Thursday, December 5, 2013

The annual interview prep post

The interview skeds seem to be gradually filling up. My impression this season is that a lot of departments are offering alternatives to APA in the form of Skype/phone/remote interviews. Some are offering both, which, I guess, should raise concerns about the Skype interviewees being disadvantaged when compared to real live desperate philosophers. (See here, here, and here for Skype tips, and here for a defense of Skype). But, weighing the costs of going to Baltimore vs. staying home for the holidays, many will opt to stay home and try to become a Skype-master. If you ask me, a significant advantage of remote interviews (aside from cost) for candidates is that they allow you to be a little more relaxed, since you can do the interview in a familiar environment. APA interviews, whether you're in the ballroom or a suite, have added tension built in, since the setting is foreign, uncomfortable, noisy (in the ballroom), and smells of flop sweat. There's all that awkward time waiting outside the door (should I knock? are they running late? are my palms sweaty?). I'll be interested to hear how many of you are being offered Skype type interviews in lieu of APA interviews.

And increasingly, it seems some departments are forgoing first round interviews altogether and skipping straight to the campus fly-out. So, if nothing's happening for you yet, there's still time.

For those of you visiting scenic Baltimore, or chillaxing by the warm glow of your internet tubes, it's pre-game time.

Last year's post linked to previous years' advice and question preps, so start here.

When I was last on the market, I was surprised at how often I was asked about my dissertation, even though I had moved on to a different research project, and had a few publications under my belt. I guess that's a search committee asking everybody the same questions, but I didn't really prepare myself to talk about the diss 2 years after it was finished. So, even if you're a few years out... probably should prepare to talk about the diss. Or be prepared to gracefully duck the question by quickly segueing into how X relates/led you to your current research on Y.

Good luck to all of you!

~zombie

107 comments:

Anonymous said...

> The interview skeds seem to be gradually filling up.

Oh, fuck.

Anonymous said...

Are other people's dance cards really filling up already?! I have yet to hear anything. Am I alone?

Anonymous said...

Are other people's dance cards really filling up already?! I have yet to hear anything. Am I alone?

Nope. I am in the same boat. From an unranked program, one top 10 journal publication. 40 applications sent. Not a peep. But then, I don't expect to get any interviews. I will likely be leaving academia and looking for minimum wage work after the new year.

Anonymous said...

I single interview here. I think it's still early. Next week and the week after should be primetime.

Anonymous said...

Are people finding the wiki generally accurate this year? Looking at that thing, most of the big time interviews have not gone up yet.

Anonymous said...

7:30--

No complaints with the wiki so far. I applied for approximately 40 positions. About 7 have interviews scheduled, so I'm still waiting anxiously on more than half of them.

zombie said...

There is still time -- interviews get scheduled until right before Christmas, typically.

Anonymous said...

I do think schedules for interviews will be different this year. Many smaller schools now wait until after the holiday break to schedule interviews esp. if they are doing 1st round Skype interviews and never had any intention of doing the now dying Eastern APA route. Once you unhinge yourself from that process there is no reason to have to schedule some of these interviews so early.

Anonymous said...

i know this isn't the plan b thread, but i can't let anon 6:34's reference to "minimum wage work" go without comment.

while i hope you land something this year, if it turns out that you do not, then take a look at the analyst jobs offered by the cia. this would be better than years of minimum wage labor (unless you happen to like that sort of thing). they have a virtually unending job search for competent analysts, not to mention other lines of work (like being a fucking spy and shit). but the descriptions they provide for the analyst jobs suggest that they are exactly the type of work for which a humanities phd would be prepared and which, i suspect, would also be intellectually satisfying. and, just to get it out there, this line of work is probably no more morally odious than a job in academia.

i gather that there are two catches, however. you have to relocate to dc. and the job application process, nevermind the fact that it is grueling, takes between one and two years. i know people in other disciplines who took this option. with the languages and contacts they acquired during graduate school as well as their familiarity with certain countries or regions of the world, they were qualified for more hands-on work. i've looked into the cia option myself, but, for personal reasons, i am presently unable to relocate to dc.

Anonymous said...

I've sent out about 65 applications and have had/have schedule 3 interviews so far.

I think (hope) that most schools have not yet started scheduling.

Anonymous said...

folks getting interviews: update the wiki!

Anonymous said...

I'm on the job market for the first time, coming from a ranked, but not top 10, program. I applied to a total of 63 positions (including postdocs, etc.). So far I have 3 interviews scheduled. Two asked for Skype interviews in December; the third gave the option of an APA interview or a January Skype interview. I figure places that are conducting Skype interviews in December are probably going to be the earliest to contact candidates, so I'm not sure this means anything in terms of the total percentage of schools doing Skype.

Also, the majority of the jobs I applied to are open specialization, but all three of those I have heard from were specific to my area. The wiki appears to me to support the notion that open jobs are being slower to send out interview requests, perhaps because they have more applications to look through.

zombie said...

By my count, there are 34 discreet positions that have been updated on the wiki. philjobs.org lists 172 jobs (I think). So, still lots of fish in that sea.

Actually, anyone figured out how to figure out the number of new 2013-14 jobs on philjobs? If you include expired ads, it numbers in the thousands, which obviously represents more than 2013-14.

Anonymous said...

6:34: You really oughtn't give up after one year. Even if you miss the boat on permanent positions there's still the VAP lecturer market in the spring. Adjuncting is awful and a dead end, so don't do it if you can help it. However, VAP and lecturer jobs generally aren't bad and they're often a good first step to something better. Honestly, no matter what you did your chances of getting any TT job coming directly out of a non ranked program were always on the slim side. I think these days if you come out of any program not in the top 25 you ought to count on doing on postdoc or working as a VAP or lecturer for a bit before you land a TT job.

William James said...

"By my count, there are 34 discreet positions that have been updated on the wiki."

They can't be that discreet if they are being updated on the wiki!

Anonymous said...

In response to Mr. Zombie's 3:49 post regarding the number of tt jobs this year: yes, if you do a search of the tt jobs and include the expired ads, you get the whole list. But the jobs appear to be listed in chronological order, so you can do a count.

I started with the Hamilton job posted on 7/31 and counted 231 tt jobs for this year. There appear to be 100 job listings per page.

Someone should verify this number.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 8:19 here again. Make that "Ms." Zombie!

Anonymous said...

When I was hired my department did 15 APA interviews; the search committee members had such disparate preferences that they interviewed each members' top 5 choices. I was told that after the APA interviews they were in complete agreement about which 3 people to bring to campus, namely the 3 that could offer clear, coherent answers to one question: "Can you tell us about your dissertation?" So yes, prepare for questions about that.

zombie said...

Discrete.

Viewer discretion advised. Whither the lost e?

In any case, do not be discreet about updating the wiki, which is up to 35 discrete updates to date. Still many discrete, and possibly discreet, jobs left.

Anonymous said...

I was told that after the APA interviews they were in complete agreement about which 3 people to bring to campus, namely the 3 that could offer clear, coherent answers to one question: "Can you tell us about your dissertation?"

Some call this the victory of the interview process. Others might call this the swamping of lots and lots of relevant information by one relatively small piece of ambiguous data.

Anonymous said...

Not all interviews are the same:

At a teaching school, a committee might spend ten minutes of a fifty minute interview talking about your dissertation and future research

At a research school, they might spend ten minutes talking about your teaching.

But being able to explain your dissertation is a plus in both instances.

Anonymous said...

6:32,

I think you are misunderstanding the anecdote, as well as the interviewing process.

The anecdote is not evidence that *only* the answer to that question mattered. It does not suggest that the SC tossed everything else in favor or that one question. I can also suggest that, with everything else being equal, those 3 people excelled in one area that other applicants did not.

Also, the interviewing process is a process by which applicants are winnowed down to one hire. The process is equal parts "looking for someone who does things right" as it is "eliminating people who do things wrong." Whatever else happened, N-3 people did something less well than those 3 applicants, and it cost them.

The point of the anecdote is not that the dissertation questions matters more than other aspects of the process, only that it can matter just as much. And by the time applicants reach the interview, any one part of the process can be used to reduce the applicant pool and identify the finalists.

The interview stage is a playoff system, not the BCS bowl selection committee. One loss doesn't merely drop you in the rankings; it knocks you out of the playoffs entirely.

Anonymous said...

I've been on many SC (including a presidential one). Any question you are asked matters. Some questions matter more than others, depending on the type of institution and the kind of person the SC is looking for. However, not being able to give a decent answer to a question - whatever it is - will always be a clear negative. I'm at teaching college. We don't care that much about your research. But if we ask about your dissertation and you start mumbling incoherently, it tells us that you probably won't be able to teach complicated things to students. If I was at a R1, failure to answer that question well would likely indicate worse things.

Anonymous said...

The interview stage is a playoff system, not the BCS bowl selection committee. One loss doesn't merely drop you in the rankings; it knocks you out of the playoffs entirely.

Descriptively, this is accurate. The point that it is a strike against the interview process that it has this feature.

Anonymous said...

@10:50

If that's a strike against the interview process, isn't it a strike against the entire system of competition for jobs? No matter what criteria or procedure you use, once you're at the short list stage you have t pick something that will favor one candidate over the other.

Unless you've done a really horrible job sorting out dossiers, you're not going to be able to narrow the field just by rejecting those who are objectively unqualified for the job. You have to pick which qualified candidate to select, and imagining that there's some non-arbitrary way of doing so is, at the stage, just a fantasy.

Anonymous said...

Good luck all. I'm pulling for you.

Anonymous said...

But if we ask about your dissertation and you start mumbling incoherently, it tells us that you probably won't be able to teach complicated things to students.

Does it? I wonder. I'm skeptical that how someone responds to questions on skype or in a hotel room when feeling stressed and intimidated tells us much of anything about how they'll talk to students.
I'm not really criticizing you personally -- I think this is a dubious sort of inference that's just accepted by the profession.

Anonymous said...

10:50,

Thanks. I am always proud of my sports analogies.

I have long believed that we should have a draft process, as is done in professional sports. Leiter already ranks major universities; let's rank them all.

Here's how it would work:

All universities would be categorized by tiers, much like BCS conferences (or professional sports divisions). Within each division, individual universities would be ranked. We could do the rankings based on publication output, or some other arbitrary standard. (Since this will never actually happen, let's all pretend that we agree on a standard for ranking.)

Tiers would then be ranked. Now we get a master list of all programs.

As with professional sports, where the team with the worst record drafts first, here the lowest-ranked school would draft first, up through the highest-ranked school (which would draft last). Given the vast riches of talent, we would never have to worry about there not being enough talent to draft from.

As with professional sports, hiring programs would be required to do scouting (conferences become the scouting combine, publications are like highlight reels). Obviously, many top programs would only scout top programs; nobody in the NFL is sending scouts to watch DIII football. But this is where smaller schools could effectively scout for under-appreciated talent. Princeton may not scout outside of the PGR top 50, but smaller schools certainly could.

But, I hear people asking, what about people who have graduated? How do they get scouted? This parallels the international market in the draft. You can play basketball in Europe and still qualify for the NBA draft, provided any team cares what's going on in Europe. (This is another place where smaller programs could score talent with a great deal of upside.)

The obvious benefit here is that the entire cost of the job market falls on the hiring programs. They want to replace talent, they have to scout and draft. The obvious detriment here is that, like the professional drafts, if you don't sign with the "team" that hired you, you go undrafted. There is no such thing as competing offers, and you need to hope for the best in the next draft (or, as with the NFL, we could do a supplemental draft, for off-season positions).

Honestly, it can't be any worse than we have now. And it could be a lot more entertaining, if we could ever get ESPN to broadcast it.

Anonymous said...

@3:25

Oh, I think it's perfectly fine as an inference. Is it fool-proof? No, of course not. I'm sure there's someone, somewhere, at some point, who got nervous for some reason (perhaps Skype) or other and fumbled. But's that the exception, not the rule. As a rule, if you can't explain a topic you've worked on for years in a coherent way - via Skype or in person - a SC member is going to be worried about your ability to explain complicated concepts to 18-20 year olds. Remember (especially at a teaching college) we're hiring you primarily to explain things to 18 - 20 year olds, mixed in with a lot of service and a little helping research on the side.

3:25 said...

Oh, I think it's perfectly fine as an inference.

I know you do. But I don’t think there’s any good basis for it.


I'm sure there's someone, somewhere, at some point, who got nervous for some reason (perhaps Skype) or other and fumbled. But's that the exception, not the rule.

Is it? That’s what I’m questioning. I think we should not assume there is *any* correlation between how well someone answers questions on Skype or in a hotel room under a unique and rather bizarre type of intimidation, and how they answer questions from their students.

As a rule, if you can't explain a topic you've worked on for years in a coherent way - via Skype or in person - a SC member is going to be worried about your ability to explain complicated concepts to 18-20 year olds.

I know they will, but I think they will be inferring badly.
The problem is that they are drawing conclusions about a person’s ability in one situation from evidence about that person’s ability in a very different, very strange situation.


Remember (especially at a teaching college) we're hiring you primarily to explain things to 18 - 20 year olds, mixed in with a lot of service and a little helping research on the side.

Exactly. You aren’t hiring me primarily to explain my dissertation to 50 year olds in hotel rooms or on Skype when they hold the keys to my future in their hands.

Anonymous said...

The interview stage is more like NFL combine. There are tests that evoke implicit biases, like judging an athlete based on how they look in a photograph or the notoriously unreliable wonderlic test. There are also tests that tried to track some underlying abilities, e.g. 40-yard-dash, that turned out to be very poor predictors of on-field success.

Yet teams still rely on the unreliable and misleading tests because they are conservative. And conventional wisdom tells them to show up to the combines.

Anonymous said...

5:43. Give it up.

Explaining your fucking dissertation is not some Herculean task, nor is it unreasonable for search committees to expect you to be able to explain it…in any sort of interview conditions.

The interview stage is not the unfair part of the process. The unfair part is in how interviews are given out, which journals and programs are considered "prestigious," which types of philosophy popular or not, and so forth.

Expecting a professional performance from someone who wants to be a professional is not unfair.

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents, from the interviewing side of the table.

"I know you do. But I don’t think there’s any good basis for it."

There is, in fact, a pretty good basis for it. I have never seen an instance where someone does fantastic in the interview but flubs repeatedly in the classroom. I'm sure it's happened, but it's not the norm (based what I know from my experience, and from what colleagues elsewhere have noted).

"Is it? That’s what I’m questioning. I think we should not assume there is *any* correlation between how well someone answers questions on Skype or in a hotel room under a unique and rather bizarre type of intimidation, and how they answer questions from their students."

What we are doing is seeing how well you answer questions. Period. How well you answer questions is a fairly good indicator of how well you answer questions. And while you may think the interview is a bizarre scenario, remember that it's one you can prepare extensively for. You're going to be asked about you, your work, and your future goals. You're going to be asked pretty routine questions that, quite frankly, you should be well-prepared to answer. If you get flustered when talking about something you are intimately familiar with, and have been preparing for years to talk about, that's too bad for you. Because someone else *won't* get so flustered, and that's the person I'm bringing to campus.

"The problem is that they are drawing conclusions about a person’s ability in one situation from evidence about that person’s ability in a very different, very strange situation."

That's true, but there's no alternative. Well, that's not true. I'd like to see hiring committees ask applicants for video recordings of their classes, so we can see how they work a classroom. But then again, that's not representative either, in that you could record all your classes and only send the best one. Ideally, I'd like to see footage of how applicants handle difficult students, or even students who don't understand the material immediately. But as it's impossible to get the exact kind of information that would serve as an accurate reflection of you as a teacher, we work within the very limited information we have access to. (Though seriously, I want applicants to send DVDs of their teaching. But few people seem to support me on this.)

"Exactly. You aren’t hiring me primarily to explain my dissertation to 50 year olds"

Maybe. I wouldn't be so quick to ignore adult learners.

"in hotel rooms"

No, but you will be in a room. It won't have a bed, but that shouldn't be a factor.

"or on Skype"

We might. There's a growing desire for online education.

"when they hold the keys to my future in their hands."

Until you have tenure, the students do, in the form of evaluations.

Look, the bottom line is, everyone recognizes that interviews are flawed. We all get that. But that doesn't mean that they are not decent predictors of future success. This is why you don't see jobs come up repeatedly every year (and when you do, you attribute it to the person leaving for a better job, not being kicked out).

Or, to put it another way, let's I am interviewing you for a job in my department, and you nail a question. You hit it out of the park. You provide the best answer possible. Is that the point when I should turn to you and remind you that answering questions in an interview in no way demonstrates your ability to interact with students, so we won't be considering your brilliance in our deliberations?

Anonymous said...

The posters discussing the informational value of interviews seem to be making poor probabilistic inferences left and right.

One argues that interviews are poor indicators of applicant quality because the probability that an candidate performs badly in an interview *given* that he or she is a good candidate is fairly high, i.e.,

P(Interview = Bad| Applicant = Good) is high.

The other argues that interviews are of good indicators because the probability that an applicant is good given that he or she has performed badly is high, i.e.,

P(Applicant = Good|Interview = Good) is high.

These two claims are compatible, and the other probabilistic facts that can be inferred from them (e.g., whether P(Applicant = Bad | Interview = Bad) is high) depend critically upon other assumptions about the prior probabilities of applicants being good (or bad) and/or interviews being good (or bad).

In any event, can the poster who is against interviews recommend an alternative fairer and more informative procedure for narrowing the winnow of candidates? I'd be interested in that.

3:25 (and 5:23) said...

5:43. Give it up.

Explaining your fucking dissertation is not some Herculean task,


I didn't say it was Herculean. You could ask each candidate to recite the pledge of allegiance and juggle tennis balls. Those aren't Herculean; the problem is that they are not predictors of good philosophy teaching.


nor is it unreasonable for search committees to expect you to be able to explain it…in any sort of interview conditions.
The interview stage is not the unfair part of the process.


You don't seem to understand. The issue I have raised is not an issue of fairness.

This kind of response worries me. Do people on the other side of the process really not understand the problem, even after I've explained it?

3:25 said...

There is, in fact, a pretty good basis for it. I have never seen an instance where someone does fantastic in the interview but flubs repeatedly in the classroom. I'm sure it's happened, but it's not the norm (based what I know from my experience, and from what colleagues elsewhere have noted).

I'm surprised you've asked your colleagues about the correlation between interview aptitude and classroom success. I would like to see more public, objective evidence, but at least you've asked.

What we are doing is seeing how well you answer questions. Period. How well you answer questions is a fairly good indicator of how well you answer questions.

If you asked prospective cat-sitters to calm down your bull elephant while you screamed at them, you would not do a good job finding a cat-sitter, even though how well someone cares for animals is a fairly good indicator of how well she cares for animals.

If you get flustered when talking about something you are intimately familiar with, and have been preparing for years to talk about, that's too bad for you. Because someone else *won't* get so flustered, and that's the person I'm bringing to campus.

You've made that clear. The question, though, is whether that method gives you any good reason to think you've hired good teachers and filtered out bad ones. I think it's dubious.

No, but you will be in a room. It won't have a bed, but that shouldn't be a factor.

Interesting -- the APA and other organizations have concluded that the presence of the bed *does* make a difference, particularly when the interviewee is a woman.
This supports what I'm saying. It seems obvious to you that the presence of a bed in the room doesn't make any difference, but there's evidence that it does, in fact. I'm saying the many differences between interview conditions and teaching conditions should make us skeptical about the correlation between ability to perform well in the two conditions.

Anyway, I do think you've seen my point, and it's not as if *I* have a pile of empirical evidence, so there's not much more to be said.


Anonymous said...

4:25

Actually using your logic, it's not clear how _any_ interview situation is meaningfully correlated. I'm sure there are always cases in which this person or that one is intimidated by Skype, or by the real life search committee staring at you across a table, or over a phone using conference call. There will always be such cases, so in your mind none of them seem to tell search committees anything. Forget teaching demonstrations - I'm sure they are also useless as well! I mean, it's not your class - and you've been given a subject in advance to talk about. And there are search committee members in there! You'd likely perform differently in an ideal circumstance! They really shouldn't do them.

To those on the other side of things - those who have actually served on numerous searches using a variety of different methods of communicating with applicants - this sounds all very silly, because we are repeatedly presented with evidence to the contrary, and with no reason to not continue to trust such processes other than the reasons given by some such as yourself that no such processes are 100% reliable.

My advice is to practice using Skype for this purpose, because it's not going to change. Universities can't afford flying people to the APA. Learn to use it in a way that works for you - joke about the format, make yourself comfortable, but most of all, practice explaining things to people you cannot Beyond the need to learn to do this for an interview, more and more conversations within the academy are turning to the inevitability of hybrid teaching. So you're going to have to learn to do it, sooner or later.

Make it sooner. Good luck to you.

Interview Skeptic said...

I'm the one person who's posted a few comments skeptical of the practice of dismissing a candidate from contention on the grounds that she flubbed the 'tell us about your dissertation' question. I'll give myself a name now: Interview Skeptic.

3:51,
Yes, that’s completely fair. I may have overstated my objections – I didn’t think so, but from the impression you got of what I meant to say, at the very least I didn’t put it well.
What I think we know is this: short interviews are not good ways of getting information about candidates. They probably provide *some information, but low-quality. Disqualifying a candidate because she screws up answering one of your big questions is not a wise idea.
At the moment the only alternative I’d suggest is: skipping the interview. Look at the other elements of the dossier. Do an interview on campus, which is much less susceptible to the main problems with short interviews. And, if you do interviews, decide in advance that goofing up one question shouldn’t be given enormous weight in your decision.

Anonymous said...

7:56

I don't know that I've ever been on a SC where the interviewee screws up on one question and we toss that person's file just on that basis. Now, we might if the candidate is equal to the other ones and no one else screwed up the question. But that doesn't usually happen, and that said, any question asked in any format is a part of a comprehensive evaluation process. A person who, in a Skype interview, can't answer the dissertation question and who has problems effectively communicating answers to other questions as well is in a different boat than one who merely flubs a dissertation question (or some other one).

Skipping the process is not going to happen. Committees cannot afford to fly the long list of 9 people to campus. Most times they can't even afford to fly three (this is becoming more the case at smaller schools). Moreover, many universities cannot afford to fly to the APA. So you need to winnow down the pile. Often at this point of the process there are 8 or 9 very closely ranked people, so you need to move to the next level. So Skype interviews are here to stay. So instead of arguing that they should not be used (which is not going to happen, they will become more and more the norm), candidates need to figure out how to use them to their advantage. Which, quite frankly, is the case for any interview situation - APA, on campus, phone, Skype, etc.

Interview Skeptic said...



Actually using your logic, it's not clear how _any_ interview situation is meaningfully correlated.

Right.
In fact, there is evidence that (in general, not for philosophy in particular) interviews are badly correlated with actual job performance. Short interviews in artificial circumstances are worse.


Forget teaching demonstrations - I'm sure they are also useless as well! I mean, it's not your class - and you've been given a subject in advance to talk about. And there are search committee members in there! You'd likely perform differently in an ideal circumstance! They really shouldn't do them.

Well (and yes, I am aware you were being sarcastic), the circumstance is less artificial. It would be nice to have actual evidence about this sort of interview, but I don’t know of any.



To those on the other side of things - those who have actually served on numerous searches using a variety of different methods of communicating with applicants - this sounds all very silly, because we are repeatedly presented with evidence to the contrary, and with no reason to not continue to trust such processes other than the reasons given by some such as yourself that no such processes are 100% reliable.

I don’t think I understand what you mean. What is the evidence to the contrary? Or do you just mean your own impressions? I think you are trusting the processes without any good evidence.
Which, I understand, people do all the time. But this is pretty important, and there is definitely evidence that there are serious problems with short interviews, so it seems to me my worries are not “silly” at all.



My advice is to practice using Skype for this purpose, because it's not going to change.

Thank you. I agree. That’s not exactly my point, but I’m despairing of getting the majority of interviewer-side philosophers to see my point. So, thanks for the advice.

Anonymous said...

"The question, though, is whether that method gives you any good reason to think you've hired good teachers and filtered out bad ones."

This is a *very* common misperception about how the interview process works. Just because an applicant is cut - at whatever stage of the process (be it first read of applications or final decision) - does not mean that the committee feels it has filtered out "bad" applicants. If anything, everyone who has ever served on a search will likely attest to the fact that most applicants are good applicants, with quite a few being great, if not outstanding.

It's not about filtering out "bad" ones. It's about finding ways to identify the one applicant you get to hire. All interview techniques are imperfect, and committees recognize that. But they also don't have the luxury of asking you to teach a course for a couple weeks in order to see how well you can do they job.

I suppose one answer is to eliminate all TT hires. Nobody gets on the tenure track their first year. Every job includes a first year probationary period, whereby new hires demonstrate their ability to do the job. If they are found wanting - particularly if their interview was a poor indicator of how well they might do their job - they are not renewed and someone else gets the chance.

However, I suspect this is in actuality a very awful idea, supported by nobody (except perhaps administration). And not least because it still fails to change how we might select that first probationary applicant.

Look, I'm all for making the interview process better. So let me ask, what arbitrary, non-teaching interaction do you think serves as an accurate predictor? What should committees be asking applicants to do during the interview? Outline for me the kind of interview you believe will more accurately provide the relevant information?

Anonymous said...

*Skipping the process is not going to happen. Committees cannot afford to fly the long list of 9 people to campus. Most times they can't even afford to fly three (this is becoming more the case at smaller schools).*

I teach at a small state school with a small Philosophy program, which has a respectable number of majors, but which mostly services the university through the general education program. We also have no graduate program.

I'd first like to note that the cost of flying applicants out if prohibitive. We have been told that all future searches will include the funding to fly out two finalists. That's it. If we land neither of them, there is no option to fly out a third. We would need to either cancel the search, or make an offer based on existing information.

We have been told we are no longer going to APA. All first round interviews will be done over the phone. If need be, we will be allowed to have a second round of phone interviews, to get to our two finalists. (We could make these Skype interviews, and we will decide that when we need to hire someone.)

So I am sure that Interview Skeptic is rejoicing. Not our budgetary woes, but that we have eliminated the in-person interview stage, which he/she believes to be meaningless anyway. I hope he/she is right, and that by losing out on the chance to meet applicants in person before bringing them to campus (or perhaps even before hiring them), we will not be missing anything useful.

Also, our dean suggested that we could bring more applicants to campus if the applicants were willing to foot the bill. He was not joking. And I can assure you, he is not alone. Someday - sooner rather than later - you will see of campuses inviting applicants to on-campus interviews, provided that they applicants cover all necessary costs. And not long after that, schools will simply stop covering the costs for any on-campus interviews. And they will justify their decision by looking to the business world and saying, "if you want a job in a location where you don't currently live, it's on you to get to the interview." The idea of flying out finalists, on the department's dime, is on its way out.

Interview Skeptic said...

9:28,

Okay, sorry, I shouldn't have said 'bad'. How about 'worse'?

So let me ask, what arbitrary, non-teaching interaction do you think serves as an accurate predictor? What should committees be asking applicants to do during the interview? Outline for me the kind of interview you believe will more accurately provide the relevant information?

I think I answered this question at 7:56. Given present information, it would be much better to skip the interviews altogether.

Maybe there are kinds of interviews that really do work well, but I don't know what those are. Maybe someone who's good at empirical research (which I am not) can find good methods. In their absence, I think hiring committees should not do first-round interviews at all. If you're going to do interviews, you should do what you can to minimize the weight you give to aspects of the performance that are likely to be affected by the highly artificial circumstances of short interviews.

Interview Skeptic said...

9:40,
I know that was a bit hyperbolic, but just to keep the record clear: I haven't said the in-person interview is meaningless.
I do think it's quite possible that you will make *better* decisions when you eliminate the interview stage. I'm by no means sure of that, but I think there's a good chance it will happen.
Of course, I am still sorry about the budgetary woes.

Anonymous said...

Not to be negative, but could we put an end to this derailment and get back to some advice?

Anonymous said...

No, the derailment must continue.

In cases where budget woes are not generating draconian measures, one can save money by not sending department members to interview at the APA but bringing more candidates to campus.

In lieu of APA interviews to narrow down the field, ask for more written work from the short list of 15. One can find out more about a candidate's range, depth, etc. by looking at more of their work.

When APA interviews are defended, I am always put in mind of the joke about the drunk who is searching under a streetlight for his wedding ring, even though he lost it a hundred yards away, 'because the light is better here.'

Anonymous said...

"In cases where budget woes are not generating draconian measures, one can save money by not sending department members to interview at the APA but bringing more candidates to campus."

Oh lord. I can hear the Dean cackling already as I tell him, as the SC Head, that the money he "saved" by using Skype (he doesn't see it that way - that's money he was never prepared to spend in the first place) should now be given back so that we can fly 6 or so people to campus. The gale force winds that will emerge from his mouth as he roars in laughter will blow me half way across campus.
No way, jose.

Also, there's no way any search committee I've ever served on - even if they were given permission, would agree to bring 6 people to campus. Two reasons: (a) Campus visits are incredibly time consuming for the SC, administration, and for staff. They take a long time - 6 people would be weeks of on campus interviewing. So while we want the best person, but there are practical limits that we must operate within. Also, (b) this would require bringing 6 people never seen to campus. Assuming that a few of these candidates will either have the wrong personality and/or no social skills, bad communication skills, or what have you, the SC will be kicking itself asking why it didn't bother to possibly find that out using Skype and/or extended phone interviews, when they cost $0 and last 30 - 45min each.

"In lieu of APA interviews to narrow down the field, ask for more written work from the short list of 15. One can find out more about a candidate's range, depth, etc. by looking at more of their work."

That may be what is eventually done at an R1. But most jobs are not R1 jobs, and simply reading more of the candidates' work is not what will get us from 15 to 9, or from 9 to 3. At a teaching college (the vast # of jobs), once the SC is down to 9, all of the candidates are more or less equal. At this point, other considerations start to become important. More writing samples don't help to get at those. If your reply is "bring more to campus" see the above reply to that.

Anonymous said...

Assuming that a few of these candidates will either have the wrong personality and/or no social skills, bad communication skills, or what have you,

Can you really tell those things from a 40 minute Skype interview? I think that's unlikely. You may *think* you can -- the interview may give you the *impression* that you have determined that the candidate does or does not have the wrong personality or social or communication skills. But it's very doubtful.

Anonymous said...

2:17,

I think so many grad students are unaware just how much time it takes to bring someone to campus, and they should be given a glimpse of the process. If I may...

First, applicants are generally given a full day of meetings, though sometimes this can cover 2 days, if one includes a dinner the night before the interview day, or 3 days if there is a breakfast meeting the day after the interview. Often, these are the kinds of meetings that Presidents and Provosts can more easily make than mid-afternoon meetings. So, in general, to make sure you don't have applicants overlapping each other, give 3 days per applicant. At best, and only if schedules work out favorably, you can interview two applicants per week. math it out; every 2 applicants you bring to campus is a week of work. (I know of programs that squeeze in 3 per week, but they have all told me that it's a rushed job, and not ideal.)

That work is largely done by the department secretary, who is doing this scheduling above and beyond his/her normal administrative duties. This involves scheduling meetings with all interested parties: chair, faculty, dean, provost, perhaps the president, ideally students, likely a teaching demonstration. This scheduling has to be done for every applicant, and all of them must meet with all of the same groups above (and at many state schools, this is mandated by law, as applicants must be evaluated on the same criteria). All of the above groups have their own work to do that is not search-related, so this gets tricky, as well as time-consuming.

Next, give at least a week for deliberations at the department level, a few days if lucky. The more applicants, the longer this may take. Ideally, the department will have a recommendation to the dean by the end of the week after the last applicant is interviewed. The dean and provost may take another week (more if they disagree with the department recommendation), which may seem like a long time, but remember that the dean is doing this for every search run by every department at the college. (This fact, often ignored by job applicants, makes the on-campus scheduling a bit tricky. If multiple departments are hiring, then deans, provosts, etc. must meet with all of them. This will add to the time it takes to schedule every aspect of the campus interview.)

So, allowing for everything moving smoothly, and assuming that no other department on campus is hiring, bringing 4 people to campus ends up creating 3 weeks' worth of work. 6 people is 4 weeks. Etc. And only if everything runs smoothly, which rarely happens.

For those who think the process is already long enough, it only gets longer when we bring more people to campus. Notifications that go out in April now go out in May, or maybe June. And because administration will need signed contracts sooner rather than later (if only to get paperwork to HR so that the new hire can be paid on time and have benefits active upon being hired), applicants now get less time to consider offers.

Personally, I think we should ask for the following from all applicants:
1. Cover letter.
2. CV.
3. A sample of published scholarship in the advertised AOS.
4. Letters of recommendation from advisors.
5. Recording of a class lecture and discussion section for a class in the advertised AOS.

In addition to providing the most relevant information, this would weed out a large number of applicants. Win/win.

Anonymous said...

From my experiences last year, it would seem that one thing that appears to help search committees save time is that they do not feel any need to inform you of their decision even after a campus visit. I had two campus visits last year where I could have sworn as they packed me off on a plan that they said they would contact me within a week and tell me what happened and then I heard nothing. Come to think about it, this seems to happen all the time. Was the process so grueling for the committee members that the extra two minute email would push them beyond the limits of what is admittedly a very, very stressful time for all of them?

Anonymous said...

The worst part of having to be on the market for more than one year is being compelled to hear the same discussions carry on over and over. This one, for example, about how interviews can/cannot give committees reliable data happens every year. I presume it's because every year brings new parties to the table. But do we have to re-invent the wheel every year?

Anonymous said...

@6:17

If you've been on the market before, then you know how shitty and disempowering it feels. Saying how things 'should be' is one way of exercising a kind of ersatz control over things. So of course you're going to see the same stuff rehashed over and over again. It's just therapy for the disempowered.

Anonymous said...

The worst part of having to be on the market for more than one year is being compelled to hear the same discussions carry on over and over.

False.

Anonymous said...

"'The worst part of having to be on the market for more than one year is being compelled to hear the same discussions carry on over and over.'

False."

Fair point.

Clive said...

Smoker question: how do you act toward a committee with whom you have a scheduled interview but who you haven't met yet? Do you meet them during the Smoker, or are you only obligated to make small talk with departments with whom you've interviewed?

Anonymous said...

This is just a generalization from similar social circumstances, as I haven't been in the situation Clive describes, but it seems that it would be good to introduce oneself briefly, if there is an opening and it wouldn't be intrusive, then make the first graceful exit possible. Ignoring a committee you're due to meet could seem weird or strained; forcing yourself on them, as though to have the interview early, would be worse.

Of course, the Smoker might be such a sui generis setting that there's no predicting the rules from the rest of life...

Anonymous said...

The false alternatives above are staggering.

Why does no one respond to the inevitable question "What else do you want us to do?" with "have people actually teach in the first round interview"

Modest proposal:
If you are primarily a teaching school, and you want to have first round interviews before campus visits (which seems totally reasonable and appropriate), why not have the candidates ACTUALLY teach during the first round interview rather than try to shoe-horn a bad substitute for teaching into a format better suited for hiring businesspeople?


This is not some crazy, radical proposal.

I work (part time) for an amazing teaching company. We go to top-level recruiting/interviewing conferences for private high school teachers. We have 30 minutes for our "interview". We do standard interview questions answers for the first 5 minutes. We make them teach (we play act as students) for 20. We wrap up/out brief answer their questions for 5. I learn 100x more about whether I want to recommend someone for the next stage from the 20 minutes of teaching than from the 10 minutes of interviewing.

Do you learn as much as you would if you watched them in a class for 4 weeks? No

Do you learn more from watching them teach for 20 minutes than you would by extrapolating how they might teach from how they answer questions in an interview? Yes

Why o why does no one in philosophy do this? I know we often have to teach a class at the campus visit stage, but if you are hiring primarily a teacher or even a 50/50 research/teacher, why not see them teach right away? Even if its 60/40 research why not see them teach, since you can learn about their research far better from their writing?

If you say, "tell me about Leviathan" or "tell me about your dissertation" with no indication about who the audience is, what the learning objectives are, etc. etc. my ability or not to do what you ask may or may not indicate good teaching skills or a lack thereof.

I bet you'd learn much more about a future teacher if you'd say , "you've got X minutes, we'll ask questions, we're 3 members of a advanced undergrad class (or intro class or whatever), assume we haven't read it, but you've got 15 minutes to teach us the key idea of one chapter of your dissertation (or a central argument of your dissertation or the Leviathan or whatever). Take two-three minutes to think and let us know when you are ready."

You could even let them know ahead of time what you'll ask them to teach.


If I'm ever on a search committee at my new SLAC, I am, in some way, going to get candidates to teach from the very first time interview.

Anonymous said...

Clive,

There's more than one smoker - sadly. Don't go talk to the committee until after your interview.

Also, ask them in the interview if they have a smoker policy/preference. I know some schools now discourage any discussions at the smoker (e.g. UW-Madison)

Anonymous said...

6:07 speaks the truth.

Clive said...

Well, I certainly won't be going to the smoker with the $10 beer. But one of my interviews is on Sunday, which I think is after both smokers. It seems weird to have to schmooze some of the departments (those with whom one has interviewed) but not others (those with whom one has scheduled interviews).

Anonymous said...

I've always found the smoker bizarre and distasteful. To create an interactive environment in which the candidate is not only (from the candidate's perspective) expected to do some social ass kissing, the candidate may have to do it in the company of other candidates for the same position. Who can kiss ass better? Who has the most witty repartee? Blah, blah, blah.

Just interview me, and if you like me, bring me to campus. Otherwise, I'll skip the smoker nonsense.

zombie said...

Clive,
I've encountered situations at the Smoker where it turned into a mini ad hoc interview with someone who was not at the official interview. If you're going to try to chat up the department at the smoker (a plan I do not endorse), you should be aware that this could happen. I think the Smoker is really meant to give a feel for "the hang," but it's really hard to socialize naturally in that kind of situation, and inevitably, someone is dominating the SC to the extent that inserting yourself is awkward.

Anonymous said...

*I bet you'd learn much more about a future teacher if you'd say , "you've got X minutes, we'll ask questions, we're 3 members of a advanced undergrad class (or intro class or whatever), assume we haven't read it, but you've got 15 minutes to teach us the key idea of one chapter of your dissertation (or a central argument of your dissertation or the Leviathan or whatever). Take two-three minutes to think and let us know when you are ready." *

1. Some schools already do this, or something very like it.
2. Applicants generally hate this, and I've heard some complain that the interview is not the place to create an invented teaching scenario.
3. Applicants who dislike this are those who don't want to be at "teaching school," and as far as I can tell, that's most of them.
4. I know of multiple community colleagues that do something very like this. I wonder how many people reading this blog and complaining about the field have applied to community colleges.

Anonymous said...

They do say that the best way to answer the 'tell us about your research' question is to act as if you are explaining it to some smart undergraduates with no knowledge of the area... or teach it, in other words.

Anonymous said...

I have two skype interviews scheduled, and I feel fortunate. I haven't booked flights or hotel in Baltimore. Which schools are interviewing at the APA this year? I'm at a top 10 program and I haven't heard of anyone receiving a first-round APA interview this year. Is there some way we could compile a list of which institutions will be there, so we can figure out whether anywhere we've applied might expect us to drag our anxiety-ridden carcasses to friggin Baltimore?

Anonymous said...

I'm at a bottom 10 program. I have two Skype interviews and nothing booked for Baltimore. Feeling fortunate as well.

Anonymous said...

I know UVA Wise and Sewanee are interviewing at the APA.

Anonymous said...

University of St. Thomas has already scheduled APA interviews.

Anonymous said...

At a Leiter top-20 program and feeling extremely fortunate to have two interviews (one Skype, one APA).

Anonymous said...

I think LaSalle is interviewing at the APA; they're not listed on the Wiki yet.

Anonymous said...

Rice and UCSB are both interviewing at the APA (they both offered to do it via skype, as well).

Anonymous said...

La Salle is on the wiki, but still listed as 'Past Deadline.' Did you or someone you know get an interview request from them?

Captcha: 'hedrorp.' As in, 'The total lack of interviews is making my hedrorp.' :(

Anonymous said...

Bloomsburg and William Paterson are doing both Skype and APA interviews

Anonymous said...

I don't know what it is about this year, but I have zero interviews so far. At this time last year I had five interviews scheduled--four Skype and one APA. However, if the wiki is to be trusted, I'm still waiting on a number of places to call. I won't bore you/dishearten you about how many years I've been on the market, but I've been doing this since before the economic crash in 2008. It's taken a real toll on me and my family. I really don't know if I can do this another year.

Anonymous said...

Saint Louis University is doing APA interviews for all three of their advertised positions.

Anonymous said...

@3:56 Wow. I admire your endurance. I am on the job market for the second time as an ABD. I have also got no interviews. I am calling it quits after this year, most likely. I have no family and I am still not putting myself through this again.

Anonymous said...

3:56,

Though there are likely a good many reason for your situation, I'm wondering if you could tell us in what ways your application this year is stronger than it was last year.

What I'm wondering is exactly how one becomes stale on the market.

Anonymous said...

11:44 AM and 12:12 PM,

This is 3:56 PM. It's easy to complain, but I know of people who have it far worse than me.

My story: I landed a VAP position at a highly reputable regional Masters university after my first year on the market in 2007. I managed to keep the VAP position for three years. My department wanted to keep me around, so they requested another faculty line--a full-time, non-tenure-track that would be indefinitely renewable--from my university's admin. I was given that in 2011. I've been teaching a 4-4-1 load since I started teaching here in 2007. I've got a ton of experience teaching general ed philosophy and upper-division courses in my AOS and AOC. I've even taught two graduate courses. Since landing the job, I've published five papers (one came out this month in a book while another is coming out in early 2014). One of my pubs (which came out in 2012) is in a top-25 journal. I've attended and gave papers at conferences--mostly APA--, etc. So, I haven't really done anything to let my Ph.D. go stale. If anything, I feel I'm doing all the right things with the kind of teaching load I have. My main area of specialization is an a historical period, and I interviewed last year for what I believe were the two best jobs in my specific area. This year, I've just been skipped over.

In all, it does takes endurance, but I've been happily employed all this time, so my situation could be far worse. However, I learned a couple of months ago that my position, which, remember, is indefinitely renewable, will not be renewed for the next academic year. So, I'm now scrambling and wondering what Plan B could be. I think I'm now realizing that a TT position is just probably not in my future.

Anonymous said...

@2:04

Sounds like you're doing amazing in light of that teaching load.

One question: is the position not being renewed or are you not being renewed for the position?I ask because I'm in a similar situation.

Anonymous said...

@5:22 PM,

From what I understand, and I may be wrong, since admins like to keep secrets, the position itself is not being renewed. In my case, and I'm pretty sure this is true of many others in similar circumstances, the renewal of my contract is not contingent on merit. So, I can do everything right--teach well, have fantastic teaching evals, publish, serve, etc.--but get fucked. And this is exactly what has happened. Further, my department is powerless to do anything about it. They've tried to reverse the admin's decision, but without success. There are so many moving pieces when it comes to this sort of thing, and PEOPLE with roots, family, etc. get screwed at the end. This is academia. And I actually have had it really good compared to the majority of Ph.D.'s. When it really comes down to it, it's situations like mine and those who are *really* suffering from academia--the adjuncts-- that make holiday conversations with relatives about jobs, etc. so surreal. They, for very good reasons, don't get it.

Anonymous said...

11:44 AM

Far be it for me to tell anyone when enough is enough, that is a call no one can make for another, but I've seen enough people whose positions on the market changed markedly in the year they went from ABD to PhD (including my own) that I would encourage you to give it at least one shot with that credential

Anonymous said...

11:44,

Why are you on your second market year ABD? I can understand hitting the market the year before completion, but 2 years before completion? How many interviews were you expecting when you went on the market 2 years before finishing?

I was recently hired at a small school with a 4/4 load, and after I was hired, they told me they wouldn't even consider ABD applicants. Not because there were so many who had completed (and had experience teaching as adjuncts), but because hiring someone to a 4/4 load with service expectations *and* ABD puts too much pressure on the new hire. They told me that, in the past, hiring ABDs to a 4/4 load burned them out fast, so they don't do it anymore. I suspect they are not alone.

My advice to grad students is to hit the market a year before you defend. Any earlier is a waste of money. But never underestimate the importance of having defended.

Anonymous said...

" But never underestimate the importance of having defended."

Don't overestimate it, either. I thought having defended would help me on the market this year, since last year as an ABD got me only one interview. But this year: no interviews.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone heard anything about the job at Hunter College?

Anonymous said...

I agree with 10:14. I don't having a degree can be counted to on to help anyone's chances. Not having it might hurt, but having it is not exactly a boon unless you are in a prestige department. I thought having a publication in a top 5 journal would help me this year, even though I am an ABD. but it has not done a damn. I beginning to be more and more of the opinion that only prestige and pedigree really matter and the rest of us are kidding ourselves.

Anonymous said...

" I admire your endurance. I am on the job market for the second time as an ABD. I have also got no interviews. I am calling it quits after this year, most likely. I have no family and I am still not putting myself through this again.

December 17, 2013 at 11:44 AM"

YOU'RE STILL ABD. Why would you call it quits until you at least went on the market with degree in hand? It's *very* hard to get a job ABD these days with so many other people with degree in hand.

Anonymous said...

Are there other industries where you're expected to wait 6 months after getting your qualifying degree before you start applying to jobs, then another 9 months before you start those jobs?

Anonymous said...

1:42,

"I beginning to be more and more of the opinion that only prestige and pedigree really matter and the rest of us are kidding ourselves."

The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can move on.

5:37,

"Are there other industries where you're expected to wait 6 months after getting your qualifying degree before you start applying to jobs, then another 9 months before you start those jobs?"

This is not an expectation of the industry, but rather a reality of the job market, where the number of applicants dwarfs the number of jobs. But yes, this is the new normal in academia. But it's still better than what will come next: contingent employment all around as universities stop hiring TT positions.

Anonymous said...

@8:35

I'm not sure what distinction you're trying to draw between "expectation of the industry" and "reality of the job market."

Yes, most of the pathologies of the job market are products of the vast army of surplus labor in the field. But a 12-15 month timetable between degree completion and real, full-time employment (if you get it) only arises as a joint product of:

1) Departments deciding to treat ABD as a disqualification (for the record, I know of ABDs with publicans who have done well at the preliminary interview stage, so not everyone is using this criteria).

2) A graduate school support package built around the assumption of a May graduation.

3) A long, drawn-out application process that starts in the fall, almost a year before the start of employment.

None of those are simply 'facts' of the job market - they are practices created and maintained by the academic professions.

zombie said...

People CAN get hired with ABDs, but they need (at least) strong letters that attest to the fact that the diss is done and they really are going to successfully defend before the job starts. As noted elsewhere, it gets harder to finish the diss once you are working under a teaching load, committee work, and everything that goes with relocating to a new place. A TT job is VERY different from grad school. Look, there are people who fail to publish anything before they go up for tenure, so it is not at all inconceivable that an ABD will fail to get the PhD before they are up for tenure. Since new TT hires are reviewed and renewed until they get tenure, there is real potential for someone in a TT position to not get renewed after a couple of years, which is a problem for everyone concerned.
So, there are good reasons for perceiving an ABD to be a greater risk than a PhD, and ways available to candidates to mitigate that risk.

Anonymous said...

"1) Departments deciding to treat ABD as a disqualification (for the record, I know of ABDs with publicans who have done well at the preliminary interview stage, so not everyone is using this criteria)."

Once again, everyone seems to think all decisions are made by departments. Some departments must follow university and/or HR rules, and sometimes those rules state that the degree must be in hand when starting the job. The last time we hired an ABD, she didn't, and so we had to hire her as an adjunct until she finished, meaning that she wasn't eligible for benefits and her pay was drastically reduced for her first year. It's not just the market is flush with PhDs; some programs are looking out for their new hires. (Imagine how pissed my colleague was when she was told she was being paid half what she would have been, and had no benefits, because she didn't finish the degree on time.) So sometimes, if a SC isn't confident that the ABD won't finish in time (it's amazing how dodgy some advisors can be on that issue), then that candidate might get cut.

"2) A graduate school support package built around the assumption of a May graduation. "

OK, but that's on the graduate programs, not the hiring programs. Everyone knows that (most) schools start in September. Contracts are written based on the academic calendar. That graduate programs won't fund graduate students through the summer is not connected with the job market. (I don't know of any program that provides funding through the summer for any year, including the final year, except for the possibility of teaching as an adjunct in the summer.)

"3) A long, drawn-out application process that starts in the fall, almost a year before the start of employment. "

And while there are ways to shorten the process, some of those fixes are not in the best interest of the hiring departments. With SCs working through hundreds of applications, they need time to read them all. I suppose they could cut back on applications by making criteria more exclusive (no ABDs, must be published, etc.), but that's not good for the field. They could eliminate the conference interview stage (which many are doing), and there are those (both SCs and applicants) who are complaining that Skype interviews are inferior substitutes. But the two most time-intensive parts of the process are: 1) reading applications, and 2) getting all the paperwork through HR and administration. Actually, most of the work (after the applications are read) done by the SC is done rather quickly.

Anonymous said...

@8:35

In support of 5:35's comment I just want to add...it's called reification.

Anonymous said...

Swarthmore owes me $16 for the money I wasted on their Kangaroo search. I think we should all ask for a reimbursement.

Anonymous said...

10:08,

Stop applying to searches where there's a viable inside applicant.

Anonymous said...

"Swarthmore owes me $16 for the money I wasted on their Kangaroo search. I think we should all ask for a reimbursement."

This is why departments SHOULDN'T include the names of the hires in the PFO. We all know immediately that it was an inside hire. But Swarthmore went through Academic Jobs Online, so I'm not sure how many people spent money on the application.

Anonymous said...

Swarthmore won't be the only internal hire by the end of the season.

Anonymous said...

Hey 1:19 PM, how are we supposed to know which jobs have "a viable inside applicant" in order to stop applying to them? And just because there's an inside person doesn't mean a special someone couldn't swoop in and snatch the job. In the immortal words of Bob Sugar:

"It's show business, not show friends." :-)

Anonymous said...

It doesn't make sense not to apply for some given job just because there's an apparently viable inside candidate: I had a flyout for a job last year at a school where there was a VAP with the same AOS etc., as the job called for. The job went to an external person, rather than the VAP. There was no way to tell from the outside whether the department ever had the intention of hiring the inside person.

Anonymous said...

Hey 1:19 PM, how are we supposed to know which jobs have "a viable inside applicant" in order to stop applying to them? And just because there's an inside person doesn't mean a special someone couldn't swoop in and snatch the job. In the immortal words of Bob Sugar:

"It's show business, not show friends." :-)

1:19 here again...

"It doesn't make sense not to apply for some given job just because there's an apparently viable inside candidate"

-That's exactly my point. Swarthmore owes nobody anything for applying to their job.

"There was no way to tell from the outside whether the department ever had the intention of hiring the inside person."

-And therein lies the problem. And as others have pointed out, even if they did have the intention of hiring the inside person, another applicant could very well have changed their minds (or the inside applicant may accept another institution's offer, assuming that person was also on the market, thus forcing the school to hire someone else).

-My point is this: if you think you have a chance at the job, then apply. But if you don't get it, the school owes you nothing because you chose to apply.

Anonymous said...

Well now, 1:19, I have to say that your point was indecipherably opaque to me, on account of the imperative you actually typed:

"Stop applying to searches where there's a viable inside applicant."

Anonymous said...

If Arkansas has already decided on whom to interview, I'm thoroughly impressed. The deadline was December 18th, after all. Fast readers.

Anonymous said...

Florida State's deadline was 9 December ("with a view to on-campus interviews early in 2014"), and (apparently) they've already made an offer!

Anonymous said...

@ 8:31

I had a feeling about the Arkansas position, so I didn't bother applying. I'm not claiming to be psychic or anything, but they were hiring last year with a much earlier deadline. That was a flag (to me) that this might not be a real search.

@ Everyone

We've talked about VAPs having/not having the inside advantage on this blog, but what I want to know is: what is the VAP to do when they don't get the tenure-track job, but are still renewed? My situation is that my department has rejected me for the tenure-track, but I've been renewed. I'm thankful for the renewal, but a bit resentful at the same time. Do I help with the rest of the search (e.g. pick candidates up at the airport)? Or, stay out of it entirely? My PFO was an informal email with a "We really like you, but..." type explanation, which was unnecessary. My instincts tell me to stay out of the search, but stay cordial. Is this right?

Anonymous said...

"what is the VAP to do when they don't get the tenure-track job, but are still renewed?"

If they have no better option, then they should keep the job.

"Do I help with the rest of the search (e.g. pick candidates up at the airport)?"

No. Unless for some odd reason that's included in your contract.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:59

That is what my instincts tell me to do, but they've asked me to "pitch in". It's crazy, at least I think. I've politely declined because I am searching for the better option and that takes a lot of my time. But even if I weren't on the market, I wouldn't want to contribute to a search committee's efforts, when they themselves won't even consider me.

Anonymous said...

Rejected VAP at 2:52 PM: It is unreasonable and obnoxious for your department to ask you to "pitch in" and help with the search. If you need some of the members of the department to write letters of recommendation for you, try to find ways to gracefully decline to help. (It sounds like you are doing this already.)

One thing you can do is come up with other commitments at strategic times that preclude your being able to pitch in. It is sometimes said that the only way to get out of a meeting is to have some other meeting that you have to go to. You get the picture.

Anonymous said...

"That is what my instincts tell me to do, but they've asked me to "pitch in"."

Of course they did. This is their way of making sure you are committed to the welfare of the department. So I guess the question is, are you?

"It's crazy, at least I think."

It's normal, but still pretty bad. Though here's the question: if this had happened in a different AOS (that is, if you were not applying to the job they just filled), would you help? If not, then don't help now. If you would, then maybe be helpful. I mean, at the end of the day, the person they hire will be a colleague, and you will have to work with that person anyway.

"I've politely declined because I am searching for the better option and that takes a lot of my time. But even if I weren't on the market, I wouldn't want to contribute to a search committee's efforts, when they themselves won't even consider me."

They did consider you. You just didn't make it very far in their consideration. From their end, they could choose one of the following:
1. Give you the job.
2. Give someone else the job and let you go.
3. Give someone else the job and keep you in your current position.

Can you give them any reason to ever not do #3? From their position, #3 is probably best for the department; it's the only option where they lose nothing, and gain another philosopher. Down the road, they might lose you to another job, but that will always be true. They will consider that problem when you go to them with a job offer from another department. But until then, if they are not worried about losing you - and they can increase the size of the faculty at the same time - that will be what they do.