In our open job-market thread, an anonymous job-marketeer writes in:
I am wondering whether search committees tend to be forgiving when candidates botch (badly) one interview question out of very many. Suppose the entire interview went perfectly and the candidate nailed absolutely everything to the point where the search committee seemed like they were pitching themselves to the candidate - but then, in one of the candidate's last answers, s/he couldn't for the life of her answer a question about how to teach a course that was (admittedly) listed in the ad, fumbling through the answer and then honestly saying she'd need to think more about that course but would be excited to develop and teach it at institution X. Is this an immediate deal breaker?
I think this is a good query for a couple of reasons. First, it raises good micro-level questions that many candidates probably wonder about: does flubbing one question in an otherwise good interview "tank" a candidate? If so, when? Second, it raises some good macro-level questions: how do search committees judge candidates in an interview? What kinds of things reflect well on a candidate? What kinds of things are clear negatives and/or "disqualifiers"?
Any search committee members out there willing to weigh in?