I already have an offer for a TT job at another institution, but I received an inteview offer from a school I'd really like to work for. I was told (twice) that they didn't like two of their first three candidates and that they'd like to inteview me if the one they liked fell through.
They told that they'd have an answer as to whether or not I'd interview on Friday by Wednesday. Which turned into Thursday. At about 5:45PM on Thursday, I was called by one of the committee members to offer me an inteview for Friday. (I am currently visiting faculty here, so the turnaround is possible if really inconvenient and hard to swing.) I agreed, excited. But it occurred to me during the conversation that I should ask if I could safely assume that the first candidate fell through, and I was told I could not!!!
I was flustered, continued the conversation, finished it. I then calmed down and emailed very shortly after and said that I could not accept the inteview until I could actually be considered in contention for the job and that I should have immediately said so upon learning that my assumption that the first candidate had fallen through was not correct.
Has anyone heard of such things happening? Getting a backup lined up outside of the first round of invites to campus interviews after an offer has already been put out?
They know my clock on the other offer expires soon, so I know they're scrambling to make sure that they could consider me should the other candidate fall through. But I was told that the interview would only happen if the candidate did fall through.