Thursday and Friday of this week are the department's recruiting weekend. Having done these as a recruit, as well as the recruiter, I have a couple tips for recruiting:
1. Don't ask where else they are interviewing
This is my pet peeve. I can understand how this shows interest in a recruit, which one should do, but it comes off as incredibly insecure.
I see the recruiting process as an extended first date. The recruit and the department are trying to get a sense whether their interests are aligned, and whether they both feel they are of equivalent status. Both parties are trying to impress each other, while making it look effortless. And of course, as on many first dates, the recruit is visiting other departments and the department is interviewing other recruits.
So when someone asks, "Where else are you interviewing," I hear, "Are you seeing anyone else?" Which is a good way to avoid a second date. If you are interested in a recruit's science, and want to get to know more about them, you can ask, "What type of science are you interested in?" It doesn't matter what other departments they're visiting, because this one is the best.
2. Don't talk about science
I've been doing post-doc interviews lately, and most of the interviews are consumed with science, both mine and the lab I'm visiting. It can be fun to show off my research, and most people are excited to talk about their own research. After a few hours, though, it gets tiresome. At the end of the day, I've been overloaded by new concepts, and I'm getting tired of going over my boilerplate. Any conversational respite is appreciated.
I can only assume it's even worse for the recruits. Their interviews are two days long, and instead of interviewing with one lab, they see four. When they finally get around to talking to grad students at lunch or the after-party, they're usually exhausted. So when you talk to them, ask them about sports, movies, or short track speed skating. Anything but science.