Saturday, January 3, 2015

The annual killin' it on the campus visit prep post

If you're prepping for fly-outs, previous posts containing logistical advice can be found here and hereSpiros has some good advice about job talks over at PhilAnon.

Some tips:
  • The campus visit is a gauntlet of job interviews and social calls, with some potentially harrowing, high pressure philosophy thrown in. You'll meet with various deans, and lots of faculty, and students. You'll be continuously shuttled from one thing to the next, with very little down time in between. You'll be dined (sometimes wined, but many university policies don't permit putting alcohol on the tab) more often than you can bear. If you're not a morning person, or not at your peak before you've had some caffeine, use your hotel room coffee maker to fortify yourself before the breakfast meeting. 
  • Take portable snacks, especially if you have dietary restrictions. The days are really long, and being hungry results in brain fails. 
  •  The campus visit is also an opportunity to learn about the school. You can get a sense of the campus culture, and of the department. Don't think like someone who is desperate to get just any job, but rather like someone who might be sold on this particular job. Ask questions about the students, about campus life, about what it's like to live there. You will need to exhibit at least minimal chit-chat skills, because you'll be doing lots of it while people are walking you around campus, driving you to the airport or restaurants, etc. You'll sometimes get a tour of the area (especially in small towns where they might think you need to be sold on the location). It's reasonable to ask about things like the housing market. 
  • Ask in advance for a detailed schedule of what you'll be doing, when, and with whom. You might give a job talk, you might be asked to do a teaching demo. Or both. Get as much info as you can about the teaching demo (will it be an actual class [with how many students], or an audience, will it be in a classroom, will there be tech available), and about the job talk (how much time will you have, who might be there), etc. 
  • Before you go, look up the people you'll be meeting in the department (all of them), but also the deans and administrators. You never know when some little bit of trivial knowledge (hey, we both went to Peoria U! I also love the poetry of Robert Service! How about those Packers?) might be fodder for a good convo, or at least make you memorable (in a good way)
  • Be very, very nice to the department secretary/admin assistants. They don't work for you, so don't act like they do. S/he is also often the person who is going to handle your travel reimbursements.
  • Have at least two pairs of good pants, especially if you're going to a wintry clime where the odds of getting mud/snow/salt on your pants are high. Take a carry-on so nothing gets lost in transit. 
  • If you require accommodation for particular needs (a lactating mom might need time to pump, or you might have dietary restrictions, or need time for religious observance, or whatever), you're better off saying something in advance than trying to sneak off to TCB. You don't really want to do anything during your visit that will give someone a reason to think you're up to something suspicious (drugs! booze! Satanic rituals!). Better to have the awkward conversation ahead of time than to find yourself trying to compensate for unexplained behavior. Obviously, some departments will be more friendly/understanding about special needs than others, but it's worth remembering that if you're hired, you'll be working with these people for a while, so maybe it's better to know in advance if they don't play well with others.
  • You'll sometimes meet with someone from HR to talk about benefits, so you might think about questions for them. (This might be where you want to inquire about maternity/paternity leave, childcare subsidies, etc.)
  • I went to a meeting with a job candidate a while back and observed that he sometimes deflected questions about "how would you teach X?" by asking questions about whether doing Y would be of interest to the department or the students. He also asked specific questions of faculty, like "How do you integrate Z into courses?" or "Is there support for doing A?" It made him sound thoughtful and interested, rather than like someone just answering standard questions with memorized answers and trying to please. (He was offered the job, too.) On the other hand, if you're interviewing at a place where they really need you to teach specific service courses, offering them a list of exciting new courses you'd like to develop instead of teaching Intro may not go over well. So, you wanna have a good feel for what will be expected of you.
  • Take copies of your dossier, including course syllabi, just in case. They might tell you in advance what courses you'd be expected to teach if hired, and you can think about those and work up spec syllabi if you have time. 
  • Anything critical like your job talk or teaching demo slides should be copied onto a flash drive, copied to the Cloud, copied to Google Drive, tattooed on your hand, emailed to yourself, etc. If you're using a Mac, convert stuff to a PC friendly format. I'm  super paranoid about that kind of thing, but I've had TSA drop my laptop on the floor. Print your lecture notes, etc. I had a teaching demo once where all the tech failed except the document camera, but I had printed out all my Powerpoint slides. Success!
  • Be ready to improvise should technology fail during a talk or teaching demo. (Hence, have printed notes.)
  • If you want to have a handout or some such, ask in advance if that's OK, and ask in advance if you can email it to them to print (or print them yourself and bring with).
Potentional pitfalls:
  • When talking to deans and administrators, keep in mind that many of them are really academics, or ex-academics, and they would like you to know that. I found they often wanted to "talk shop" with me about philosophy, in addition to talking about the nuts and bolts of the school. So speak to them as you would speak to potential colleagues. This is also where you might get questions that are attempts to covertly feel you out about your commitment to the place, to teaching, whether you're a flight risk, etc. So too many questions from you about research support, travel support, etc. might not fly in a teaching-oriented place. Keep in mind that no department makes a hire without approval from higher-ups like deans, so these are interviews you really do need to prep for.
  • Since I'm already in a TT position, I asked last year about policies regarding credit towards tenure for work done (if you've been in a postdoc, some places will let you use that work in your tenure file too), and whether they'd require me to start the tenure clock all over again (which I don't want to do at this point). I got the distinct sense that these questions were not at all favorably received, although I don't really know why they were not favorably received (someone enlighten me, if you know). So, if you're in a similar position, that's probably a discussion to save for when you have an offer.
  • I think the general consensus about spousal accommodation is that talking about it should wait until you have an offer. I suppose that might include not inquiring about policies until then as well, although some schools will volunteer that kind of info as part of their "sales pitch." In my experience, if you want a spousal accommodation, you need to negotiate that with the initial contract. Once you're hired, they don't have much (any) incentive to help you out with that, regardless of how many times they tell you during interviews that they totally support spousal accommodations. (This is something to think about for non-academic spouses too, especially if you're moving to rural or isolated college towns where there are few jobs off-campus. Many, many faculty spouses get hired into administrative positions on my campus -- this is not only a substantial income benefit, but also means you're potentially not paying for health insurance for a spouse.)
  • I guess the conventional wisdom about marriage and/or children is that it is viewed as a liability for women, and a positive for men. Departments are going to vary a lot on this kind of thing, and some will be more family-friendly than others. The people interviewing you are discouraged by HR from asking about marital status or children, but if you want to ask about things like schools or childcare, or maternity/paternity leave, you might want to proceed with caution.
  • Some departments ask their candidates to pay for their flights and accommodations and seek reimbursement after the campus visit. It's a really shitty practice, but it happens. I had two fly-outs last year where I had to buy my own tickets. One reimbursed me within a week of my campus visit. One took three months, and numerous, increasingly irate emails from me to the department chair (they didn't offer me the job, so at that point I had nothing to lose, except my thousand bucks). Some places require that you submit paper tickets for reimbursement, so you might want to get those instead of using your smartphone.
You're one of a very select few, so try to enjoy your moment, without being a pompous jerk. Really, nobody likes a pompous jerk. You'll have many people who are intensely paying attention to you, which is a rare thing. The job talks can be fun and lively, and a chance to have your work taken seriously and discussed at length. Savor it. 

~zombie

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

RE: policies regarding credit towards tenure for work done (if you've been in a postdoc, some places will let you use that work in your tenure file too), and whether they'd require me to start the tenure clock all over again (which I don't want to do at this point). I got the distinct sense that these questions were not at all favorably received, although I don't really know why they were not favorably received (someone enlighten me, if you know).

From a research university outside the USA:

BE CAREFUL.... You are better saving such questions until you have an offer, and even then you need to be cautious. That is, try to get to know the culture of the particular univ and department before weighing into such negotiations. My univ HR office and Deans might allow some salary and some minor appointment-level negotiation on the basis of a postdoc, but my department and wider Humanities colleagues would grumble like mad and even take against you for asking. Especially if you are female. (Women who actually do start a little higher up the ladder often have to deal with a sort of revenge that kicks in later and slows their senior promotion.) Why is it all like this? There is sometimes a culture gap between job seekers and job holders. Job seekers are excited and confident. Those already on the ladder but not at the top are often very worried about being 'surpassed'. They see promotion and success as a zero sum game, and they are very conscious of rank and salary. My univ and perhaps even my nation's universities are a bit weird in other ways too- we have senior people with 3+ books and 15yrs experience who move here for quality of life and for research, who are often appointed as though they were freshly minted PhDs with 0-10 published articles. They have to 'earn' their promotions on the basis of work done while in THIS job. (Many do so happily and quietly,which actually only reinforces the system.) That said, these are still stunningly good jobs. Of course the system stinks for everybody and it's bad for the univ, but this system won't change for a long time, because it is driven by pride not reason. STEM fields are different - in them, a recent PhD with one postdoc can be appointed as a tenured Associate Prof. That is part of the cause for resentment among philos and humanities colleagues. I.e., Attempts at negotiation from a real first-timer can trigger the same 'us versus them'. I have met exactly the same in two major US research philos depts, and they had the same situation re philos versus STEM. I hope others will respond with different, more positive advice. But do know there are places with dreamy research jobs where 'precocious' attempts at negotiation would be a job killer, or might set in train other re-levelling mechanisms. I suppose the bottom line is that it's your pride versus their pride. The best way to beat that here is to take the job and then after you have established yourself as a treasure to them and friend, several years later apply for promotion with their goodwill backing you.

Anonymous said...

Is dressing in a suit and tie ( or female equivalent) the entire time expected? Dress shoes the entire time?

zombie said...

That's interesting, 2:29, and you're probably right. I had kind of thought there was a fear that I'd come in to a new job and rest on my laurels, and stop being a productive scholar once I got tenure. Which isn't my plan, but I guess one could take that message from the inquiry.

Anonymous said...

Regarding asking about tenure: I think it actually depends on the place. This was one of my main concerns when I was on the market (lots of postdoc publications, getting middle-aged and wanting tenure soon...), so I asked the department chair (gently and politely) at every visit. I got *very* different replies.

At places with generous T/P accommodation (i.e. we'll count everything you've ever published *and* explicitly hire you at a grade somewhat above straight-from-grad-school) people were happy to answer my question. In fact, I think it actually helped me - I came across as serious and experienced, and the chair enjoyed telling me about the good policy.

At other places, the chair was totally evasive and essentially refused to answer the question. It became clear that these were places where they counted nothing published before their job toward tenure, and started all new hires at the bottom (even those with several years of postdoc/VAP experience). Asking about it at those places mostly hurt me - it forced the chair to tell me bad news, and it made me look pushy or demanding.

So I think I agree with others - don't ask about this during the campus visit, because it's a gamble. But definitely do ask about it when you have an offer. If you have more than one offer and the places have different T/P policies, you might be able to use this to negotiate concessions from the less favorable place. (They probably can't change the institutional T/P policy, but they may have to make it up with salary, etc. once you tell them about the more favorable policy at your other offer.)

Anonymous said...

FWIW, when I was offered my current TT position, I was told how much credit I would get for previous work. I didn't ask, they just told me when they made the offer.

Anonymous said...

@8:18 It's probably not expected but it's the safest choice. One exception: If your on-campus is in a cold snowy place wear snow appropriate shoes. You can always ask to change and/or leave boots in someone's office. They will understand. Wear snow appropriate shoes particularly if you are coming from a place that is not so cold and snowy. People will be relieved to see that you can handle the weather.

zombie said...

8:18 -- generally speaking, yes.

At minimum, business casual (http://www.businessinsider.com/what-business-casual-really-means-2014-8). What you want to avoid is being the person who is underdressed, not overdressed. (Dressing for dinner at Downton Abbey would be overdoing it.)
IME, what SCs wear at campus visits can vary, but it is a variation of business casual. Some wear suit and tie, some a sweater and slacks. Women have a little more flexibility (although I generally go for blazer and trousers). You can't go far wrong with a blazer and trousers, button up shirt and tie, and decent shoes.

It's a job interview, and doesn't necessarily reflect what you would normally wear to teach (depending on how dressy you get when teaching).

Anonymous said...

A few comments from someone with experience on both sides of the gauntlet:

"sometimes wined"

Do. Not. Drink. Use "jet-lagged," "wired," whatever as an excuse. But don't drink alcohol. No matter what your constitution, you'd be amazed how quickly and easily you can lose yourself in such a high-pressure situation.

"If you're not a morning person"

...then become one, quick. Be an adult.

"They don't work for you, so don't act like they do."

This remains true if and when you get the job. They work for the department and the university, same as you. They assist you in some ways, but they do not work *for* you.

"I asked last year about policies regarding credit towards tenure for work done"

This question comes after an offer is made. You may have done a great many things in the past, but you are tenured by a university, not the field in general. You need to remember that, by the time you interview with a school, you have done Jack Shit Nothing for that university yet. You have taught no classes, performed no service, and their name is not associated with your scholarship. Be careful in how you ask this, because you haven't earned any "credit" at that university yet. (Think of it this way: you are the student asking a professor how much of your previous coursework counts in that class.) You need to make a pretty convincing case that work that does not benefit that university should count toward tenure *at* that university.

Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to say that different schools/departments have different attitudes toward the pre-hire tenure work. My department tenured me and another hire within a couple of years of our arrival based mostly on work we'd done elsewhere. (Part of this might be because it makes lateral hires easier--some candidates have choices, most people have the choice of staying where they are, and starting from the bottom of the greasy pole isn't appealing.)

But! You don't need to know this on your visit. What's the difference between knowing what how they treat your old work on your visit and waiting until they make the offer? Best practice is to avoid stepping on what might be a landmine.

zombie said...

"(Think of it this way: you are the student asking a professor how much of your previous coursework counts in that class.)"

I disagree with this. Someone with substantial experience on the TT, or as a VAP/adjunct, etc. is not at all like a student asking about coursework. The more you can avoid thinking of yourself as a student or supplicant, and the more you can present yourself as a professional and a colleague, the better.

But having learned from my mistakes last year, I don't plan to broach the subject of credit towards tenure unless I have an offer in hand.

Anonymous said...

"I disagree with this. Someone with substantial experience on the TT, or as a VAP/adjunct, etc. is not at all like a student asking about coursework."

Of course all analogies are imperfect, but this does hold. You are asking for credit for a situation where you haven't earned any. You earned that credit someplace else.

"The more you can avoid thinking of yourself as a student or supplicant, and the more you can present yourself as a professional and a colleague, the better."

Yes, that's where the analogy fails. I'm not saying you should think like a student, but that situations are similar: you are asking for credit you haven't earned. You earned it elsewhere, for a different institution, not the one you are applying to.

"But having learned from my mistakes last year, I don't plan to broach the subject of credit towards tenure unless I have an offer in hand."

Which is best.

Also, some tips:
1. When you do ask for "credit," always frame it in terms of why the credit you earned elsewhere should be valued by that university. Your time spent performing service elsewhere allows you to step in and serve on Day One; your experience advising allows you to engage in that work right away. (In fact, one of the best ways to sell your previous "credit" is by noting that your experience means you don't need any hand-holding. Many universities give new junior faculty a break on advising, or a lighter teaching load, to help break them in. Asking to come in with "credit" means you don't need any breaking in time; you can start right away, alongside everyone else. Many people asking for such credit seem to misunderstand that when they come in asking for credit, they are coming in as "experienced." Being treated like one of the experienced faculty members means you don't get any breaks.)
2. Research the hiring program fully. Demonstrate that the work you did matches work done by others at the same level in your new university. If the department expects certain standards by the 3rd year review, show that you have met them all if you ask to come in with 3 years' credit (for example). If your past performance does not match up with what that program expects from its own faculty, you have no business asking for your past service to count. (Or you should ask for less credit. If, after 3 years elsewhere, your career more evenly matches up with a 2nd-year colleague, then ask for 2 years' wroth of credit. Asking for more than your application may warrant is a bad way to start a new job.)
3. Be willing to give something in return. You want to go up for tenure early? Fine. What are you giving up as a result? Asking for things without offering concessions tends to make administration uncomfortable. For instance, if you want multiple years' credit, you may need to give up a pre-tenure sabbatical to get it. Or you may need to agree to come in at the salary of someone just starting there, and not someone with X years in. In my experience, administration much prefers making deals to simply giving things away. This one is tough, I admit. But remember that, unless the university explicitly noted they were looking for a senior hire, you are in the same pool as people fresh out of grad school. That you are more experienced may very well be one reason you were hired. But that does not mean they were also looking to bump you up the tenure ladder. They may have (not unreasonably) expected you to be fine starting over with a new tenure clock.

-7:33

Anonymous said...

"You are asking for credit for a situation where you haven't earned any. You earned that credit someplace else."

OK, this depends on how your school sees things. If it's a research school that wants you to have done a certain amount of publishing before it tenures you, it may not care where you were when you did that publishing. When universities hire Big Shot Tenured Professors they don't say, "Yeah, you did a lot of work elsewhere but what have you done for us? You start over from ground zero and come back when you've done a tenure file's worth of work for us." Why not? Because the work that made them Big Shot Tenured Professors reflects well on their employers even if it was at another school.

(Also the start-from-scratch principle doubly screws over people who don't get a TT job first time out--they have to publish like crazy to get that TT job and then it gets thrown away.)

"The more you can avoid thinking of yourself as a student or supplicant, and the more you can present yourself as a professional and a colleague, the better."

This is very true. Or at least it should be true.

-9:07

zombie said...

"(Also the start-from-scratch principle doubly screws over people who don't get a TT job first time out--they have to publish like crazy to get that TT job and then it gets thrown away.)"

I agree -- it makes little sense to completely disregard good publications, especially since in many cases, new work will build on previous work. It seems policies (and attitudes) about this vary. My current University told me explicitly that pubs from my postdoc would count towards tenure, and would even enable me to go up for tenure early. Hence, I was kind of surprised when other places seemed put off by the idea. If you're interviewing or offering a job to someone on the basis (at least in part) of their publication/research record, what justifies discarding that record for tenure purposes? It's not even really self-serving, since you WANT your TT faculty to get tenure.

Anonymous said...

"OK, this depends on how your school sees things. If it's a research school that wants you to have done a certain amount of publishing before it tenures you, it may not care where you were when you did that publishing."

Right. I forgot to note the following: when you are Big Shot, the rules are different. Often, however, those people are targeted (schools inviting Big Shots to apply for positions is not uncommon). And this is especially true when a school is explicitly making a senior hire. I assumed neither of these was the case for anyone here. But if one of you here is David Chalmers and is considering looking for another job, you have little to worry about regarding getting credit toward tenure.

-7:33

Anonymous said...

Zombie,

You write: "it makes little sense to completely disregard good publications, especially since in many cases, new work will build on previous work" [...] If you're interviewing or offering a job to someone on the basis (at least in part) of their publication/research record, what justifies discarding that record for tenure purposes? It's not even really self-serving, since you WANT your TT faculty to get tenure."

Do you believe this should also apply to graduate students? When I finished my PhD, I had 3 journal articles, and a few more smaller publications, plus conferences. How much of that work should count toward tenure? Should my tenure clock have been shortened because I was published right out of the gate? Should publications that come after I graduate count toward tenure more than publications that come before I graduate? And if so, why?

-7:33

Jamie Dreier said...

In my career, we have twice hired people in junior searches who already had tenure track jobs. Both of them came up early for tenure, and both got it. I don't believe they were guaranteed at hiring to be allowed to do so, but it wasn't a problem either.

Neither our department nor our administration thinks of tenure as a reward you get for contributing to the department. It's a matter of assuring everyone that it isn't a mistake to commit to you for three decades.

Of course, not everyone wants to come up early! I certainly wouldn't have wanted to -- my production rate was pretty slow. Nowadays Brown allows a seventh pre-tenure year if the candidate wants it. Almost all the lab scientists take it (so they're reviewed for tenure in their eighth year), and the humanists seem a bit unsure what's the prudent move but I think most so far are taking it.

Anyway, I think Zombie is wise in resolving to keep quiet about this in interviews, since 9:07 is clearly right that different departments think about it differently.

zombie said...

7:33, I think that's a legit question.

Here's why I think the two situations are different. Being a grad student and being a professor are two different jobs. Having done both, I say that with confidence. Similar in a few ways, but also importantly different. There are, for example, many things your professors do that you, as grad student, never do. If you are being hired on the basis of having some experience as a professor (and if you are being hired away from another TT or comparable position, it is likely that you ARE being hired -- in part -- on the basis of that experience), then that experience obviously matters to the dept doing the hiring. Matters in important ways, such as knowing that this person you are hiring has relevant experience doing the job professors do, under the circumstances in which professors do the job, etc. These are matters you are only speculating about when/if you hire a grad student who does not have the job experience (and mutatis mutandis, hiring for any other job). It seems rather arbitrary to say the relevant experience and scholarship matter in the context of hiring, but not at all in the context of granting tenure.

I'm not making a claim that someone who publishes in job X, and then moves on to job Y and publishes absolutely nothing for 3 years has earned tenure in job Y. I also think that someone who publishes nothing after grad school except their dissertation, or excerpts from their dissertation, might fall short (depending on the standards of their school/dept). Obviously there would be a variety of circumstances where someone might fail to live up to the tenure standards of their dept. I've seen it happen in my own dept. And someone actually moving up the ladder might have to meet a higher standard in the new job. Fair enough.

I am saying nothing more than that if you are hiring someone based on their experience (including their scholarship), to make them start all over again AS IF THEY DID NOT HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE YOU CONSIDERED VALUABLE makes little sense.

But if that is the policy of your school or dept, then so be it. You'd better have something else going for you if you want to make lateral hires. (As noted above, there are reasons to think that going from grad student to TT prof is not a lateral hire.) The two schools last year where I encountered negative attitudes about this were not exactly awesome, or in very desirable locations, but they were OK. You might have trouble hiring people away from other jobs where they don't have to go back to square one to get tenure. I don't think that makes a lot of sense -- if you're in the business of making lateral hires -- but I'm not making gradiose claims about rights violations or injustice, or anything more.

Anonymous said...

"I am saying nothing more than that if you are hiring someone based on their experience (including their scholarship), to make them start all over again AS IF THEY DID NOT HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE YOU CONSIDERED VALUABLE makes little sense."

And we do not disagree on this point. But you need to remember that this is true for all hires, not just hires with professional experience. (And I'll add that most graduating PhDs do have "professional experience," if they have designed and taught their own courses, presented at professional conferences, and published in professional journals. That they acquired this experience while in grad school doesn't make it any less relevant for doing the job.)

What I'm saying is that, in many cases, applicants need to be more and more experienced for jobs that, a generation ago, would have been seen as starter jobs or back-up jobs. That additional experience (that in years past might have been seen as experience worth giving credit toward tenure for) is now being seen by many schools as the baseline for hiring.

In my department's last search, all of our finalists were either TT someplace else or held post-docs. All had designed and taught their own courses, all had published well, and all had performed extensive service. Is it really so wrong to think that all of those finalists represented the new normal for entry-level work? All of them were applying to an entry-level (assistant professor) position.

This, in my mind, isn't any different from the "new normal" in terms of publications. Places that, 20 years ago, would never had thought to ask for publications from applicants are now not reviewing any files from applicants without publications. The market is making things more competitive, and this is what that competition looks like.

I'm just trying to explain how things *are* (at least to many programs; there are still plenty that do not think this way), and I think you are trying to explain how things *should be*. And honestly, I think this has more to do with administrations than with programs; I suspect that administrations are increasingly less likely to give anything away because of the cost down the road. Hiring someone experienced may cost the university (particularly if that experience turns into a higher starting salary, which compounds over time). It would not surprise me if administrations are increasingly less likely to give such credit - and hire people with experience - precisely because hiring someone less experience is cheaper. (Someone fresh out of grad school has little leverage, and so no ground to make any demands for salary, early tenure, etc.)

-7:33

zombie said...

I'm not trying to explain how things "should be." As I said, different places will have different policies regarding tenure, credit towards tenure, work sufficient to earn tenure, etc. There's no *should* there. It is what it is.

I am only saying that policies that credit work in one context and disregard it in another don't really make sense. But lots of things don't make sense, and nonetheless persist.

Anonymous said...

First, I'd encourage drinking. I'm always put off if we have a job finalist out who declines a simple beer. I mean is this really someone I want to spend 30 years with? If I had to pick between someone who didn't drink at all and someone who looked like they had fun, I'd take the latter one every single time.

Second, let me reiterate the importance of researching faculty. I can't believe how many people show up and are like "oh hi, what do you do?" Well, it's on the website. And I have like 100 publications so, if you don't know, what are you doing?

But, basically, just be fun. Nobody wants to hire weirdos. You're obviously good at philosophy if you have a fly-out, just make sure that prospective colleagues know you're also good at life.

Anonymous said...

It is 2:29am again.
At my univ, graduate student publications get you looked at more closely and might get you into the long or short list. But they count for nothing in terms of progression up the ladder in a junior appointment. People sometime discount those student publications because they were done 'under supervision'. That is not obviously true, but it is often offered as the justification.

Anonymous said...

In response to 10:56’s comment: “First, I'd encourage drinking. I'm always put off if we have a job finalist out who declines a simple beer. I mean is this really someone I want to spend 30 years with? If I had to pick between someone who didn't drink at all and someone who looked like they had fun, I'd take the latter one every single time.”

I hope this is trolling, or poorly executed parody, sarcasm, or something like that; if it’s serious, then it’s hard to express how dumb it is. The false dichotomy that one can either drink or be fun is such a perfect frat-boy/douchebag stereotype that it’s hard to take seriously, although I suspect that this was indeed a serious remark (!). Moreover, there are many “legitimate” reasons why people don’t drink, such as religious and cultural reasons, and (perhaps most importantly) recovering addiction, that don’t need to be justified or explained, especially to people who are so insecure about their own desire to drink that they can’t handle others not drinking, and who self-deceptively mask that insecurity in ridiculous justifications like the notion that being fun entails drinking.

Anonymous said...

@10:56
Pretty off-putting the link you make between not drinking and supposedly therefore not having, or not being, fun. And especially if you take this sort of thing as an indication of how good they would be as colleague or even "at life". Plain silly. Hope I'll never have you in my SC, or as a colleague, a person who believes that I couldn't have fun unless I drank. How patronizing.

Jaded, Ph.D. said...

In line with the last two comments, see Marcus Arvan's post here:

http://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2015/01/nobody-wants-to-hire-weirdos.html

Anonymous said...

10:56 is a moron, and displays the kind of simple-minded nonsense that smacks of the Old Boy Network that the more enlightened corners of academia has outgrown.

The idea that socializing means grabbing a drink at the bar is such a simplistic way of understanding how people interact in the world. Sure, it still happens, and still seems to be popular among the kind of grad student (usually male) who like to hold court at the local pub, dazzling the inebriated with his ramblings like that pompous grad student from "Good Will Hunting" (you know, the one everyone in the audience hates).

Thankfully, many of us are a bit more enlightened. Sadly, many of us are not.

Taking his comments in the most sympathetic way, let's focus on this: you should have fun. Enjoy it. The experience is hectic and tiring, but it should also be fun. You are meeting new people, talking about your academic interests, and are pretty close to landing a job. Have fun with it.

Similarly, show them your non-work life. Talk about your other interests. Ask questions related to those interests. Research the area to see about those interests, and ask about what other opportunities exist. (This, for many, also is how "fit" is judged. The less you seem to care about living in that area, the less interested in the job you will seem.)

It's true that nobody wants to hire someone they cannot see themselves wanting to interact with. That said, if the only way you know how to be social is to have a drink at a bar, maybe you just aren't very interesting.

Christy Mag Uidhir said...

In many cases, answers to these sorts of questions about T&P can be found simply by consulting the University's often easy to access Faculty P&T handbook and guidelines. I suspect that any questions these can't answer directly likely of a sort better suited to being asked only once an initial offer has been extended.

Marcus Arvan said...

Thanks Jaded, glad to see some other people agree.

zombie said...

"Nobody wants to hire weirdos."

Many of the best philosophers I know are weirdos.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link Jaded. Arvan is on the money. I don't mind a weirdo, especially if she or he is a good colleague. We have one in our dept. Some of my colleagues have trouble handling the person. I suspect often some prejudices are at play. But I believe one ought to learn widening one's horizons a bit. It's part of getting an education. We tell that our students and should practice it when it matters.

Derek Bowman said...

I agree with those who reject the attitudes espoused by 10:56.

And yet I wonder how much of this is just pious hand wringing. How much room is there really for (non-genius) weirdos, given the tight competition on the job market is, the importance of 'fit,' and the importance of performing well in high stakes social situations (interviews, campus visits)?

How different is most of the "I'm not saying how it *should be,* I'm saying how it *is*" advice about how to present yourself in interviews from "here's how not to seem like a weirdo"?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the honest comment, 10:56. It's a lot more helpful in a thread about "killin' it on campus" than all the hyperventilating we're seeing in response to it.

Talk about an overreaction, 6:30. You got 10:56's basic point that all else being equal between n number of candidates, it's likely to be the extra-professional, lifestyle-type stuff that tips the scales in favor of one candidate over another. And yet you go on as if there is something deeply problematic about this.

Anonymous said...

There are two distinct issues here: drinking and being a "weirdo". 10:56's comments about drinking are obviously idiotic. On the other hand, the notion that being a "weirdo" should count against you seems to be a legitimate issue (notwithstanding the juvenile suggestion that drinking somehow correlates with not being such a person). E.g., aside from the issue of who professors want to hang out with (whether that's a legitimate basis for hiring is debatable), it's worth noting that *certain* kinds of "weirdness" might suggest that one probably won't be a very good teacher (i.e. "weirdness" can at least be prima facie evidence of that, and thus it's a legitimate question, in my view).

Anonymous said...

While I would never discriminate against someone who abstained from drinking on a job interview (uh, substance abuse issues, health issues, pregnancy!), I take it that 10:56 is responding to the paternalism and uptightness evinced in comment 7:33.

I have joined search committees in a glass of wine (or two or even a cocktail!) with dinner on every interview I've had, and I've managed to get several job offers over the years. Obvi don't get shit faced, and don't drink if you don't want to or can't, but abstaining out of some sense that this will help you land the job is misguided and makes you seem more like an insecure graduate student than a colleague.

Anonymous said...

"aside from the issue of who professors want to hang out with (whether that's a legitimate basis for hiring is debatable),"

The idea of wanting to hire someone you can "hang out" with is one of the reasons why we still see such a largely white, male profession. People are comfortable with others who are "like" them, and this includes gender, race, age, orientation, etc.

This idea of "fit" being defined as "someone I would accept in my social circle" has been used to (both unintentionally and intentionally) to discriminate against candidates who may differ from the norm (and who many people feel comfortable calling "weirdos").

zombie said...

IYAM, the only rule re: drinking during campus visits is Don't drink if no one else is drinking.

In a situation where others are drinking, use your best judgment/discretion as an adult. Know your own tolerances, etc. Don't drink if you don't want to (for whatever reasons you might have). It's not "weird" to not drink, any more than its not weird to not smoke. (Not that there's anything wrong with being weird.) This isn't Mad Men.

Anonymous said...

Will most teaching heavy SLACs want candidates to give a job-talk in addition to a teaching demo? And if they do, what are the odds that they will want the job-talk to be on something distinct from the writing sample?

zombie said...

3:29 -- some will, some won't. I've had fly-outs where I had both a demo and a talk, and some where I had one or the other.

My last two, they asked me for the paper before the job talk, so they could read it (it wasn't one of my writing samples, but an unpublished paper). I have one coming up where they really want a talk, not a paper.

Anonymous said...

how many people are typically interviewed for first-rounds vs. on-campuses? And is there a (typical) difference between how many people research schools and SLACS interview?

I'd always assumed about 3 people was typical for on-campuses, but I just noticed a school that had scheduled 6 (and I can't help but wonder how many are scheduled at the place where i have an on-campus..)

Anonymous said...

Number of on campuses varies. It's especially relevant whether the search targets a rather specific area - in which case three people are typical - or whether it is a very open search. (You'll see, for instance, that the five or six people at Berkeley all work in vastly different areas.)

Derek Bowman said...

@3:29: The advice I've been given is that if you're asked to give a job talk it should absolutely be something different than your writing sample. You don't want them to think you've only got one idea. It should also be something that you've practiced giving as a talk (if you're a student or a recent PhD your department should arrange a practice talk for you; if not, arrange it yourself with whatever friends, advisors, and colleagues you can cobble together).

zombie said...

9:00 -- the rule of thumb in the past has been about a dozen first-rounds, and 2-3 fly-outs.

But the numbers can be smaller or bigger. Skype makes it possible to do more interviews over more days, compared to in-persons. My uni typically invites 2 for fly-outs. If one of those doesn't work out, we might go to a third.

Fly-outs are expensive, and time and resource intensive -- candidates meet with a lot of people, and those same people (deans, administrators) are meeting with candidates from different departments and searches as well. Plus meals, tours, job talks, etc. I'd be surprised if a lot of places started doing a lot more fly-outs.

hp grouse said...

PhilAnon is now occupied by a mentally ill person, and the philosophy metametablog has been deleted (some time between 5AM and 12 noon GMT on 12 January).

Is this the end of anonymous blog grousing about the profession??

Anonymous said...

http://philosophym3blog.blogspot.com/

No IPs logged.
No moderation.
All anonymous.

zombie said...

We are still here.

If PhilAnon is not moderating comments, this would be a good time to start, methinks.

Anonymous said...

I'm really starting to think I just got in at the wrong time. Ten years ago I would have been a viable candidate (ABD with good publications and teaching experience, AOS in a fairly consistent area of need). Nowadays, it seems to take a super shiny resume to even get an interview, let alone a job. Oh, well. At least I'm still young.

Anonymous said...

11:29,

I hate to break it to you, but the kind of application you describe still gets hired, though maybe not as frequently.

Anonymous said...

"Nowadays, it seems to take a super shiny resume to even get an interview"

That's not what I'm seeing. People with demonstrably weaker packages than others are getting interviews. I think there's a lot more going on than evaluating research records and teaching experience. Let's just say that (some) search committees are paying attention to things other than established quality.

Anonymous said...

"Let's just say that (some) search committees are paying attention to things other than established quality."

It would be more correct to say that search committees are paying attention to things in addition to transparent quality.

People seem to forget that outsiders don't have access to writing samples, letters of recommendation, and the interviews themselves. Those things all matter, to greater or lesser degree depending on the committees.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:09: An alternative possibility is that search committees are reading candidates' writing samples instead of using length of CV (sorry, "established research records") as a proxy for quality.

Anonymous said...

7:16 PM,

This explanation presupposes that search committees read literally hundreds of writing samples prior to granting interviews. Indeed, it presupposes that they read them in a non-superficial way -- for otherwise, they would be mere "proxies for quality".

I think it is fair to say that this presupposition is clearly false.

(I'm not 2:09 PM, by the way.)

Anonymous said...

5:52 PM,

Oh yes, we all know that letters of recommendation and interviews provide direct, un-manipulable access into the very core of a candidate's quality. Why even bother checking to see whether they can finish the Ph.D., or have taught a college-level course?

(Again, I'm not 2:09 PM.)

Anonymous said...

@ 2:12 -- No, it does not presuppose that. Committees instead can (and do) begin by using proxies to compile a long list, then begin looking with some care at a few dozen writing samples.

2:12 PM said...

7:16 PM = 5:34 AM,

Now your 'explanation' predicts precisely the opposite of the fact that it was supposed to explain!

You were attempting to explain why a growing percentage of interviews are being allotted to those with little or no established research/teaching records.

Yet now you say that a presupposition for your explanation is that search committee will typically use an established research/teaching record as a proxy for quality to draw up a list of candidates whose writing samples will get a closer look.

But if this presupposition were true -- and I don't doubt that it is -- then clearly there should have been a shrinking percentage of interviews allotted to those with little or no established research/teaching records. After all, it is precisely these people who lack the proxies required to get their writing samples a closer look!

Anonymous said...

2:55,

"Oh yes, we all know that letters of recommendation and interviews provide direct, un-manipulable access into the very core of a candidate's quality."

You're attributing to me claims I did not make. Nobody would claim that letters of rec and interviews are either "direct" or "un-manipulable." All I claimed was that committees *use* them, not how valuable they are. Committees find them more or less valuable, for many reasons.

But I will say that the interview is a great way to learn about a certain kind of "quality," especially the on-campus interview. Applicants who have great difficulty talking about their work, answering questions about their work, or presenting their work to students, move themselves down the list; those who perform well in the interview(s) move themselves up. This is not unimportant; this is because programs are hiring you, and not your application.

"Why even bother checking to see whether they can finish the Ph.D., or have taught a college-level course?"

Snark aside, this is something we learn from letters of recommendation. Letter writers will often speak to the applicant's ability to finish the degree (and when), which is important information for ABD applicants. Similarly, advisors sometimes also write of how effective applicants are in the classroom. This is just as important - if not more so - than reading the CV to find a list of courses taught.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:06: There are proxies other than established records of research and teaching, including e.g. pedigree and reference letters. That is what I had in mind. My point is that candidates aren't *hired* on the basis of those preliminary factors, but rather on the basis of the high quality of their (perhaps unpublished) written work.

Anyway, I am not sure why the "fact" you think needs explaining -- viz., that "a growing percentage of interviews are being allotted to those with little or no established research/teaching records" -- really is a fact at all, rather than a matter of your (and others') own perception of things.

Anonymous said...

And here we go again with the "I'm entitled to your job because I went to a superior program and have more prestigious articles" crap.

As it turns out, Entitled Whiner, your qualifications fail to best fit the larger number of jobs, at places that you will most assuredly thumb your nose at, some day, if an R1 hires you. For the 40-millionth time: teaching, the ability to field and respond to questions with insightful and creative, off-the-cuff responses that are also reflective of competency, and a solid - even if not *superior* - demonstration of research potential/activity DO FREAKING count as superior qualifications for a large number of jobs.

This particular form of whining is a form of contempt - and not the moral sort.

2:55 AM said...

9:32 AM,

You seem rather defensive. I wasn't intending to upset people who have gained interviews yet haven't been able to demonstrate that they can teach and publish.

Ironically enough, I wasn't even whining. I've had *plenty* of interviews this year. I'll be just fine.

Rather, all I was attempting to do was combat some nonsense that was posted before (that what's described in a C.V. is of merely "transparent" quality; that using how impressive a C.V. is to help decide which writing samples to read leads to more people with unimpressive C.V.s getting interviews rather than less).

Anonymous said...

9:32,

What I find astonishing is how, year after year, some people look at the market and act surprised at the results.

Is anyone really surprised at who gets hired, and by where? Come on. There may be the few outliers now and again, but the same kinds of applicants get hired to the same kinds of jobs, year in and year out. Can we go back to any year recently and not find what we expect to find? What year recently broke the mold?

I bet we can all, right now, predict which programs will have the best placement this year. And which programs won't show up on the board at all.

Anonymous said...

Can 11:08 enlighten us with his/her experience? I'm not being facetious. I'm a junior graduate student who could benefit from some insight or even speculation.

Anonymous said...

This is one place to start:

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2014/07/and-still-more-on-job-placement-2005-2010.html

Anonymous said...

"Can we go back to any year recently and not find what we expect to find? What year recently broke the mold?"

Last year, both in terms of diversity in hiring and in terms of looking beyond pedigree.

Anonymous said...

6:51 AM,

That's actually a really terrible place to start. Leiter culls very very selectively there to make it seem like placement and being ranked high on the PGR correlate much more closely than they actually do. Here's a much better place to start:

http://www.newappsblog.com/2014/07/job-placement-2011-2014-comparing-placement-rank-to-pgr-rank.html

I won't go into a debate about methodology here, but two hugely important things that don't get factored into Leiter's list are quality of the placement director and how hard the faculty work to get their graduates jobs. My own PhD granting program punches way below it's weight and its at least partially because our placement director is worse than incompetent. (Seriously our PD gives very little advice but what little we did get was terrible.) You also need to factor in the fact that continental focused programs often don't give a shit about the PGR. Nor do a lot of SLACs. It's pretty likely that if you got to a top 10 school you'll get a TT job, but beyond that generalization it seems to me that getting a TT job is just a crap shoot. Albeit one you can better your odds in to some degree.

Derek Bowman said...

If we're going to have a real representation of hiring in the profession, more people - especially those hired as adjuncts or in other undesirable (or perceived as undesirable) positions - need to start entering their information at the PhilJobs placement page.

But I'm not sure if that's going to happen. I wanted to pioneer posting adjunct appointments there last year, but mine wasn't, in one sense, a new position, since it was a continuation from the previous year (of course, in another sense, each semester is a new 'appointment' for adjunct positions).

But I think a combination of shame and hope keep too many adjuncts from wanting to publicize their employment situation. And others (such as those hired at community colleges) may not feel connected enough to the profession as a whole to want to list their posting on such a site.

zombie said...

I agree with you there Derek.

I also think it would be nice if PhilJobs didn't categorize those appointments as "Other," which is kind of marginalizing, IYAM.

Perhaps call them "Term Appointments" or some such.

Anonymous said...

Zombie,

They should be called what the colleges call them. Let's not try to put lipstick on a pig. Abusive hiring practices should be called out as such.

That said, I'm sympathetic to those who would rather not have their names associated with such positions, as many in the field will view such jobs as a sign of failure.

zombie said...

8:09 - the colleges don't call them "Other" positions. I was looking for a category that would encompass VAPs, adjuncts, instructors, lecturers. Term Appointments seemed appropriate (although oher places, like Canada, call them "sessional").

I was also considering the fact that it really would be useful to get some data on the numbers, and the people in these positions, and removing a marginalizing category name might be an admittedly small step towards de-marginalizing that part of the profession. Which I would take to be a good thing. I'm not ashamed that I was an adjunct, and I wouldn't be ashamed of a VAP appointment either.

Anonymous said...

"I was looking for a category that would encompass VAPs, adjuncts, instructors, lecturers."

And I think we should preserve the variety of titles and positions by listing them separately.

I believe one reason why there are so many titles is because it keeps such faculty running in the hamster wheel. I teach in a state system that hires faculty to part-time "term appointments," which can then be "promoted" into 3-year renewable appointments which, after a time, can be promoted again to full-time Lectureships. It takes more than a decade to earn enough time to make it up this ladder, and the only increase in pay comes with the chance to teach more courses (but the base pay per course remains unchanged). So while it sounds like a way to move up in the department, it really isn't, and some people waste a good chunk of their lives working toward a meaningless promotion.

-8:09

zombie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zombie said...

Philjobs could make the Appointments section conform to the job listing categories, which are: Tenure-Track, Senior faculty, Limited term/postdocs, and All other jobs (which includes administrative positions, editorial, studentships, etc.)

Derek Bowman said...

@8:09: There's no reason you couldn't both list the institutional title and have a category into which they fit.

The problem with using the institutional titles for categorization is that they are too inconsistent to permit useful comparisons. At my present institution the "Adjuncts" are term-limited, full-time, benefits positions, while the "Lecturers" are part-time, term-by-term contract employees.

Anonymous said...

"The problem with using the institutional titles for categorization is that they are too inconsistent to permit useful comparisons."

This is not accidental. There's a very good reason why universities (at least in the States; I understand titles are different in the UK) all agree on what to call tenure-track faculty, and have no consistency with respect to non-tenure-track faculty.

-8:09

zombie said...

"There's a very good reason why universities (at least in the States; I understand titles are different in the UK) all agree on what to call tenure-track faculty, and have no consistency with respect to non-tenure-track faculty."

I doubt it's a "very good reason" or that there is some conspiracy at work there. I don't think the inconsistency is as great as you make it out to be.

There's a lot of consistency about the VAP designation. "Lecturer" and "instructor" are less consistently used across institutions, although where they are used, they designate a particular rank in the particular institution's hierarchy and system (and typically designate FT, salaried). "Adjunct," to my understanding, generally refers to PT rather than FT faculty (and is non-salaried, pay-per-class). Adjuncts are sometimes called Adjunct professor or instructor or lecturer, again, with some institutional variations, and, as 8:09 points out, different institutions might have different structures in place for advancement, sometimes to "permanent" status.

Internationally, things get way more complicated.

Anonymous said...

The designations are often misleading. I can think of two people off the top of my head who are paid per course adjuncts but their departments allow them to call themselves Visiting Assistant Professors to help sweeten the deal of an otherwise crappy situation.

Anonymous said...

And I know of at least one institution that hires what are effectively multi-year contract VAPs (full time, salaried, with service responsibilities), but calls them "instructors." "Professor" is reserved only for tt or tenured positions.

Derek Bowman said...

I agree that it'd be silly to think the variety of terms was a product of any widespread attempt at obfuscation. But I don't think it's precisely an 'accident,' since I think it's a predictable result of the fact that these positions have taken shape. At many institutions their current institutional form arose haphazardly often by the misuse or overuse of positions that were originally intended for other purposes.

For example, many VAP positions are rational ways of handling sabbatical replacements, and course-by-course adjuncts are a good way to get teachers with specific industry or government ties to cover one or two classes in their area of practice.

So I think the variety of nomenclature is predictable precisely because of its non-deliberateness.

Anonymous said...

"I was looking for a category that would encompass VAPs, adjuncts, instructors, lecturers."

I'm in general agreement that this is useful, but I'd subdivide things one cut further: between full-time salaried positions (most VAPs) and adjunct work that pays per class. They're importantly different.

Anonymous said...

At my stateside institution, adjuncts are salaried and full time and on a year-to-year contract. We have a different name altogether for by-the-course instructors. It's a terrible nomenclature.

zombie said...

Yeah, that category of term-limited appointments is hot mess. So I'm sticking with Term Appointments for my Fantasy Philosophy Jobs game.

Anonymous said...

To bring up an older topic on drinking - I was just at a fly out and was talking to the secretary of the department. In the hush-hush she gave me a bit of advice in prep for the evening's dinner: "Do. not. drink."

Apparently, an earlier interviewee for a different position had bombed what was initially a great interview and went from top to bottom in terms of choice.

At dinner, no one drank nor did I. To be honest, though, I would have had one drink (despite her advice) if everyone else had been drinking -- but I would have also kept it at that.

So, in my opinion, the idea of drinking should not necessarily be to avoid drinking entirely. Instead, I think you should treat the drink like coffee or tea. If no one wants tea, don't make everyone watch you drink it. If everyone is having tea, have a cup - and don't drink the pot!

Anonymous said...

I just got back from the most bizarre on campus interview that I have ever had or heard about. I had a twenty minute writing assignment, a nine question panel in which my responses were timed (there was very little interaction from the search committee as I gave my responses), and a teaching demonstration. The search committee was made up of various faculty members plus a Dean. At the end of that part of the interview, the Dean told me that local candidates would be interviewed on a specific date in the future. He explained what the process was for hiring and final decision-making, and that I would be notified early next week. I then had a two hour wait to meet the President and Vice President. I waited on campus to meet with the administration. That interview was less formal because my responses were not timed and the President and Vice President interacted with me during my responses, but there were twelve pre-set questions. At the end of that meeting the President reiterated the same timeline and process that the Dean gave me at the end of the first interview, but with a little more detail. It was explained by the President that all the out of state candidates were interviewed on the day I interviewed and that in state candidates would be interviewed on the same date stated by the Dean. The President also said that I would hear something early next week.
I flew home (across the country) the next morning. Five minutes after I landed, I got the standardized rejection email. I literally had not left the airport in my home city before I got the PFO. The timing of the email came less than 24 hours after first interview started.
Has anyone else had an experience like this? Is this an indication that my interview went so poorly that the search committee and the President decided to by-pass the hiring process to reject me? I did not think my interview went that badly, but maybe I’m wrong. The first interview felt awkward to me. It felt somewhat like that scene in “Flashdance” where Alex is auditioning for the Conservatory. I fumbled a question that I was not expecting, but I attempted to rally. I left the second interview with a much better feeling, in part because there was interaction between me and my interviewers. (The teaching demonstration felt like pulling teeth to get the committee to interact.)
I have to say that I feel like I was duped. I prepped hard for this interview-I studied the school (course catalogue, faculty handbook, etc.), made up syllabi for courses they wanted me to teach that I had not taught before, and got to the campus several hours early so I could talk with students and get a feel for the campus. I put a lot of work into learning about them, but feel like I was just being put through the motions. Any thoughts, smokers?