“Why Fredonia?”

I’ve noticed that when someone applies for a job at Fredonia lots of people ask her, “Why Fredonia?” I’ve also noticed that it’s an enormous red flag if she responds, “Because I need a job.”

There’s something inside us that’s repulsed by such an answer. We tell ourselves it’s because the candidate should have done her homework on the institution, or that she should have some personal investment in it before applying. The very honest answer, “Because I need money, and this is a job that will give me money,” doesn’t cut it.

But let’s be honest with ourselves: Nobody is genetically wired to work at Fredonia. I know this because Fredonia has only existed since 1826, and genes have existed somewhat longer than that. We sell ourselves short if we think someone should have a predetermined investment in the institution.

I think what we’re really evaluating is a candidate’s ability to tell a story. We’re evaluating her ability to persuade using rhetoric. We’re seeing if she can sell herself to us, because if she can’t sell herself to us how will she sell herself to our constituents?

Let’s just assume that a primary reason she’s applying to Fredonia is because she needs money to go on eating and living.

Now, what story will she tell us on top of that?