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Wow that is really interesting that search committees are forced to interview a certain number of candidates. I'v definitely had interviews where I got the strong impression I was number 12 on the list, and that there was nothing I could say that would change anybody's mind. This is not only a waste of time but pretty immoral to the candidates. Interviews take a ton of time and emotional energy, and it is pretty messed up to lead vulnerable people on like that. Obviously, if there is nothing search committees can do then that is that. But there should be some effort to change it. I am not sure how I feel about going straight to flyouts. For schools that fly out 4 people that seems good. But if you only fly out two that is a different story. I was actually surprised to learn that even big research schools sometimes fly out 3 candidates. I was under the false impression that all schools flew out 4!


We (an R1) almost never fly out 4, because our admin will only pay for 3. We could fly out 4 but we have to come up with the money to do that, and we have on occasion only flown out 2 if we think they're clearly above the rest. But 3 fly outs is the most common. We don't usually do preliminary interviews, either. Most of my colleagues think they're mostly noise.

Marcus Arvan

Our university policy is to only fly out 2. It is very rare to fly out more than that, and that only occurs (or so I have heard) when both of the candidates flown out either turn down the job or are judged unacceptable by the hiring committee.

slac chair

We do not do first round interviews. Nor do we have the search committee pick the finalists. We have the search committee pick a long list, then the entire department looks over the dossiers of those on the long list and votes to bring a few to campus. I've noticed that many candidates think they have been chosen by the committee, which is not true. So - not every department works the same way.

I would really emphasize Marcus's first point. And the lesson here is that it's nothing about you, the candidate. There is so much randomness to this process.

Most of Marcus' other points match my experience, except for the "who can we get" one. We realize that the job market is horrible, so we bring in whomever we want. Sometimes they're from a good but not top-10 program, sometimes they're from the top 3. Sometimes we lose our preferred candidate to an Ivy or whatever, sometimes we don't! (We're a bit lucky in that if we don't fill a line, we know we can get the search again, so we might be an anomaly.)

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