Jeff and thousands of others head to Denver for the job market meetings.  Our flyouts in MEDS begin next week.  I am going to dinner with our first candidate on Sunday night.  I already know him and he already has an offer from UofC.  He can relax, enjoy giving his paper and meeting everyone on all his flyouts.  He hopefully can also enjoy dinner on Sunday without any feeling of nervousness.  Those not in this lucky position will be more worried about their visits.  My brain addled by 10 hours of teaching so far this week, I will focus on the most trivial aspect of the visit – the job market dinner.  I discussed this in a previous post from the perspective of faculty so let me switch focus and put myself in the shoes of the candidate.

Most obviously, people will still be checking you out as a future colleague at dinner.  Will you be fun to hang out with?  Are you a potential co-author etc etc…?  So, unfortunately, you’ll still be “performing.”

Less crucially, there are the wine and dessert questions.  Should you have a glass or wine and should you order dessert?  Are you exposing yourself as an alcoholic by having a drink?  Are you exposing yourself as an out-of-control sugar-holic by having dessert?  Let me put your mind to rest on these two questions.

Some if not all the people going to dinner with you will also want to have a glass of wine.  This is especially true of macroeconomists who will want to have many, many drinks and then go to a bar after dinner.  So, by all means say you would like a drink if you want one and say no if you do not.  Others will drink anyway even if you refuse so just report your true preferences.

The dessert question is a bit more subtle.  If you do not order dessert, neither will anyone else.  Perhaps you are really tired and want to go to your hotel and go to sleep.  They will want to be polite and not delay you.  (The macro-economists will drop you off and go to the bar without you.)  But, some of the people at dinner will want to have dessert.  The senior faculty do not get out to good restaurants too much anymore and are focused on childcare most evenings. Of course they want dessert!  So here, you must misrepresent your true preferences – order dessert and let everyone else go crazy and order the crème brûlée and the chocolate cake.  They will thank you for it and think of you kindly when they vote on offers.  If you are not hungry, order a sorbet.  If you can’t eat it, let it melt and pour it surreptitiously into the flower arrangement in the middle of the dining table – there will be such an arrangement at the fine dining destination they will take you to.