Let me follow up on one thread of this discussion where some unpleasantries were exchanged. Again, I am only drawing on my own experience conducting searches.
When I am involved in a search, I am genuinely interested in finding the best candidate for the position. That involves making as accurate an evaluation as possible of the candidate's research (actual and potential) and other qualities as a colleague. I do not think that it serves this purpose to treat the process like the compulsories of Olympic figure skating. (Oh, she wobbled on the landing, that's a .2 deduction. Oh, the candidate had parsley on her tooth, that's a .3 deduction.) I would be very surprised if most other don't proceed in the same way. (When I was on the job market in the 90's, one of my fellow job-seekers discovered that s/he had submitted a writing sample with "Freeedom" in the title. It did not seem to do any harm. One distinguished senior philosopher sent him/her a funny short essay on the importance of distinguishing true 'freeedom' from mere 'freedom'.)
That said, I think it would help all job seekers to have some sense of what it is like on the other side. Conducting a search is a full-time job for six weeks. Even with all of that, we can afford to read the writing samples of about 25% of the applicants. This means that we have to eliminate the majority of candidates before we even look at the writing samples. So we definitely read the files looking for reasons to throw them on the discard pile.
I have been involved in about 8 searches in past 10 years. During that time, I have read the work of a lot of young philosophers. There are many excellent philosophers whose work I first got to know through this process. I admire and respect them. Unfortunately, even among those whose work I admire and enjoy, the vast majority will not get job offers from us.
That was the lead up to a confession. When I and my colleagues are immersed in files, pretty much every waking moment spent sorting through the pile, it is as natural to talk about them as it is to, e.g. complain about the weather or the republicans in congress. Sometimes we say things that are disrespectful of the candidates or make jokes at their expense. I recognize that this is not ideal behavior, and I would be mortified if any of these got back to the candidates. But it is pretty much impossible to work that hard, become that immersed in the process, and always comport oneself with the utmost seriousness of purpose. (Many of you may be familiar with this from grading stacks of papers.) But I do make every effort not to let such joking affect our treatment of the candidates, or evaluation of their work.
Good luck to those of you applying for jobs, I wish you well.
I think that the phenomenon to which professor Hitchcock alludes is unavoidably human and something to which job-seekers themselves are not immune. We here at the Smoker are, after all, fond of mocking job ads and rejection letters. And I think it is basically harmless if it is successfully compartmentalized in the manner in which Hitchcock suggests.
However, I worry that it is often not successfully compartmentalized. Over the years, people claiming to be search committee members have written in comments on this blog and its immediate ancestor about how such things as typos, copy-and-paste errors, spelling errors, and what they perceive to be the applicant's attitude about the various job-market procedures function for them as criteria for automatic rejection. To take Prof. Hitchcock's grading analogy, it is one thing to complain about a student's spelling errors and to take those spelling errors into account when assigning a grade. But it's something else altogether to say, Anyone who would spell 'catigoracle emparative" that way doesn't care enough about my class to deserve an A.