Monday, November 30, 2015

Eastern APA -- Should you go?

Interview season begins soon. (Or is already underway -- I had a first-round in October, others seem to be scheduling, according to the wiki.) Eastern APA is now in early January, having moved from the much-reviled end-of-year holiday squeeze. It no longer functions as a major job market stop, with fewer and fewer search committees, it appears, opting to do first-round interviews in person. All to the good. The cost and hassle of traveling to E-APA for job interviews, particularly in an ever-tightening market, was a substantial burden to many job-seekers.

In grad school, an advisor told me to never go to E-APA unless I had interviews, and I never have. My first trip there, in 2009, I had one. It was a pretty miserable interview, with a fairly obnoxious search committee. No fly-out. My last trip to E-APA was in 2010 -- the year of the Boston snowpocalypse. As I recall, that year I had three interviews. None of them resulted in a fly-out either, but I did get a TT job at a university that skipped first rounds entirely and went straight to fly-outs. I was fortunate that the E-APA locations during my years were drivable for me, and I didn't have to fork over a ton of money to go.

In the years since, there's been a big shift towards phone or Skype interviews. I've applied for jobs here and there, and in every case where I was offered APA or Skype, I opted for Skype. In every case, I also got a fly-out. As I discussed here last year, I haven't personally encountered any drawbacks to interviewing via Skype instead of in person.

I see some job ads, though, in which the committee announces that they will be doing interviews at E-APA. Some also note that they'll offer a Skype option in special cases. If there's a Skype option, I say take it, unless you're planning to go to E-APA anyway. The dilemma occurs when the department insists on E-APA interviews, or nothing, and you are not otherwise going. Is it worth going? Going into debt? When you're one of maybe 12 first-round candidates, and a typical 3 will get a fly-out, you have 1:3 odds of being a finalist, which isn't terribly bad (unless you're one of the 9 who didn't succeed). You have 1:2 odds of success at the fly-out (assuming 3 finalists), with a significant difference being that the department (usually) pays your way to the campus visit (and if they don't, screw 'em). Are you feeling lucky?

Good luck with those interviews!

This is an open discussion thread.