the interview every six months or so. It’s really frustrating because no one who comes in wants to work for what they’re offering with no benefits (Academic hourly is capped at something like $12/hr and gets absolutely no benefits, for reference). Of course, the advertisement they put out doesn’t really indicate what the pay is and apparently the latest ad didn’t indicate that it was part-time. The average applicant is in his mid-20s, trying to find a job that they can stay in long-term. When they find out that the position they’re applying for is essentially a dead-end or go-between, they’re usually less than thrilled.
The guy I just finished interviewing is probably in his 50s and is quite capable of doing the job, but he’s already got a full-time job that pays more and has benefits in Bloomington. He was hoping to get on with the U of I, but didn’t really realize the difference in the wording of it being an “hourly” job…which is true of most people who aren’t already knowledgeable of the U of I system. I always feel bad when someone deflates like that, but I also know that the rest of the people interviewing will do their best to gloss over it, so it’s a no-win situation for me.
After about 10 minutes, we both knew that he was qualified but didn’t want the job, so things got awkward. I thought I salvaged it a bit by asking about his time in the Navy, which was listed on his résumé, but it turns out that the Navy really screwed him over. He came back into port one Friday, went and bought a ring, and was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him the following week (they were supposed to be in port for a month). On Monday, he was asked to go start up the reactor for some “testing”. As he was starting it up, he heard commands being issued and found out that they were getting ready to set back out to sea. He didn’t get a chance to call his girlfriend before they left and since she wasn’t registered as a direct relative, they wouldn’t tell her anything about his whereabouts, only offer to leave a message for him. When he got back, he had 3-4 messages from her. He called her up, told her what had happened, and asked to see her. She told him that she thought he was trying to avoid her and didn’t want to see her anymore, so she’d gone back to her old boyfriend. Apparently he’s never gotten over this and has (had?) a lot of ill will toward the Navy over it. I can’t even imagine what the guy went through. I felt bad about having asked, but it was kind of an awkward situation anyway…both of us knowing that he wasn’t going to take the job even if offered.