Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Man Who Wasn't There

I mentioned that I've been fortunate enough to have had a couple of nibbles this job market season. However, and I'm not sure whether this is unfortunate or fortunate, none of the nibbles required me to go to Boston. So I did not go to Boston. So I am not in Boston.

Once I realized that my presence in Boston would not be required, it occurred to me that it might be more pleasant to take an actual vacation with Mrs. Zero, and not spend any time thinking about how fucked up the situation in Boston is. Or writing about it. So that's what I did. It was fun.

But anyway. If you were going to Boston, I hope you got there safely and that your interviews have gone well. And if you tried to go to Boston but didn't make it, I hope you're still safe, that your interviewing departments do the right thing and make arrangements to interview you via Skype or phone or something, and that the APA does the right thing and refunds your registration fee. And if you weren't going to Boston at all, like me, I hope you're enjoying the break and not feeling too bad about the fact that your presence was not required in Boston. At least you avoided the Boxing Day Blizzard APA Clusterfuck of 2010.

--Mr. Zero


Anonymous said...

I wasn't there either. Then again I already have a TT position. I personally think that those 4 days are better spent working on your scholarship and/or with family. I'm not very sympathetic to the whiners. You know, you can decline to interview at the APA meeting. You can request an alternative (such as a skype or phone interview). If the institution is truly interested in your candidacy, the search committee will accommodate. In other words, you do have some power.

a whiner for whom there is no sympathy said...

The last anonymous comment said:

"You know, you can decline to interview at the APA meeting. You can request an alternative (such as a skype or phone interview). If the institution is truly interested in your candidacy, the search committee will accommodate."

This strikes me as a terrible, terrible idea. The last sentence operates on the assumption that SCs are rational agents. But SCs are not - they are politically fractured entities composed of several overworked, probably irritated people with distinct interests and preferences. It's very rare that everyone on an SC "is truly interested" in any particular candidate, and one false step by a candidate might be used by the dissenter(s) to torpedo that candidate's chances. Making (what might be perceived as) demands about the conditions of interview would precisely constitute such a false step, especially in the present buyer's labor market. Would it be irrational to reach a decision on that basis? Of course. But see the initial point about assuming SCs to be rational agents.

Anonymous said...

I'm not particularly sympathetic to complaints about the Eastern, either. The philosophy profession has more important things wrong with it than how interviews are generally conducted. But if Skype interviews would make many more candidates happier, I have no problem adopting that type of practice as the standard.

In any case, I don't think that candidates have much "power." If my department is conducting interviews at the APA, we expect candidates to be there unless they have a very compelling reason not to (e.g., disastrous weather, debilitating sickness). We might be "truly interested" in a candidate, but that doesn't really matter as far as our early process is concerned.

Of course, candidates have always had the power to opt out of dealing with departments that are not as accommodating as preferred. But the reality in a buyer's market is that candidates have fewer decent alternatives, while departments have more good good alternatives.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, we were quite happy to accommodate any candidate (and we had a couple) who was not going to be at the APA for interviews. It'd be interesting to hear from other folks who are on SCs to hear if they'd be unwilling to or if this would count against a candidate. I think it'd be the rare committee who wouldn't be willing to accommodate.

But I've been accused of being naive before.

CTS said...

My dept would probably be happy to make arrangements for someone who could not make it to the dog and pony show. But, I can see several problems:

1) The person who is not interviewed under the same circumstances as the others might be either disadvantaged or advantaged in problematic ways. For example, what if not all the SC members can accomodate the special interview date?
2) If it became very common to have to split up the process to accomodate those not going to the APA, SCs might become less accomodating.

Anonymous said...

A question about Boston interviews: only half of search committee X was able to make it through the blizzard to my interview. But other candidates with later interview times were interviewed by the entire committee. Am I at a relative net disadvantage, or is this not a big deal?

Anonymous said...

As a former SC member, I find that the minority rarely rules, unless the minority has a great deal of power over the others, which usually makes them members of a concurrent majority (those who will easily bend to the preferences of the minority for fear of consequent retaliation--usually this minority/concurrent majority is led by mean-spirited administrators). But to use an analogy, when you walk into a bar to pick up a girl, the odor of desperation will often scare all but the most desperate away. If you walk into the situation with the air of someone confident who has plenty of options (maybe even a wedding ring on your finger) then you will be an attractive candidate. As a member of a SC, I was always more attracted to confident candidates who had a sense of their own power, rather than those who seemed desperate and disempowered.

zombie said...

I thought the point of this blog was to complain about APA.

I went to APA. I had interviews. I think they went well, and I was in a position to be accommodating to one SC member who was stuck in an airport, and needed to postpone the interview for 5 hours.

I went to my first smoker, and had a good time talking to the SCs. It was good.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:51 and Anon 10:33: From one TT philosopher to two others, I would like to point out that I suspect your stance when it comes to your lack of sympathy for the whiners was likely quite different when you were forced to attend the Eastern APA on pain of unemployment. How quickly the comfort of employment and salary erodes one's legitimate gripes and principles. I, for one, have no sympathy for your respective dickish decisions to express your "lack of sympathy" on a blog dedicated to giving a voice to folks who are struggling for work in the shittiest market in recent memory. May your new years be filled with shame and smugness. Thanks nonetheless for reminding those who aspire to be professional philosophers what not to allow to happen themselves if they're fortunate enough to find a job. Now, pretty please piss off.

Anonymous said...

Right, 6:01, you're principled. Legitimate. You aren't whiny and self-absorbed. Principled. That's the ticket.

Anonymous said...

10:33 here @ 6:01PM

No doubt, we have different priorities. I hardly expressed mine in a meanspirited manner, and I tried to be constructive. You've added nothing--other than exmpty expressions of solidarity with the less fortunate.

Anyway, the feeling you've directed toward me is mutual, I guess.

Anonymous said...

To 3:48: do you mean to say that if I have a better chance at your hiring me if I wear a wedding ring? To begin with, that is illegal. It is also indefensible. Maybe I'll borrow my brother's wedding ring to fool you. Maybe I don't have a wedding ring because it is illegal in most states for gay people to marry one another. Maybe you like to see the wedding ring because you think it assures you the candidate is no fag or dyke.

Anonymous said...

As a SC member, I prefer a candidate with a proven track record. One who already has a TT job is always better than one without. One with 8 plus years of teaching experience is always preferable to one without. One with 7 plus publications is always preferable to one without. In this respect, the single woman attracted to the married man metaphor is apt. Or the single woman attracted to the confident well-hung alpha male. It's too expensive to run a search to risk hiring an inexperienced candidate.

Anonymous said...


Umm, read again. Clearly, the original poster is not saying that you ought to wear wedding rings to interviews. Instead, the original poster is saying that you ought to wear wedding rings to bars insofar as you want to pick up, you know, people you are not married to. For interviews, you should instead drop heavy hints like arriving late and say "phew, that Harvard interview sure was tiring. Which school is this again?"

Anonymous said...

8:37, huh?? Are you by any chance the same person who posted that passive-aggressive shit about wedding rings giving off options and confidence? Married, well-hung alpha males as an "apt metaphor" for a good job candidate?

Anonymous said...

9:12, I think 8:07 was joking. Also, 'married' would correspond, in the analogy, to 'employed', wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

Message: If you're not employed (married) or uber-confident (alpha male), then you might as well give up on the job market, you don't have a chance in hell!

Anonymous said...

>In this respect, the single woman attracted
> to the married man metaphor is apt.
> Or the single woman attracted to the
> confident well-hung alpha male. It's
> too expensive to run a search to risk
> hiring an inexperienced candidate.

And philosophers wonder why their field is perceived as the last, sterile, preserve of a bunch of fucking white male jackasses bent on preserving the illusion of their own smarts.

CTS said...

Just in case it helps:

Last year (hiring round), we had a couple of folks we thought looked perfect for our position. At the interviews (yes, face-to-face) we discovered that both - definitely aplpha males - were total jerks.
We ended up not bringing either alpha boy to campus and hired a brilliant and charming guy.

Yes, there are people and departments who seek out the alpha-asshole (pardon). They deserve one another.

Anonymous said...

8:07 here
To 9:12: You're right, I'm wrong. I misread 3:48.
To 12:12: no idea what you are talking about. I'm the opposite of someone who'd think alpha males deserve hiring before others.
But I do think that thinking less well of a job candidate in respect of hiring him or her because s/he seems desperate is a very poor way of sizing people up.