Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Interviewing while female


I recently underwent diversity training at my university. Good times. Part of the course materials included a paper on gender bias in hiring, which contained a list of recommendations for institutions (for avoiding bias in hiring decisions), but also included the following evidence-based recommendations for women seeking employment (to help them counteract bias and implicit bias in hiring decisions). As we often get questions on the blog about things like interview attire, family status issues, etc., this seemed pretty relevant as we approach the interview season. (My posting of these recommendations should not be construed as an endorsement of any of them. I can't say that I ever did any of these things, at least not consciously. If you're interested in the reasons for the recs, read the article.)
Recommendations for female applicants
● Provide some evidence of communal job-relevant behaviors (e.g., being helpful and sensitive to the needs of subordinates)
● Indicate clear evidence of competency (e.g., resume, third-party endorsements) but avoid appearing self-promoting in an interview
● Do not show anger or discuss previous job-related situations that made you angry
● Best to avoid feminine-scented perfume, but wearing masculine-scented perfume may be beneficial (although you would need to pretest the scent to ensure that it is considered “masculine”)
● Avoid revealing parenthood status until job and salary are secured
● In your initial application, if you have a female-gendered first name, consider using initials only, and if you have a gender-ambiguous name, consider removing gender-identifying information
● Strive for an “attractive” but neutral appearance for interviews or application photographs. Avoid interviewing in overly feminine clothing (more masculine clothing and facial features may be beneficial)
● If you are visibly pregnant, it might be wise to obscure it with your clothing
● Avoid tentative speech patterns (e.g., use of intensifiers such as “really” and “definitely,” hedges such as “I guess” or “sort of,” and hesitations such as “well” or “let’s see”)
("Interventions That Affect Gender Bias in Hiring: A Systematic Review." Carol Isaac, PhD, PT, Barbara Lee, PhD, and Molly Carnes, MD, MS Academic Medicine, Vol. 84, No. 10 / October 2009)

These are basically about countering implicit and unconscious bias -- bias the discriminator doesn't even recognize as bias -- and many of them are common sense. Probably best to avoid ranting about your previous scumbag employer, although apparently, that goes double for women. The issue of self-promotion, and avoiding it if you're a woman, clearly points to a double standard. Talking about your work in a non-self-promoting way in a job interview is going to require some real verbal finesse. Hiding an advanced pregnancy would be pretty hard for a lot of women. Some of this advice seems, on the face of it, kind of offensive. You might well ask yourself why women should have to hide a pregnancy or wear "masculine" perfume (AXE body spray anyone?). (Although if you ask me, just don't wear perfume. That goes for you guys too.) But again, this is about getting past implicit bias.

And I'll tell ya. The interactions with others in the diversity workshop revealed a level of ignorance about gender bias, and what constitutes bias, and what is legally permitted in interviews that was pretty eye-opening. You might think that people actually taking a workshop on diversity would not publicly say crazy shit that is discriminatory, sexist, and racist, but they do, and I'm going to guess that it's because -- despite efforts to re-educate them -- they just don't know better. Which is just to say that sexism is alive and well in academe, and forewarned is forearmed. Some of this advice probably applies equally well to minority candidates (use initials if you have an "ethnic-sounding" name, don't show anger, etc.). I have not been able to find comparable practical recommendations for countering racial bias, but I'll post it if I do.

~zombie


Mental Health Break

"Waiting Season" is in full swing, and those of us on the job market are in prime stress-out time, so let's take a little break and collect ourselves.

This one's a classic, obviously:



And if you don't like that one, maybe you'll like this one:



And if you don't like that one, maybe you'll like this one:



And if you don't any of those, this is your last chance:



Stay warm and get interviews, Smokers!

--Mr. Zero

Monday, November 26, 2012

A new thread

Anonymous requests:
Report where people have been getting 'intriguing' Google searches to their website. Or how often we have been checking to see whether that has been occurring (*sigh*).
Or anything else. Please dear God, anything other than what this thread has deteriorated into.
Sure. Open thread. Newbie questions about APA, interview scheduling, or whatever. Have at it, girls and boys.

~zombie

Monday, November 19, 2012

Interview Miscellany

Some interesting things emerging from this thread. 10:41 writes,
A few years ago (maybe 4, I don't recall), we had an applicant come straight from the airport. He was a mess. He admitted to us that he tried to minimize how much time he'd be on site, so flew in the morning of his interview with us, and was flying out the next day after another interview.

We asked if he'd rather reschedule for the next day (that's when he told us about his plans to fly out the following afternoon after an interview), and then offered to give him a few hours to get himself in order (we offered to interview him at the end of the day). He refused, and said he'd rather just get it over with.

He failed miserably. He couldn't concentrate, and screwed up the answer to every question (including the "tell us about your dissertation" softball). Despite being very strong on paper, we simply couldn't consider bringing him out to campus after such a terrible interview. I wonder what he would have been like with a good night's sleep and a hot meal.

I know this is not really about the original post, but I want to note that you simply cannot overestimate the importance of a good night's sleep and a hot meal. If there is any doubt, try and stay the extra night. Get there the day before your interview, and if you're planning early, get there the day before you might be expected to be available for interviews. Yes, it means spending a little extra money; and maybe because of the realities of grad school/adjuncting, a little extra money is a big deal. Lie, cheat, steal, share rooms with friends, do whatever you have to do. This is your career, and the difference between success and failure just might be a good night's sleep and a hot meal.
This is exactly right. Interviews are hard. You have to be at your best. That means well-rested, well-fed, and not harried from a recent, highly stressful air-travel clusterfuck. Don't take yourself out of the game by not being at your best.

To which 7:03 adds,
10:41's comment underscores the absurdity and injustice of this whole arrangement. It is not only that we must make (very) expensive plans to travel to a city during the holidays when we may or may not have any interviews there. It is also that we must do this in an even less economical way than we might have--staying 3 nights instead of 1, for example--in order to allow for the possibility that schools will want to interview us at any time during that window. And, of course, if that's not true at all, or if we have only one interview, we learn of it too late to make any difference.

This is my 4th year on the market. I have a good VAP job, and know how to navigate the gauntlet that is APA logistics pretty effectively. And even so, I am forced to spend money that I don't have (since my institution's travel funding is limited, due to state budgeting issues). I am, more and more, wary of institutions that--despite all that we know about the financial burden the APA puts on grad students and junior/underemployed philosophers--continue to interview at the APA. There are other options available, and I'm glad to see that more and more departments are choosing them.
This is also true. I realize that not everyone agrees, but there is no reason to hold interviews at the APA anymore. Skype interviews are not at all ideal, but they're a hell of a lot better than $650 to fly to Atlanta and another $100 a night to stay in Atlanta plus food and expenses. And while we're on the topic of a good night's sleep and a hot meal, how about a good night's sleep in your bed and a hot meal that was prepared in your kitchen? Or, like, your favorite restaurant in your town. Or something.

--Mr. Zero

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview Days?

An anonymous Smoker asks:

I am planning on purchasing flights for the APA in advance in the hopes of avoiding higher prices later. What assumptions are safe to make about when interviews are held during the conference? Should I assume that an interview could be on any of the four days (27-30th), or just the two full days (28-29th)? It would be nice to avoid the expense of unnecessary extra hotel nights.
I've never had an interview at the APA that wasn't on the 28th or the 29th. My sense is that it's fairly unusual for interviews to be scheduled that first day, and maybe a little less so for the last day. But you'd probably be pretty safe if you were to plan to be in town for just those two days.

That said, I wouldn't want to plan to arrive on the 28th for an interview on the 28th. Flights are always late, and you want to be rested and non-harried on the day of the interview. You probably knew that, though.

What say you, Smokers? Am I wrong?

--Mr. Zero

Monday, November 12, 2012

Is the Phylo Wiki Still the One?

In comments here, anon 1:07 asks:

phylo sort of got eclipsed as a job listing, but are people still going to be using the wiki?

My plan was to continue using the Phylo Wiki, unless it was unusable for some reason, or everybody else stopped using it, or there was some better wiki out there. And although it's a little early for the wiki to be in full swing, it seems like it's still pretty usable, people are using it, and there doesn't seem to be any better wiki. (Is there?) Let's extend our continuing gratitude to David Morrow and Chris Alen Sula for letting us use their wiki.

One question, though. I seem to remember that the Phylo wiki had a color-coded interface. Is that not happening anymore?

--Mr. Zero

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Auditing Courses?

An anonymous Smoker writes:


How important is course work to SCs? More specifically, does auditing (say) half a dozen courses add any value to one's CV? Does it look bad to a SC if a job candidate specializes in X but hasn't taken a course with a prominent X specialist on X from his or her department? Auditing courses is fun and often helpful for developing one's own ideas, but I'm wondering whether my time is better spent elsewhere.

I could be wrong, by my guess is that auditing courses adds nothing of any value whatsoever to one's CV. At my Ph.D.-granting institution, there were literally no requirements of any kind involved in an audit--you didn't even have to show up. The seminars you actually take for a grade, and for which you must do the reading and the writing and participate in whatever other ways are required, don't count for much of anything on your CV--you wouldn't think that someone was prepared to teach an upper-division undergraduate course on ancient skepticism based on the fact that she'd taken a seminar in grad school (would you?)--and audits are worth even less.

So--and again, I could be wrong--but I would say that auditing a seminar here and there might be good for your personal edification, or good for your dissertation when the topic connects with your research somehow. And some people (and I include myself here) do well with a little added structure in their lives, and having a seminar or two to plan things around can really help them stay organized and on task. But as a line on the CV, I can't see how an audit would be worth anything at all.

--Mr. Zero