When I was on the job market, I had an interview at a school that was ranked much higher than the school at which I accepted a position. Because the school was also in a less-desirable location I thought at the time that if I had received an offer I would have had a difficult choice between that school and my current employer. Of course, I didn’t have to make that decision but I did wonder about the candidate who was offered the job. In the fall I checked the websites of a few schools that had interviewed me in an effort to see who had eventually been hired but none of them had been updated.
I had forgotten about this curiosity until a few days ago when something reminded me of a faculty member at one of those schools and I returned to the websites to look again. Regarding the position at the highly-ranked school all I can say is that I apparently never needed to worry about making a choice because the person that was hired has qualifications that far exceed my own, to the point that I am not sure why I was interviewed at all. Of course, even at a highly-ranked SLAC there is the potential worry on the part of hiring committees that a promising candidate will accept the job only to leave after a few years and continued success, but the gulf between my modest C.V. and that of this other person causes me to question whether they would have offered me the job even in the event that all other candidates declined.
In the end, I suppose that there are two ways to look at this situation. The first is that I never had a chance (all the more reason not to spend time worrying about things that you cannot control while on the job market). The second is that my meeting with this department at the ASA Employment Service and my relatively interesting dissertation topic carried me much farther than I expected them to. Of course, the most charismatic person in the world is no match for a killer C.V.