I really enjoyed this Chronicle article. The author writes about how grad students are often urged to compromise in the job-seeking process, and how dangerous that is, as you can end up in a location or position that doesn’t suit you. I especially identified with her opening story, about standing in the post office, wondering if she should drop a job application in the outgoing mail slot. Her gut told her the position wasn’t right for her, but her mind was filled with “advice” about being flexible in our goals.
I had a lot of campus visits during my time on the job market. One, in particular, was an unsettling experience. I just knew in my gut, from the moment I set foot on that campus, that it wasn’t the place for me - even though the pay was high and the position would be challenging. I did my best during the interview process, but I left with the feeling of “I hope they don’t make me an offer.” I was afraid that if it was the only offer I had, I’d be convinced to take it, and end up miserable.
They made me an offer. Fortunately, I had just accepted an offer the day before - from the institution where I now work, and which is a perfect fit for me - so I was able to say “I’m so sorry, but I was about to withdraw my candidacy, as I’ve just accepted another offer. But thank you so much for considering me.” They were very gracious about it, and praised my new institution as a great place to work. All’s well that ends well.
My point, and the point of this article, is that we should trust that gut feeling.