A little while ago, I got a nice but impersonal PFO letter from the HR department of the school that interviewed me at the APA. They wrote to let me know that I didn't get an on-campus interview, that they hired somebody else, and to encourage me to apply for other positions at their institution that might interest me. Of course, I already knew I didn't get the job when I didn't get the on-campus, and I knew I didn't get the on-campus when the wiki said other people were invited to campus and I didn't hear from them. Also, when the hire was announced on the Leiter jobs thread, that was a clue, too.
The thing that made this one stand out is that, at the interview, the lead interviewer specifically said that I would hear from them either way by a certain date. They made a point of saying that this wasn't going to be one of those things where they drop off the face of the earth. I didn't bring it up; they did. They went out of their way to emphasize it. This struck me as unusual. And then they dropped off the face of the earth, and then six or seven months later I got a form letter from their HR department.
I find this really galling, but maybe that's the wrong attitude. Maybe I should lighten up about this. It happens all the time, after all. But that's exactly what's so galling about it. This disregard for job applicants is such a normal thing that if you mention it whenever it happens then you end up mentioning it all the time—so much that you're the one who's annoying. And I don't want to be someone who doesn't find that galling.
But that doesn't mean I don't realize that I'm somewhat of a broken record about this. I realize that I write about it all the time and have been for years. You're probably sick and tired of reading my complaining, whiny posts about it. I feel the same way, frankly. I'm tired of this. I set this post aside several times as I was writing it. Not only have I said this a billion times before, but I can't imagine I'll ever say it better than I did here. What's the point?
Nevertheless, it seems to me that how search committees treat job candidates is a basic issue of some importance. So allow me to just reiterate. If you conducted a search this past season, you really ought to contact the people you interviewed but didn't hire to let them know you appreciate that they took the time to meet with you and to wish them well. You should especially do this if they spent their own money to travel to the interview. You should especially especially do this if you told them you would. You should definitely do this if the interview involved a trip to your campus. If you haven't done this already, you should do it now. If you are only doing it just now, you should probably also apologize for having taken so long to get around to it. And if you're not sure whether you've done it, you should make sure. It's only the decent thing to do.