Although it's a bit early to discuss fly-outs/campus visits, I suppose now is as good of a time as any to turn to them in our Job-Market Boot Camp. Alas, when it comes to this issue, I find myself in a bit of a bind--for, to be perfectly frank, I have only had one of them turn into a TT job offer. Consequently, what I would like to do here is (A) direct readers to what I found to be a very helpful series of posts at The Professor is In [link fixed!], and (B) provide some suggestions based on my experiences on fly-outs.
Suggestion 1: know the school and department you are visiting.
This might sound too obvious to waste time on. However, since I think I made a mistake or two on this score--a mistake that I imagine that other people coming from grad school might make--it might be worth saying a few things about it.
Most of us come from grad programs where the overwhelming focus is on research. Accordingly, it is all too natural to want to talk a lot about it on your campus visit. All the same, there are certain dangers to this, at least at some schools: teaching-focused liberal-arts colleges (SLACs) and community colleges. First, although SLACs often do want some amount of research productivity, it is really important to realize that at many of them, the culture focuses on teaching. I know this because I have spent the last six years working at just such a school. At my university, the University of Tampa, research is valued but teaching and student engagement are prioritized more highly. Second, in my experience, many smaller schools are worried about hiring perceived "flight-risks": candidates who seem like they really want to move up in the research world and out to a research job. This is not just my impression. I was explicitly asked by search committee members, deans, and a provost, at several on-campus interviews whether, given my research output, I would "stay." At small schools, a flight risk equals a failed search. The college or department might not get the tenure-stream position back again. Consequently, there is strong pressure to hire someone who won't leave.
For these reasons, I would suggest it is a very good idea to know how to "pitch yourself" on visits. This doesn't mean being dishonest. I was honest at every campus-visit I went on that I care about and love doing research. What it means is: be careful. At teaching institutions, don't try to turn every conversation towards research. Tailor your job-talk to a general audience rather than specialists. Try to focus on and speak to the school's and department's values. Read their website, try to get a feel for the campus culture, and try to put yourself forward (with honesty) as the kind of person who would fit right into their campus culture. Finally...before I forget, you need to tailor your attitude to the kind of school you visit. While research institutions may be looking for a person who defends their argument to death in a job-talk Q&A, at a teaching school the people in your audience are plausibly looking less at whether you can give a knock-down answer and more at how congenial you might be as a colleague and with students (I, for instance, made a concerted effort in my teaching-institution fly-outs to not refute challenging questions but rather recognize them as good challenges and "propose" an answer).
Suggestion 2: Know the faculty members, deans, provosts, etc.
One of your primary tasks on a campus visit is to get people to like you. As I've mentioned before, there is a wealth of empirical research indicating that people tend to make on hiring decisions on all kinds of things other than "skills and qualifications." Broadly speaking, people tend to hire people they "like" (in a broad sense). Thus, you need to make sure that you not only highlight your skills (research, teaching, etc.); you need to appeal to the people interviewing you. In order to do that effectively, you need to know who the people hosting you are, and what they care about. Indeed, oftentimes people make it very clear on their websites what they care about. Some deans make it very clear they are into interdisciplinary stuff, some provosts make it clear that they are interested in raising their school's research profile; etc. And this is all good stuff to know. So is knowing which faculty members might be gruff. Trust me, I've been there: on a campus interview with an unfriendly host. Knowing who might be unfriendly in advance, and the kinds of axes they might have to grind, can be helpful--and sometimes you can tell what they are by looking at their webpage or ratemyprofessors page.
I know, I know: this all sounds terribly calculating. Shouldn't you just be yourself? Unfortunately, there are reasons to believe that the answer is no. You need to be your best self--trying to put yourself in the best light possible, without being dishonest about who you are. And knowing the interests, values, and personalities of the people who will be hosting you can plausibly help.
Suggestion 3: at a teaching school, appeal to students
In my experience, philosophy departments at smaller, teaching-oriented schools care very much about "butts in seats." Indeed, a department's long-term viability as some schools--that is, whether the department will continue to survive in the modern economic environment--is a function of (a) how many majors and minors the department has, and (b) how high student demand is for courses in the discipline. Accordingly, there are reasons to believe that these schools are really interested in how well you will attract students to your classes and the department. Really putting the time in to put together a fun, interactive teaching demo and student-accessible job-talk, then, is plausibly important. Indeed, on one of my visits, there were a few students who sat in on my job-talk, and I heard later that their opinion really mattered to the search committee! Finally, if you are given a campus tour by students or have lunch with them, make sure you are kind and engaged.
Suggestion 4: be nice to everyone, no matter what
This probably also goes without saying, but you need to be on your "best behavior" throughout your visit. Okay, maybe you can get away with being hostile if you are a superstar interviewing a top-ranked program (though I don't really know!)--but, for the most part, there are reasons to think that you should try to put your best foot forward with everyone: faculty, students, departmental assistants, tour guides, real-estate guides, bed and breakfast owners, and so on. You never know who might play a role in the eventual hiring decision.
Further, in my experience, one really needs to be on one's best behavior with hostile hosts. On one of my campus visits, one faculty member was openly flabbergasted, groaning out load (!) during my job, looking peevish, and asking really hostile questions. Because he had been so nice to me previously (and said at the end of my visit that the visit was "fantastic"), I wondered whether he was testing me--testing, that is, to see whether I would bite and be hostile in return. Although, if indeed this is what he was doing, it might seem really mean, it might have a point. After all, these are people who, if they hire you, will have to work with you for 20+ years, sit in meetings with you, have disagreements with you, and so on. One can only imagine how important it might be to some of them to get a handle of someone's "true colors"--whether you are the kind of person who, when challenged, responds with hostility. And indeed, even if he wasn't testing me, another faculty search committee member openly remarked later on how much he liked the gracious reply to the hostility. Thus, I propose, when in doubt, even if it's difficult, be kind and gracious.
Suggestion 5: Bring snacks to eat
I've come across this suggestion on every campus-visit blog post I've ever come across, and wholeheartedly endorse it myself. You will be rushed from meeting to meeting, meetings may go overtime, you might be too nervous to eat much at lunch (since you will be talking the whole time), and so on. Bring snacks. For the last thing you want to do is be "hangry" or lightheaded during a meeting or presentation. Indeed, this is actual evidence that people--including judges--treat people less well when hungry. Don't be hungry!
Suggestion 6: You're interviewing them too
Yes, you may be desperate to get a job--and yes, this may be your only fly-out. But, for all that, I've found it is helpful to try to remember that you're not the only one being interviewed here. I've heard of people who have gotten TT jobs at places that made them so miserable that they openly wished they'd never taken the job. Part of what you need to figure out on the campus visit is whether you like the faculty, students, campus, city, and so on. For my part, I've been on more than a few fly-outs where I didn't like one or more of the above at all: places where the faculty seemed hostile, administration unsupportive, and so on. Moreover, in my experience, remembering that "you're interviewing them too" can have important psychological benefits. It can make one feel a little less desperate--a little more like their equal (something which, or so I have heard, is a really important part of the interview: coming off as someone who is a professional, rather than "merely desperate for a job, any job").
Okay, I guess those are all of my suggestions, and I hope some of you job-marketeers find them helpful. Anything important that I missed? Anything I got wrong?