I want to sympathize with the pseudonymous John Lemuel, whose first-person essay in the CoHE details his undoing by search committee. Or, rather, his self-undoing by search committee. Mr. Lemuel, it seems, is not overly gifted with tact:
If I hanged myself anywhere, it was in that interview. I made a strong case all right. At best I implied that the committee members would be dumb for not keeping me. At worst I did worse than that. Being a popular professor and suggesting concrete improvements are dandy if that's what the committee is looking for. If the committee likes the status quo and doesn't care to be upstaged by an upstart, say goodbye.
From this paragraph, it would appear that Prof. Lemuel has confused making "a strong case" with making oneself obnoxious. I know, I know: all search committees are really staffed with mediocrities, desperate to protect themselves from the scintillating rays of superior youth. It is not, however, immediately clear why Prof. Lemuel thought a job interview was the right place to air his suggestions for "concrete improvements"--a tactic he describes as being " smart when pleasant might have served me better." What, exactly, was "smart" about this? Committees have certainly been known to ask for such suggestions, especially if the t-t line's purpose is to revitalize a moribund track within the program. Prof. Lemuel's account, however, makes him sound presumptious, not perspicacious--even though he had been teaching there for a bit. In most quarters, it's considered civil to refrain from constructive criticism of a potential employer when a) said criticism has not been requested and b) you have not yet been hired.