In which issues concerning the profession of philosophy are bitched about
Well they did two rounds if interviews, which is unusual, but I'm not sure why it's shenanigans.
What I heard second-hand is that they had two rounds of interviews here at the APA: those who made the cut after the first round Friday interviewed in the second round on Saturday.
I should add (while waiting for my other comment to go through) that this post in extremely poor taste. If something egregious happened, something worth calling out a specific handful of interviewers, you should just come out with it. How unprofessional is this vague, anonymous insinuation of specific people, in a public and permanent forum?
I was asked by a SC member what nice flowery scented perfume I was wearing. I told him that it was my scented maxi pad. He asked me what brand. I told him. He said that he'd recommend it to his wife. It was an awkward conversation to say the least. He kept rubbing his whiskers and licking his lips while talking to me. I feel a little violated. I wonder if I'll get the fly-out.
Well, I didn't say something egregious happened. And since I don't have first-hand knowledge of said something (which I did not say was egregious), I felt it best to leave it to others to fill in the details, if said others were so inclined.But I was equally (if not more) interested in hearing about other stuffs. Like 4:41's highly interesting story. I am certain he or she will get that flyout! But tell me, did this exchange occur during the interview, or at the Smoker?
4:41 here,At the smoker. I'm a pre-op transsexual M2F. I usually wear maxi pad to hide the bulge. I of course did not reveal this during the interview, the smoker or in my application. Pretty sure he thought I was born female. If only he knew what was between my legs. We might not have had that conversation. Still, I felt violated.
@ 4:41 PM/6:17 PM - why not just reply "I'm not wearing any perfume, but thanks?" and change the subject to philosophy. The perfume comment is inappropriately personal small talk, certainly awkward, but explaining that it's your maxi pad seems, well, also inappropriate?
Kenyon College a few years ago did two rounds at the apa. It is pretty unusual. Maybe it is an Ohio thing?
4:41/6:17 here,8:16, you probably think that disclosing that I'm transsexual would be appropriate, right? I try to be as honest as possible notwithstanding disclosures that would trigger the implicit biases that so many old white heterosexual men in the profession harbor. I've never known anyone who was prejudiced against people who wear scented maxi pads. It's not like I told him what sexual positions I prefer. Now that would be inappropriate! His lascivious whisker stroking and lip licking really signaled to me that he had less than admirable intentions. Maybe I misinterpreted his body language. If I get the fly-out, perhaps I'll discuss the matter with his wife...or not!
Kent State had 8 people on the hiring committee who came down to Atlanta. They set up 2 interview tables, side by side, at the ballroom. They held simultaneous interviews for the same position--side by side. It, literally, meant that, candidate A would overhear candidate B's answers to some of the questions s/he was trying to answer. It was weird, and confusing. Candidates interviewing for the position were not made aware of this fact until the very last moment. Those who made the first cut on the Friday round, were then interviewed by all of the 8 faculty members Saturday. The whole thing seemed to have been planned haphazardly, to say the least. What do you think, smokers? Is this an OK practice?
ummm...I think 4:41 PM is joking.
I actually had a really enjoyable time at the Smoker and at the APA in general. It was great to see old friends, make new friends, and talk philosophy with really smart people.
4:41, I get that you're engaged in unsubtle mockery of the concerns of female applicants about inappropriate treatment. But if you're going to be boorish and insensitive (and not funny), could you stick to just one of misogyny or transphobia? Both at once only makes you a thin caricature of an asshole.
"What do you think, smokers? Is this an OK practice?"I interviewed with Kent State, and left with no interest in working there whatsoever. The two tables didn't bother me so much, as that they also seemed to know nothing about me, looked visibly disinterested in what I had to say, asked strange questions, asked them aggressively, and so on. Anyway, guess it was mutual as they didn't contact me for a second interview. Would have enjoyed turning them down, though.One reason to conduct interviews in a respectful manner is that you are hoping to work with one of the people interviewed.
If Kent State really did that, it's ridiculous. They deserve to be called out, ridiculed, and banned from doing it in the future. Did this shit actually happen? Does anybody from Kent State want to come in here and defend this absolute turd of a policy?On a lighter note, I had a really pleasant experience at the APA. Much of this was because I'm a smoker. I made some nice chat with the others smoking outside the hotel, and they were a friendly group. If your experience sucked, my advice for next year is: Light up!
The Kent State practice strikes me as unfair, insofar as one candidate's performance in an interview may be affected by the performance of the candidate at the adjoining table. Maybe the other candidate is doing great, and you feel you're not measuring up. Maybe they're bombing, and the level of palpable discomfort and flying flopsweat is so high it negatively affects you. Maybe you overhear the questions at the next table, and wonder if/when you'll get those questions, or if not, why not, both of which will make it hard to focus.Additionally, I don't much care for practices in which you only meet and interview with a fraction of the SC (I've had such interviews). Not everyone on an SC will have the same impressions of each candidate, or the same biases, so a candidate who draws SC group A might miss out on an opportunity to engage with someone in SC group B (who would have been a cheerleader for him/her).If nothing else, the dueling interviews must have been unnecessarily distracting. Ballroom interviews are difficult enough, with all the noise.Perhaps KS did it to save time, so they could interview twice as many candidates in half the time, and save the next day for round two. In that case, they should have sprung for a couple of suites, or at the very least separated the tables, to avoid the potentially negative effects on the candidates. Shenanigans.
@zombieI get it that there are all sorts of potential harms, but I don't see why it's unfair, insofar as the potential holds for all. Perhaps you think it's unfair because how you do will be determined by factors outside of your control, but that seems always true.
When I was on the market, Kent State had a reputation for some slightly odd-ball interviewing practices and I got an ear-full about it, having been fortunate to land both APA and on-campus interviews with them. I happen to agree that side-by-side ballroom interviews (as well as cutting down the pool and re-interviewing the survivors the next day) is odd, awkward, and uncomfortable. However, in fairness to the folks at Kent State, their quirky practices did not seem to me to arise out of anyone being inconsiderate or mean-spirited. At worst, it was a bit clueless. I found them to be, by and large, a very decent group -- warm and earnest. And of course it's always worth keeping in mind that there will be individual members of any department who would greatly prefer to be handling the interviews differently and who were outvoted. It's a lot harder than you might think to steer one's own department away from bone-headed practices. Again, I'm not endorsing the interviewing arrangement that Kent State has been described as employing. But, in case anyone is tempted, it's worth resisting the move from the suggestion that their practices could be improved and be made more humane to the implicit (and in my view, false) suggestion that they are jerks.
I second 2:04's cautionary words regarding the character of the SC members. However, I do think that having the two tables right next to each other was utterly stupid and, even if inadvertently, unkind. I suspect they asked for two tables and did not bother to ask that they be in separate parts of the ballroom. It this is correct, I hope they at least tried to get one of the tables reassigned when they realized the situation.I am also bothered by the short-notice second interviews. What if one could not make the offered slot for the following day? Just tough luck? It does, indeed, seem clueless.
Anonymous said...4:41, I get that you're engaged in unsubtle mockery of the concerns of female applicants about inappropriate treatment. But if you're going to be boorish and insensitive (and not funny), could you stick to just one of misogyny or transphobia? Both at once only makes you a thin caricature of an asshole. December 30, 2012 10:10 AMNot much of a caricature, really.
I've participated in APA open room interviews as a SC member and I have to say they are very distracting to everyone involved. I know this came about in part because of the problems of suite interviews but there has to be some other alternative.
1:25 -- what strikes me as unfair is that a candidate might be paired, so to speak, with another candidate whose performance will have a negative effect. So candidate A suffers because of candidate B. In another pairing, C will suffer (or benefit) because of D. This strikes me as different from the fact that in any group of separately interviewed candidates, some individuals will do better than others, and will be the ones to rise to the top after all interviews are completed. It strikes me as unfair specifically because, whether intended or not, the candidates are paired. If you are being interviewed alone, you rise or fall on your own. I think this is somewhat analogous to a situation where you are interviewing for a job, but at the last moment, you are told that you are being teamed with another candidate, and the two of you will be judged together. If you get paired with someone who brings your performance down, tough luck for you. if you get paired with someone who enhances your performance, you're in luck. Would that be a fair way to judge individual candidates? I should think not.So, since there is potential here for some candidates to negatively affect neighboring candidates who are being interviewed at the same time, it appears to me to be unfair. Perhaps KS expects the candidates to have nerves of steel, laser focus, and be immune to distraction and noise, so that the dual interviews have no effect. But I'd be surprised if even the SC members, who are not in the hot seat, were functioning optimally under the conditions described. (Which is not to say they are jerks. But their interviewing practices are, at best, questionable. And the kind of thing I should hope APA frowns upon.)
"I am also bothered by the short-notice second interviews. What if one could not make the offered slot for the following day? Just tough luck?"What bugs me about it is the demoralizing effect. Typically, you go to your APA interviews, and you can expect not to hear back for a while (or never, as the case may be). I don't think the quick turnaround here is an improvement, or a kindness, since interviews are hard enough without getting almost on-the-spot rejection at a time when you may still have other interviews, or a presentation, ahead of you.
@zombiesame dude here. given what we know about order effects etc, how a candidate judged is always influenced by irrelevant factors like who got scheduled before and who got scheduled after. i guess i just don't see how this is any *more* unfair.
Zombie,Candidates are *never* considered individually. Never. They are always compared: to each other, to faculty in the department, to past applicants, to grad students in the hiring department, etc. That is, there is no such thing as the judging of individual candidates. Keep in mind that, until the moment of the interview, all applicants are nothing more than selected information on paper. Applicants don't even become "individuals" until at least the interview. But maybe not even then.Further, that situation that might put one person at a disadvantage will put the other at an advantage. If you moved on to the next interview stage because of that advantage, would you give it up because it seems to you unfair? Would you ask the SC if the comparison between yourself and the sad fellow next to you who bombed is the reason why you advanced? Or would you walk away from the interview, quietly congratulating yourself for a job well done? (I'd like to meet someone who, advancing to the second round of interviews, turned down the second interview on the grounds that the comparison between candidates may have been unfair. I'm sure it all seems terribly unfair...until it works in one's favor.)I hate to say this, but nothing about the interview process is fair or impartial, and the applicants are never considered as true individuals; that is, they will *always* be compared to one another. The KS system only makes explicit what is otherwise implicit. Maybe it makes some people uncomfortable but, to be honest, the whole process is uncomfortable. KS may be idiotic, but it's no more or less idiotic than the rest of the process of hiring new faculty.
"I hate to say this, but nothing about the interview process is fair or impartial, and the applicants are never considered as true individuals; that is, they will *always* be compared to one another... KS may be idiotic, but it's no more or less idiotic than the rest of the process of hiring new faculty."At least we agree that it is unfair, although I think it is MORE unfair than the typical interview scenario.Of course candidates are compared to each other. That's a given, isn't it? I never denied that, nor do I claim that it is unfair to compare candidates. To compare candidates to other candidates is still to consider them individually, however. Obviously, given several potential candidates, some of them will be judged to be better or worse compared to the others. My complaint is that the KS practice of pairing, in time and proximity, two candidates leave both of them vulnerable to effects that others, who are interviewed one at a time, as is customary, will not be vulnerable to. But it is also the case that those candidates who get particularly unfortunate pairings will do worse than those who get fortunate pairings, so even within the KS process (leaving aside the typical interview process), the playing field is not level. Some, through happenstance, will get a more favorable position on the field than others. Presumably, one would want to create a level playing field in interviews, so that every candidate has an opportunity to rise or fall on her/his own performance and merits. I'll charitably assume that KS did not have bad intentions, and did want a level playing field, but failed, miserably, to achieve that goal.Finally, whether or not the KS process is more or less idiotic than other hiring practices is rather beside the point. Either it is idiotic or it is not. If it is, it is fair to criticize it. If the entire game is idiotic, it is fair to criticize the entire game. Have at it. But it strikes me that the KS process was, for a number of reasons, considerably worse than the typical one at a time interview. That is not to say that the typical interview is perfect, or perhaps even particularly good. But if the KS process is even worse than a typically imperfect interview, then the typically imperfect interview is preferable. That perfection has not been achieved in the APA interview process is no reason to think that just any interview procedure, no matter how bad, is acceptable, or immune to criticism.
I really don't think 714 and 718 are getting the problem. The problem isn't that there are all kinds of existing cognitive biases at play here on the part of search committee decisions. Some of those are unavoidable in the context of *any* kind of interview setting. So long as we are going to have interviews happen at conferences then some of these stressors and biasing factors will be at play. Departments who want to interview at the APA can do little about these kinds of factors (aside from educating themselves about them and trying to mitigate their effects). The problem that is being pointed out here is that KS' choice to have side by side interviews adds several *new* stress factors on the candidates themselves (not the committee) and that these stress affects will dramatically impact their performance. A candidate who would do just fine on the standard conference table-style interview might suffer from knowing that her competition is literally interviewing right next to her for the exact same position; worse yet this increase in anxiety on her part will be grounds for not inviting her to the second round of interviews if it is perceived by the committee as a fault. If this were just another unavoidable pressure or bias (again, so long as we are doing conference interviews like this some pressures and biases will be difficult to avoid) then there wouldn't be problem. But the crucial bit is that this new problem *is* avoidable. In fact, almost every other department manages to avoid it by *not* adopting KS' strategy. Given that this is a problem that can be easily avoided it is right to scrutinize KS for their decision. Again, the issue is that this creates a new set of problems for the interviewee that is liable to be noticed by the interviewers in unfair ways that could be easily corrected for.
"so that every candidate has an opportunity to rise or fall on her/his own performance and merits"The KS interview situation does this; you just don't like some of the "performance and merits" that might be considered.-7:18
I'm sorry, but this is one of the stupidest discussions I've seen on here. KS obviously wanted to interview as many people as possible. Think about how much it cost them to fly up, lodge, feed, etc., what amounts to a second search committee, never mind the additional time spent by the extra committee members. As a result, they were able to interview 2x as many people as most search committees. Good for them. I'm not affiliated with KS, nor am I on the market this year, but we hired last year and I was part of the search. There's no perfect solution to the hiring process. Personally, I'd skip the convention and just bring the best 5 or 6 people to campus based on the dossiers. I got outvoted on this approach last year. For me, seeing if candidates, who are obviously stressed and exhausted, can answer rapid fire philosophical questions is no test of whether or not they're a good academic or would be a good colleague.Anyway, I applaud KS for trying to interview more people. But for those of you who didn't like this idea, what would you do if you were on an SC? Start from the very beginning of the process. How would you design it?
@Zombie at 6:33:Yes,this is another aspect of this very problematic (and odd) procedure.
I was interviewed by KS. I didn't even realize they were doing two simultaneous interviews until later. The supposed problems of doing simultaneous interviews seem invented or at least overblown. Okay, so they probably should have had their tables further apart, just in case. The tone being taken here is silly and pedantic. (Transvestite jokes? The "demoralizing effect" of hearing back from committees sooner rather than later? This practice being "idiotic"? Keep it smart, guys.) I liked the fact that I got to interview there twice, I felt like I was getting and giving more of an impression that way. I second the comment above that described them as warm and well-meaning. They were a little bit light on the research questions, and there was some of what I think of as normal "interview awkwardness." But they seemed interested in what I had to say, and we had a conversation that included research, teaching, and even extra-academic interests.
A candidate who would do just fine on the standard conference table-style interview might suffer from knowing that her competition is literally interviewing right next to her for the exact same position; worse yet this increase in anxiety on her part will be grounds for not inviting her to the second round of interviews if it is perceived by the committee as a fault.True.But you still haven’t said why this is unfair. Ex ante, you have the same chance to get an advantage (or disadvantage) from the practice as anyone else. So I don't think it's unfair at all. It’s just ineffective, like most of the rest of the interview process, selecting candidates on the basis of characteristics that are largely irrelevant.
@9:56 I am an applicant. For me, interviews are a strong point. I can act poised even when I am uncomfortable and think on feet. So what I would suggest is actually not in my interest:How about get rid the rapid-fire philosophical questions? They don't mimic anything you need in philosophy except how you handle a Q & A after a talk. This quality is not really that on which your success in this job hinges. You have a writing sample, you have a CV, so that should give you enough of an idea of the candidate's philosophical acumen. So what does an interview tell you? If you can live with this person on your committees. How she would handle intra-faculty disagreements. If you get a sense you can trust this person in front of a classroom. So how about questions tend toward that?
"But for those of you who didn't like this idea, what would you do if you were on an SC? Start from the very beginning of the process. How would you design it?"What is being criticized here is the decision to interview two candidates simulataneously, side by side, within ear and eye-shot of each other. The remedy is not to redesign the entire hiring process from step one (which is not to say that the entire process does not merit reconsideration). The remedy is pretty simple. Get two suites and interview the candidates privately. Or, if you can't afford suites, get two tables at opposite sides of the ballroom so that the candidates are not RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. This remedy is neither odious nor impossible for the SC, nor does it limit the number of candidates they can interview. But hey, if you really want to maximize the number of candidates, just interview ALL the hundreds of applicants, all at once, debate-style. The fastest, most aggressive, loudest, most debate team-honed candidate gets the job. Would be a congenial colleague too, no doubt. (And screw those whiny candidates who complain that they spent hundreds of bucks to fly to APA for that one lousy interview.)
""so that every candidate has an opportunity to rise or fall on her/his own performance and merits"The KS interview situation does this; you just don't like some of the "performance and merits" that might be considered."It's not that I don't like it. Who cares what I like? It's that the so-called "performance and merits" you reference here are not relevant to the job. An SC could also evaluate candidates on their skill at bricklaying, but since the job of philosophy professor does not require skill at bricklaying, the performance in question would be irrelevant, and a poor basis for evaluation. I contend that, whatever "performance and merits" might stand out in the KS procedure are also irrelevant and a poor basis for evaluation.
Wow. I'm someone who actually is transsexual and in the profession. I transitioned years ago and am deeply private about my status--no one knows, in fact--and 4:41, you should know you're mocking people who actually exist in your profession.In fact, I get to hear all kinds of wonderful comments from people who don't know of my assigned-at-birth-gender. It's quite nice, actually, as I get to discover whether someone is a transphobic, misogynistic asshat without them directing such attitudes towards me. Keep that in mind, perhaps, next time you think you're making jokes that don't involve anyone in your immediate company.
Back from APA. 1st yea out. Learned that applying out when ABD is playing a sucker's game, but worth it in some cases - I know a few who got interviews as ABD.More than anything, though, I'm struck by the pedigree ceiling. I'm outside the top 30, and I've been told that there are certain jobs that will not consider me almost no matter what (two pubs in Phil Review might change things . . . but just might). Given recent market difficulties, and the glut of talented folks competing, the range of such jobs seems to have grown. The APA is now a place where well-pedigreed folks interview (I know there are exceptions, but these are not at all proportional to applicant numbers).I'm not bitter about this, since I believe pedigree often correlates with quality. So I know in many cases someone's success is explained by their goodness as much as anything else. But in my case the lack of pedigree is a very thick glass ceiling. I'm not at all sure what would enable me to break through it. I imagine I won't, and that if I get lucky it will be by getting hired at a school that doesn't care as much about pedigree. These exist, but we're talking about a numbers game, and the odds are significantly stacked against me.Don't go to grad school unless it's somewhere in the top 25 or so, folks.
"It's that the so-called "performance and merits" you reference here are not relevant to the job."I hate to break it to you, but most of the interview process is not relevant to the job. The vast majority of my time on the job is spent teaching, grading, or prepping individual lessons; nothing in the interview process evaluated those skills. Yes, they asked for sample syllabi, but mostly as a matter of course; at no point did anyone ask me about individual lessons, how I would grade, how I would handle student complaints, etc., all of which I do on a weekly basis. (And from what I've heard from others, many SCs don't bother with anything more than a surface treatment of teaching.)I gave a "teaching demonstration," but that was to faculty and department majors, all of whom were prepped for my "presentation," which in retrospect was more like a conference presentation than a classroom setting. Most of my students are non-majors earning a gen-ed credit; most of my students ask unrelated and/or stupid questions; my students never ask me about my research. My "teaching demonstration" bore no resemblance to actual teaching.The closest thing to job preparation that the interview evaluated was my ability to spend an entire day in meetings that have little to nothing to do with me. This, I later learned, was very useful, as once a month I spend most of a day in meetings that have little to nothing to do with me, my research, or my teaching.The entire process is a sham. Pointing out how one school did one thing that was not related to the job seems pretty small considering how worthless interviews generally are.
I get nervous when I'm alone and speaking with strangers, particularly when I'm of a different rank than they are. Knowing that another candidate is at the table next to mine interviewing for the same job would bring me comfort, as I would feel some solidarity with that other candidate. I'm sure this would make me feel more confident and that I would interview better as a result. Therefore, Kent State was the only university that conducted their interviews justly. The failure of the other schools to conduct simultaneous interviews is an injustice, as it grants unfair advantage to those candidates with psychological characteristics that are irrelevant to doing the job of a professional philosopher.
4:41 and 6:17.If this is a joke, fuck you. Seriously. There are trans women in the profession. What you've said is extremely offensive. I can't begin to express how angry I am with you.If you're serious, then what the hell? Why would you ever answer that way? It must be a joke. You're an asshole. Get the hell out of the profession.
10:10, why would it be ok for 4:41 to engage in either misogyny or transphobia? Why is either OK? EITHER makes them a very stark instantiation of "asshole." Both at once just makes them a particularly special brand of fuckwad. Misogyny is not OK. Transphobia IS NOT OK.
7:18Please learn the difference between transsexuals and trasvestites...and also learn that the latter term is offensive.
Zombie 6:23 ... I think you have it right ...This tactic sounds like new-school HR practices that have come out of the corporate world. I've seen it a lot outside of academia.You're supposed to get bonus points is you approach them for a reschedule and also it's a blatant test of how you can handle pressure and 'emergency' situations. (speaking from new-school HR practices)I've never liked these tactics as, to me, they speak to a culture of pressure and demands and poor ethics of corporations out there these days.I'm only mentioning this for possible perspective ... if any school was doing this sort of thing it may be coming out of a new HR approach. While it may (very slim maybe here) have some merit in high stakes corporate jobs, I don't see how it presents an accurate and clear judgment on finding a good teacher.Just two cents thrown in to the pot.
How about get rid the rapid-fire philosophical questions? They don't mimic anything you need in philosophy except how you handle a Q & A after a talk. This quality is not really that on which your success in this job hinges."Rapid fire" questioning is appropriate for all kinds of reasons including those you go on to mention. (Really, why "rapid"? The pace and breadth of conversation is normal, though as the stakes are much higher, the situation involves a lot of stress.)A big part of the job is being able to converse effectively, on your feet, about complex matters to colleagues, students and administrators. If you can't do that, on your own thesis, then this is useful information to a SC.
I wasn't at the convention, and know nothing about the KS interviews. But is it possible that the tables were assigned by the APA, and that the APA arranged them alphabetically? If so, blame the APA and not KS.
7:18 -- the differing experiences the candidates report here has a possible explanation -- the two sub-committees interviewing candidates behaved differently towards their candidates. Another explanation -- they just liked you better than other candidates.Not the only explanations, of course. And the plural of anecdote is not data. But if the committees are quite different in their demeanor, questions, personalities, etc., that is also a potential problem with the two-table, two SC interview process.
Kent State made a really bad decision, and I am sure that after the fact a critical mass of the faculty feel terrible. The issue is not the second round of finalist interviews, which is certainly a hiring department's option, but the side-to-side tables, given how horrific the job market experience already is for the candidates. KS must not have thought it through, or they must not have insisted on distant tables, or perhaps the APA refused and KS went ahead anyway, or perhaps it was all arranged and there was a snafu on the day of the event. In any case I feel really bad for candidates who maybe had just one interview and whose shot at a job was affected.
Actually, I am sure that after the fact a critical mass of the faculty did not feel terrible, because they have been doing interviews in this way for years. When I interviewed with them, they gave me quite the spiel on just what is so good about their unique way of interviewing...Actually, this year sounds better than when I interviewed. That year, they had adjacent tables and one of the faculty members at my table left to switch places with one from the adjacent table - immediately after asking me a question. So, back then, they were switching interviewers mid-interview...
12:34 responding to 1:52 -- if that is right, then I stand corrected. Ugh.
Everyone seems to be ignoring Zombie's second criticism of the KS process, so here it is again: it is demoralizing to be interviewed and rejected, so publicly, on the same day -- especially as you're trying to keep your spirits and confidence up for a process that needs positivity and enthusiasm. KS knows this, but obviously figured, "screw those losers, we don't want them anyway." I agree, job hunts suck, the process is unfair (I'm past it, thankfully), SCs can be cold and callous. But that's no reason not to call out the most horrifying extreme of the cold and callous spectrum. It's also useful to know this about certain departments...
It's demoralizing to be rejected three weeks later. It's demoralizing to be rejected on the same day. Whatever. I guess I'd rather reduce the suspense time, personally. If it's good news, I want it as soon as possible, and if bad news at least it's less of a come-down if I haven't been getting my hopes up for weeks.
I interviewed with KS a few years back. A branch campus interview.Tenure is awarded through the main campus, so they get a say. There were 8 or 9 people at the table during the interview. It was odd.But then came the on campus. Even more strange. You interview at both campuses. Give two job talks, teach two classes, and meet with lots of people. It was a three day event! And the branch campus job wasn't a good as the main campus job. That is, it paid less, and you had to teach more. As for not getting invited back the next day. If you can't deal with rejection, then you shouldn't be looking for a job as a professor.
While I agree with those who have pointed out that the KS approach was not unfair or unjust - concepts philosophers ought to be careful with - I still think it is problematic in a variety of ways. One that I mentioned is the problem of having to respond to a short-notice request for another interview whatever one's plans for the next day might have been. It's possible KS only asked a very few people for the second round and, so, could be highly flexible, but I suspect someone had to do some scrambling.One thing I do not understand is why a desire to interview lots of people requires this system. We have interviewed up to 20 candidates at one APA. It was a grueling three days for us, but that 's part of the job. Maybe KS was able to interview even more folks? (And, yes, I recognize that the longer folks are at the meeting, the higher the costs. But many of us stick around for more than just interviewing anyways.)I do think being able to have all of the department members on scene is desirable, but I'm not sure it has as much merit when they are not all speaking with all the candidates. I would love to hear about what KS claims to be the merits of their system.
I'm one of the earlier folks who called the Kent State practice idiotic. Here's what I want to make clear: what I was calling idiotic was the fact that the two interview tables were next to one another. That's the part that any HR professional will tell you is unprofessional and will seriously damage your efforts at hiring the best candidate.The rest of it was quirky, but fine. Doing two rounds? Weird, but not out of bounds.
I hope none of you wasted your time applying for the BGSU philosophy of mind position.
11:03-I didn't. I assume what I thought was up turns out to have been up.
BGSU puts up job ads year after year, and almost always hires internal candidates, former grad students and friends of friends. Same goes for their themed seminars. It's a pretty incestuous place.
How long does it typically take a search committee to contact candidates about on-campus visits? I'm sure there is quite a bit of variation, but what's the usual range?
11:39: Whatever history BGSU has, none of those things are what happened in this case. Yes, it was a dummy job ad, but you're mistaken about the reasons why.
@11:39 Aren't we all friends of friends?
What was BGSU's deal this year, then?
2:45 -- if the SC chooses you for a flyout, you would probably hear pretty soon. Flyouts typically happen mid-to-late January to mid February. Typically, but not always.If you are not invited for a flyout, you may never hear from the SC again. (Oh yes, it happens.) Or you will hear from them after they have made an offer and it has been accepted, so, not until spring. Those are the best, especially when the letter informs you how pleased they are that So-and-so has accepted their offer. Generally speaking, if you haven't heard from them by the end of this month, you're toast.
Given the expense of attending the APA and the (I assume) significant percentage of job-seekers who have but one interview, it would be decent for hiring institutions that are doubling up on candidates interviewed to make that fact known with the initial invitation.
BGSU was supposed to make two hires last year. They advertised two jobs. Because of a bit of administrative bs, they couldn't hire one of the people they settled on. The only way they could do it was to advertise the job again this year and hire the person this year. But neither the person they hired last year nor the person they are hiring this year fall into the categories above (well, perhaps 'friend of friend', but as 4:08 points out this is a pretty meaningless accusation).
Also, and then I'll stop harping on this, because I have no horse in this race, a quick glance at the BGSU faculty shows zero people on the tenure track with degrees from BGSU. And yes, a number of adjuncts/lecturers. Isn't it pretty standard for depts. to offer such jobs to their former grad students? It seems to me to be, judging from how many people I know who have failed to initially land TT jobs and end up as lecturers at their home universities, either temporarily while re-trying the market or even for the long term. So if BGSU is doling out these jobs to their students, they aren't alone, and also, it's unclear to me why there is anything wrong with this practice. And if you meant TT jobs, you appear to be wrong, at least about the "own grad students" portion of your claim.
My two cents on the Kent State episode: there's nothing wrong in principle with the idea of having two tables and two rounds of interviews, especially if it allows more candidates to get interviews. However, their execution (if accurately depicted here) shows an astonishing lack of consideration on their part. If putting the two tables next to each other was their idea, that was just cruel. If it was an oversight, either on their or the APA's part, how hard would it have been to move one of the tables? It is just a bloody piece of paper with a number on it, for crying out loud, which easily could have been removed from the centerpiece and switched with one from another table. Finally, why not warn candidates before the APA of the potential for a second round? I see no justification at all for KS's carelessness.
5:55 AM/6:12 AM:My issue (such as it is -- I knew those involved and the situation, so knew that I shouldn't waste my time) isn't with departments doling out jobs to former students, spouses of those already on the faculty, etc. My issue with BGSU is with their advertising the position as if it were a genuinely fair national search.
For what it's worth, when I interviewed with Kent State several years ago, they told me when they called me to invite me to the APA interview that they would be doing two rounds of interviews there and so I might get a call back. They were also very accommodating in scheduling my second interview time, working around the other interviews I had. I had numerous problems with their overall procedure, but thought that they handled it as well as was for such a system.
Man, this is a message board filled with friendly happy people. Glad to see the market isn't turning us into crazy folks. Just writing to say that Kent State wasn't the only dept. that had the double table set up. In fact I interviewed at KS and another place that had the same set up--I too didn't even realize that KS had the double tables. I'm reasonably perplexed as to how it's unjust to the candidates to do have such a set up. Everything is so loud that it's hard to hear anyone else speaking. But even if you think it's unjust (which strikes me as severe) it's a bit odd that we single them out. That said, I did think they were the worst people to interview with but it's just because one of their members had a look on his face like he was ready to punch things. Perhaps relatedly: he wasn't the sharpest interlocutor. At one point he said 'well, you said p and p is false but we should move on', to which I replied 'I argued for p and gave the following premises that supported p as the conclusion. Which premise do you disagree with?'. Awkward staring commenced. Just made me feel bad for his colleagues, the rest of whom seemed like reasonable and interesting folks. Needless to say, I didn't see them on the second day...
I assume you are not the person who I was directing my comments to. That was 11:39. I agree that the practice sucks, but I also think we ought to refrain from blaming departments for it, since it seems to me that it is crazy for a department to take the time and money to advertise, deal with receiving hundreds of applications, and so on, if they've already settled on a hire. So I suggest these fake searches have to do with administrative issues (as they do in the BGSU case) and are not a reflection of anything negative, dishonest, or non-accommodating on the part of the departments themselves. In this case I think the department actually acted in a really upstanding way by going to bat with their administration about the candidates that they wanted to hire, and figuring out a compromise that worked for anyone. So my only beef is with people who are complaining about the department itself (e.g. 11:39). It's not even like a job was lost this hiring season--it's just that last year, there were two jobs, and the official hiring for one had to wait until this year. There would have been zero available BGSU jobs either way.
Related to flyouts. My first flyout was a summer 12'. They only flew 2 people out. It took them over 4 WEEKS to get back to me with a 5 line rejection letter from HR. I had to email the head of the search committee as well and ask what was going on (no response from him). The rejection letter was postmarked the same day the email was sent. Coincidence? Probably not. Had a skype interview last month. I was told that they were only interviewing 8 of us out of 150+ applicants. They also told me I would know before Christmas either way. No contact as of yet. I realize they didn't want me, but why the hell wouldn't they just tell me? There were only 8 of us for fucks sake. I think it's time to start calling out the head of the search committee on a public forum. Start naming names.
Blacklist BGSU and KS...both suck for mistreating job applicants. Or at least name and shame them...as we've done.
"My issue with BGSU is with their advertising the position as if it were a genuinely fair national search."But, of course, they have no way of tipping off potential applicants that this is the case. I still think, however, that shamming a national search is unethical all the way down. Think of the Interfolio fees, hope, disappointment, stress that must get paid by applicants who don't know the nature of the position. I realize the blame must get laid at the door of the HR departments that require national searches, but if the purpose of the national search is undermined by there already being a preferred candidate, then the benefit of the national search requirement is virtually non-existent, while the costs to applicants seems to me prohibitively high.
"I still think, however, that shamming a national search is unethical all the way down. Think of the Interfolio fees, hope, disappointment, stress that must get paid by applicants who don't know the nature of the position. I realize the blame must get laid at the door of the HR departments that require national searches, but if the purpose of the national search is undermined by there already being a preferred candidate, then the benefit of the national search requirement is virtually non-existent, while the costs to applicants seems to me prohibitively high."I agree 100% with this and can assure everyone that BGSU's ad is not the only sham job in the JFP this season. I, for one, am pissed that my department's search is absolutely a sham as well and for similar reasons (the department already knows who they want but the University requires a national search for this type of position). So perhaps this would actually make for a good discussion of its own: What is the point of conducting sham national searches? Who is benefited by them? I take it that the answer should be that departments should not be conducting sham searches at all but that would require a fundamental change to how many searches are conducted.
Except that BGSU used AJO. So there are no (marginal) fees to the applicants, and very very very little (marginal) time involved.Even if you think it's a "sham" search, just apply. "Inside candidates" might not work out for whatever reason. Spousal hires might not work out if both partners find better jobs. It's a lottery ticket anyway. Your chance of getting a generic job is like 1/300 without an inside candidate. So what if it's like 1/1000 with an inside candidate? That really doesn't seem a significant change to me, on an absolute scale.Look, I understand these are frustrating times -- waiting for, and sometimes not getting, interviews and such. But with both BGSU and KS people really seem to be blowing things out of proportion.
Pro-tip: just think as a default that for any job you apply to, you won't get it. Then you'll experience a lot less hope, disappointment, and stress.
I suspect folks already know this and are just bitching (which is okay, I like to bitch too), but it's worth a reminder:"Sham" national searches are done for a variety of reasons, some of them legit. HR and legal often require departments to conduct a national search, even when there's an inside candidate. If they could just hire the bum without a search, they'd do it. But their hands are tied.Plus, sometimes these "sham" searches turn into real ones. I know several people who have gotten a job by outperforming the inside candidate, or cases where they got a job after the inside candidate took a job somewhere else.
"Pro-tip: just think as a default that for any job you apply to, you won't get it. Then you'll experience a lot less hope, disappointment, and stress."That's certainly a way to guard against the emotional costs, but then it's very hard to justify spending 300-400 dollars on a project that one genuinely believes will end in failure. But then again--maybe that's the only realistic position to take.
Not quite, 3:01pm, because that position is compatible with you getting *some* job, or at least *some* interviews. Events, conjunctions, probabilities. Blah blah.So you should still apply because you might get some job (probably for completely esoteric reasons), but you should not be upset by the outcome of any particular job (due to, surely, completely esoteric reasons).
The Warren Wilson job is a sham as well.
Agree with 2:15. And in the case of BGSU, it might actually be a state law. Ohio has fairly aggressive sunshine laws, which might well include nationally advertising for faculty positions.
"So you should still apply because you might get some job (probably for completely esoteric reasons), but you should not be upset by the outcome of any particular job (due to, surely, completely esoteric reasons)."So you should apply for each individual job thinking there is zero chance you will get the job, but still apply for jobs, because there is some positive probability you will get a job? How does that work exactly?
No. You should apply to each job thinking there is an extremely low likelihood -- roughly 1/# of applicants -- that you'll get that job. For Barnard, that's ~0.001; for Podunk U, that's ~0.01. On any reasonable way of going from credence to belief, you shouldn't think you'll get the job.But what's the likelihood of you not getting any job if you apply to 60 schools like Podunk U? It'd be (1 - (0.99)^60) = ~0.45. Okay, you probably still won't get any job, but you'll probably get an interview. Cheers.(Obviously, these events aren't wholly independent, but the gross simplification will do here.)
I'm interested to know: Did the BGSU people (and other departments who are known to be advertising a position in order to hire a candidate who has already been chosen) go as far as to conduct interviews with other candidates? This would strike me as genuinely crappy practice, especially if the interviews were conducted at the APA, where there is an expense associated with showing up for an interview. If no interviews were conducted, I must say I feel some sympathy for the departments, given their hands are tied by HR rules.
"if the purpose of the national search is undermined by there already being a preferred candidate"I understand why some people might be upset by the notion of an inside candidate who is already the preferred candidate, but you're kidding yourselves if you think this is somehow not the case *for just about every search* anyway.That is, in many cases, the first read of applications will turn up a preferred candidate. It's not at all uncommon for SCs to look at the applications, agree that one person is *the* stand-out applicant, and then go through the motions for the rest of the search. In both cases, the preferred candidate may not take the job, or may at some point over the course of the process be out-shined by someone else. Preferred candidates- inside or not - can blow it at any point during the process, opening the door for someone else.In short, the fact that, sometimes, the "preferred candidate" is identified one step earlier than in most other searches, really isn't a big deal. At what point, in other words, you do think the "preferred candidate" should be identified? After the first interview? The campus visit? Keep in mind that the whole process involves eliminating non-preferred candidates at every step.*Note: I am saying that "preferred candidates" aren't really an issue worth complaining about. There is a difference between identifying who you want early on, and secretly offering the job to someone before the sham search is even conducted. For instance, a couple years ago someone I know applied for a job at X University, and another in the same area ay Y University. He was excited, because there was someone in his exact area of X University, and thought that he was contributing to an expansion of that sub-discipline. What he learned the following year, however, was that the job at X University he applied to was the one being vacated by the more senior scholar in the sub-discipline, who just "happened" to get the job at Y University. He learned that Y University ran the sham search to hire the professor at X University, which was given the chance to replace him before he left. It was bogus, and those searches are a terrible practice. But they are not at al the same thing as having a preferred candidate in mind while running a search.
The fact that laws/procedures require national searches can be a leveler. I was hired against an internal candidate who then (I found out much later) complained bitterly that the process went against him. I have since participated in hirings where the presumptive internal candidate was not hired: as a SC head I once had to tell such a candidate face-to-face that he didn't get the job after all. But to make things more complex here, in that very case we lost that hire to poaching from Clemson, and we went through the same process and finally hired the original internal candidate, who not only earned tenure, but is an outstanding colleague. Things are complicated, yes, but at least the requirement for national searches is a titration against familiar caustic traditions of the profession, and that requirement can cut both ways.
This was my first year on the market and I was lucky enough to get a couple of first round interviews. My impression, though, given the number of very high-quality candidates I know who did not receive an interview, is that the pickings were pretty slim this year, maybe even more so than in previous years. But I'm not sure about this. What do other people think? Was it worse than in previous years this year?
I've been following this blog for about a year and a half now.I just want to share one observation of mine after reading most everything posted on this blog. We philosophers are extremely naive people. We expect the good ole American "do your best get the job" kind of fairness out of all this. But, of course, as every single person who posts here would agree, it is not fair. University administrations are corrupt and inefficient, SC's are even more corrupt and incompetent not to mention they are composed of people who are obsolete professionally and who have inferiority complex against young and bright people. But guess what, all fields inside and outside academia are so corrupt. Perhaps more so than philosophy. Welcome to the brave new corrupt world! Oh wait, it has been corrupt for millenia, right? I always forget...So, as philosophers, we must wake up and smell the shit! For 9 out of every 10 of us, our dream of making a living doing philosophy is over. We will have to do other things, perhaps become lawyers, those of us with interdisciplinary work may find work in social studies, psychology, or other programs, while others may have to work at coffee shops or macdonalds, and yet others may choose to escape to a farm or island to live off the land. The last option seems to me to be the best :)There is only one thing I wish to ask SC's and field leaders to do. Please, pretty please, with sugar on top, think about what you are doing to your beloved field... By your own admission, you are making it one of the worst fields to get into for young people. Perhaps you wish to tell them to live on the street on donations by kind strangers who like a little philosophy chat on their way to their corporate job... Because, to me that seems to be exactly the kind of indifference and hidden pleasure you have of your young colleagues' misfortune at your hands...
"Did the BGSU people... go as far as to conduct interviews with other candidates?"Yes. I don't know if what is being said about the BGSU search in the comments here is true or not. But I do know two people who had fly-outs for the position. If this was a sham, then shame on Bowling Green.
My understanding is that BGSU went straight to fly-outs, and completed them well in advance of the APA. Given the situation forced on them by their administration, I'm not really sure what they could have done better.
I, for one, would think it's pretty awesome to have the chance to present my work in front of BGSU faculty and students, all expenses paid, even if I don't get the job. As I see it, the flyout is still a net positive for the other candidates.
9:40 writes:But, of course, as every single person who posts here would agree, it is not fair. University administrations are corrupt and inefficient, SC's are even more corrupt and incompetent not to mention they are composed of people who are obsolete professionally and who have inferiority complex against young and bright people.Thanks for this. You have led me out of the cave into the light -- the truth is blinding: I am corrupt and incompetent and have an inferiority complex. I didn't know until now that one could have an inferiority complex against anyone, but as I behold the form of corrupt incompetence such details matter not, for I grasp the terrifying truth, a truth that every single person who ever has (and ever will) post here will find, if only s/he dare look -- or be compelled to behold. Now, I'm off to wield the immense power I and other corrupt and incompetent search committee members have to destroy the profession and the dreams of the bright young philosophers whose talents I find so threatening. I'm at once indifferent to and pleased by their misfortune, and can only say this as I walk away.
@Glaucon As a SC member you have the time to come on here, read the comments, and respond. Yet, you, like other SC members, don't have the time to send a generic email telling candidates that their applications are no longer being considered? Incompetent seems too soft.
Glaucon has effectively expressed my own amazement at 9:40's comment, but I think it is worthwhile to point out how sill such a view is.If you do not think all members of the profession are concerned about the job situation, you are woefully blinkered. Not only do we want academic philosophy to thrive, we also have students we would like to see enter the profession.And, no, most of us are not the least bit cowed by today's young brilliants. We do recall, with some discomfort, when we believed ourselves to be the young geniuses that all those old folks feared. Believing oneself to be the cat's meow is probably natural for [many] people at a certain stage of life. Turning that self-confidence into vitriol towards others is neither natural nor morally defensible.
A simple way to solve the problem of applying to schools who are considering internal candidates would be to simply state this in the job advert. In big, bold letters: "Internal Candidates Are Being Considered" Then, those who want to apply know what's going on from the beginning. Along with BGSU, I know of two other universities that hired internal candidates. One had to do with immigration laws that require them to advertise the job every year. In this case, the guy was already working there. But they were required to post the job for 10 days regardless.
@1:31 -- Can you really think that it's up to individual committee members to act on their own in these matters? How could you possibly know an institution's policies about notifying candidates, what committees have decided about these matters, what stage of the search process my department is in, etc. such that you'd deem yourself competent to pass judgment? When did search committees become the enemy? Honestly, I get that people need to blow off some steam, but the angry, self-pitying, entitled bullshit on display in some of the posts here is just mind-boggling.
Most people in the profession are aware of the problem but are unwilling to make a personal sacrifice that would move us closer to resolving it. Personally I plan to resign once I get tenure, to make room for the next generation of philosophers who want to enjoy the thrill of being in a TT position. I feel that it is my duty to do so. I know that I'm in the minority. But I'd rather move on to a real profession, working year round and making more money, than become deadwood as so many tenured faculty do. I challenge 9:40 and others like him to pledge that if they secure a TT position, they will resign after earning tenure, thereby making room for a younger, brighter philosopher to take their place.
I did a fly out interview a number of years ago for a place that clearly intended to hire the internal candidate. It became very clear during the interview that this was the case, as no one was interested in doing more than socialize with me, to the point that the dinner was obviously a social event for the faculty and their spouses. But not all schools are like this, some are forced to conduct a national search, yet also take the search seriously. I took my current job from an internal candidate.
I think the issue of internal or otherwise strange candidates/shenanigans deserves its own thread. How common are these practices? How often does the internal / shenanigan candidate actually get the job? I'll start: At my university we have made six hires in the last decade or so. Five of those were internal candidates who essentially had the position in the bag before the process started. The other was, indeed, a candidate that outshone the internal candidate and was offered the position instead (the internal candidate was kept on and eventually given a position anyway when funds were available). In most of these cases it has seemed absolutely unfair to the essentially non-viable candidates that we fly out but the institutionalized power here is not sensitive to these concerns. I actually assume this is somewhat common though (the process I described above) at institutions like mine: smallish SLACS without much name recognition. Am I right about this? What say other smokers?
Glaucon wrote: Honestly, I get that people need to blow off some steam, but the angry, self-pitying, entitled bullshit on display in some of the posts here is just mind-boggling.Amen.4:49 wrote: I actually assume this is somewhat common though [hiring inside candidates] at institutions like mine: smallish SLACS without much name recognition. Am I right about this? What say other smokers?Not one of the last three hires at my smallish SLAC was an inside candidate. I'm genuinely surprised to hear that departments make a practice of this.
"When did search committees become the enemy? Honestly, I get that people need to blow off some steam, but the angry, self-pitying, entitled bullshit on display in some of the posts here is just mind-boggling."Is it really that surprising? One of the effects of this thin job market is this turning on one another. If we were amid a famine, those who didn't get enough food would turn on those who did as well as those who decide who gets what food there is. These people aren't responsible for the famine, but in the absence of a legitimate party to blame, we would blame whoever is close to hand. The same goes here--the SC members, the candidates who get interviews and jobs, are not responsible for the job scarcity, but those that are responsible are nowhere to be seen. I'm not saying the blame is legitimate--it's certainly not. But the phenomenon shouldn't be surprising. We are indeed amid a famine of sorts.
1:31 here. @GlauconMy point is that SC in general want to get back to their research and not bother with eager job seekers. I get it, they have shit to do. But once you give us a little hope by granting us an interview, common courtesy dictates that you notify the candidate of the outcome. I have had 1 fly-out, 2 phone interviews, and one skype interview. Not one institution has called/emailed me back. The fly-out institution took over 4 weeks to get back to me and this was AFTER I emailed them. I got a 5 line letter from HR which started out with "Dear Applicant" I'm sorry, but this is BS. If your department has the decency to not keep candidates waiting, then congratulations. But it seems you are the exception, not the norm. I'm not angry, just shocked that so many of my potential colleagues are jerks.
Yes, 940's comments are a bit over the top. However, the general point is that SC members ought to be more transparent. I don't think us job seekers feel entitled to a job, but I think the majority of us feel that we are entitled to know what the hell is going on. The UK process is very transparent: straight to fly-out and you know your ranking very soon after. The problem is that the majority of people in our profession have never held a job outside of academia. They genuinely don't know how to interact with potential candidates since they rarely hire. I worked in business after my undergrad. The process while I was looking for a job was very transparent. I was often notified within a few days after interviews. I don't think that is too much to ask.
Anon January 1, 2013 11:39 AM's comments are false.
@Anonymous 7:07Care to expand?
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