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« Reflections on my upcoming 40th birthday, hitting targets, and our relevance in the profession | Main | Job-market reporting thread (2018-19 season) »

08/13/2018

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SLAC tenured professor & chair

We always aim to get 10 people for skype interviews, but end up extending to include 12-14 because its easier to include extra people than it is to come to an agreement about how to narrow it down.

We always start with 3 on campus interviews and only get permission to bring out more if they aren't viable candidates.

Job seeker

Agreed with Anon, roughly. I'd say for skype interviews 12-15, and for on campus, 3-4. (I've never known a school to do more than 4, but my experience isn't super extensive.)

Anon

We only Skype interview 6 or 7, and our administration has a policy of only approving 2 on-campus visits.

Amanda

I've hard 10-16 for skype and 2-4 for flyouts. Most of the flyouts I've gone to have had 3.

yetanotheranon

Original anon poster asking about the numbers on Skype interviews. Thanks to all for the responses! Helpful to know, if for no other reason than just to gauge how one is doing if one makes it into at least the first round..

Mercado Ubër

If the Barnard job had 580 applicants and it was an open job, does anyone have a sense of how many applicants there will likely be for the R1 phil race jobs?

davidlewis

What does it mean when a job has sent out formal rejections and skype interviews but I have heard nothing (online application still says it's under review)?

Marcus Arvan

davidlewis: hard to say. However, it’s possible in principle for a committee to keep someone on their list in case none of the people they interview first work out. If that happens, a committee might go back to the pool of applicants and choose additional people to interview. I don’t think this is very common, but it can happen.

interviewing

What do you all think constitutes a memorable and good kind of answer to the interview question, "where do you see yourself in 5 years?" The job in question is TT at a research school, so it's not much of a leap to think that one of my 5-years-hence aspirations is being on the tenure track at that institution - but does that even bear mentioning? I suspect part of the point of this question for this particular search committee is to get a sense of who I am, and how I see philosophy fitting into my life as a whole, but it seems wise to keep the focus on philosophy-related ambitions, and to be as specific as possible, within reason. What else should I be keeping in mind? Thanks, all!

Amanda

interviewing: at an R1 I always interpreted that question as a research question and answered giving plans about my research projects. For instance, "In my AOS my hope is to have a contract with a top press on such and such topic. I also hope to have a few articles out about such and such in my AOC." I don't think they are trying to ask you anything personal or about "philosophy fitting into my life as a whole." Guess I could be wrong but the answers seemed to work for me.

interviewing

Amanda, thanks for this! I totally agree it makes a lot of sense to interpret it as a research question, but there are a few reasons (based on a conversation with the SC chair) behind my thinking the question might be sort of personal. Perhaps a better way to put it is I think they might be trying to gauge who's a flight risk (it's an R1 but not a Leiterific one), and are looking for a colleague's who's a great researcher and is also genuinely interested in the kind of life available in that location.

anonymous

Mercado: I can tell you some numbers I know of for recent years. A job in a desirable location (not R1, but low teaching load, large urban area) that had an AOS in phil race (only) a couple years ago had about 80-85 applicants. An R1 job in a large urban/desirable area in social or political philosophy had about 270 applicants. Neither of these are this year. But both in the past couple of years.

anonymous

p.s. I didn't see any R1 jobs in (only) phil race this year, which is why I gave numbers for both the narrower and the broader versions of your question.

J

@interviewing -- I would see it as an invitation to show that you are ready with a research program that goes beyond "publishing out of my dissertation". Talk about what's next.

Mercado Ubër

Anonymous, thanks for the info on these applicant pools!

Do you know roughly how many of the applicants for the phil race job (not an R1) seemed like they actually specialized in philosophy of race?

I've heard that many phil-race-applicant-pool members are, say, ethicists or political philosophers who are presenting themselves as philosophers of race. So, I guess, I am trying to get a sense of how deep the qualified applicant pool is?

Sissy Fuss

What do you do when you get the "how would you teach intro" question? I can see at least three ways of answering this:

1) give the "classic" intro syllabus, heavy on M+E and historical texts, with some value theory thrown in

2) an intro syllabus substantially based around your AOS/whatever teaching needs they have advertised

3) a bold thematic or topic-based course on something that you've been thinking about but isn't necessarily represented in your AOS/AOC. I'm thinking something that might be really cool but also might seem completely off-the-wall to some, e.g. an intro course that has a weekly viewing of a horror film and organizes readings and discussions around the themes of these films.

These aren't the only strategies, but these are the ones I'm considering (I'm not considering the horror film one seriously...yet.) There are benefits and drawbacks to each strategy it seems, and a lot will depend on who is interviewing you. But in any case: thoughts on what strategy is best? Experiences with the "intro question?" Or other thoughts about how to answer that question?

Vampire killer

Sissy Fuss,
At many places, your horror film suggestion would be the nail in your coffin. Some questions are asked during interviews that give unstable or ... candidates a chance to tip their hands. This saves the department from having to deny them tenure later.

Big Brother Applicant

My web analytics (both for Academia.edu and my personal webpage) will sometimes show that someone from a school that I had applied to has found my page via a Google search. (Strictly speaking, I don't know that the searcher was from the school. Rather, I see that a searcher from City X as searched for me. And I know that I applied to a job in City X and that my website normally gets zero hits a month).

I know that it is probably best to just ignore these and that it does not mean anything definitive. But I was curious if I should consider this a positive sign (even if only a small one)? To those who have been on hiring committees, does doing a Google search on a candidate typically occur after the candidate has made some sort of initial cut? I'm speculating, but I doubt they do a search on every candidate when there are hundreds.

On a related note, why might a school do a Google search? Are they typically looking to make sure the candidate doesn't have some controversial online presence?

Amanda

Big Brother - when I was on the market, it was very common for me to get hits on academia.edu from University X right before an interview from University X. Of course, on occasion I would get hits and no interview.

Al

Sissy Fuss,
When people ask that question I think it is easy to hear it as 'what would you cover'. I don't think that is the way it is typically met. That's not how my previous institution meant it and when I was a first-time job seeker I asked a number of SLAC friends about a question like this. I think something like the following is a better strategy. Do mention some of the topics you might cover but use this as an opportunity to talk about your values and methods as a teacher. In my own case I talked the fact that I wanted students to come to question their own beliefs and come to the realization that issues are deeply complex and interconnected. Then I backed this up by talking about the ways in which I use topics in the philosophy of mind, free will, and religion to show these interconnections. Surely there are lots of ways this could go but the idea is, this isn't a question about what would you teach but rather what are your pedagogical values at the intro level and how do you achieve them.

Cleverly Disguised Mule

Does anyone else look at their materials after they've submitted and notice egregious typos? I just looked at one that had a very noticeable typo *in the very first sentence*. Oof.

This led me to wonder whether committees care about this sort of thing all that much. On the one hand, typos make an applicant look sloppy; and as Marcus has already said, they're often making decisions on the 'little things'. Obviously, we should all avoid typos whenever we submit applications for jobs, etc. etc. But on the other hand, I can't imagine that a single (even egregious) typo among many documents makes all that much of a difference. Plus, it strikes me as petty to count those sorts of things against a candidate, particularly when many of us are applying to ~75 jobs a season, each of which has a customized cover letter, etc.

I wouldn't say I'm stressed about this, so this isn't me crying out for folks to allay my concerns. (At any rate, the committee for whom I wrote the app I'm referring to has, I believe, already made their choice not to pursue me further.) I'm just curious if others had thoughts on this.

non-leiterific grad student

Big Brother - I just looked at my Academia analytics. I received hits from two universities to which I applied, and I didn't receive an interview at either place. That said, I suspect it means I was in the top 25 or so. Hopefully it means something better for you!

Amanda

My guess is whether typos matter varies be search committee member. It will bother some and not others. And if your application materials are otherwise wonderful, it probably won't be disqualifying. But in such tight competition, sure, it can make a difference.

another postdoc

Jumping on two points:

As in past years, I've had hits from several places I applied to. I've been invited to interview by about 50% of the places that've checked my website, maybe more when there are repeat visits.

Re: typos, I was interviewed by a place this year where I forgot to replace the name of the SLAC for my placeholder in my cover letter template! So it said, "I'm writing to apply for the position of Assistant Professor at [XXXX] University". That's pretty egregious and they got over it, although other committees might be put off by that.

David Lewis

Is it standard practice to update a search committee if you publish an additional article or if you receive a grant or something of the like? If so, what's the best way to go about doing this?

Mercado

Dear David Lewis,

Faculty advised me that if I get a publication or something similar, I should send the chair of the department an email asking her to inform the search committee.

Amanda

David Lewis: yes, I would inform them - if it is a research school. If a teaching school I would only inform theme if you are short on publications, as it might send the wrong message about what you care about. And I would just send a quick email to the chair of the search that says, "I just wanted to let you know that blah, blah. Not sure if it will be of relevance for your evaluation, but just in case, I would appreciate you informing the rest of the committee.

postdoc.1

I was recently notified that while I am not invited for a campus visit, I am in a group of three "alternates." I never heard of this practice. Can anyone explain why search committees would do this, and is it anything but extremely unlikely this would result in a job?

Another Unlucky Waitlister

postdoc: I've experienced that twice--once last year and once this year. I don't think it's super common, but it happens. It's basically like being waitlisted for an interview. I simply view them as a bit of disappointing encouragement (since I at least made to a shortlist), but I wouldn't hold my breath for an interview. My understanding is that it's very unlikely that jobs need to draw from their backup list of interviewees.

Correction

postdoc: Sorry. I misread your comment. I thought you were waitlisted for an first-round interview. I see you're talking about a campus visit. Coincidentally, I have also experienced that, too. For one job I interviewed for last year, I was told that I was not selected for a campus visit, but that I was still under consideration. And as it happened, someone backed out of their campus visit at the last minute and I was invited to take their spot. Again, it's unlikely that they'll need to turn to their alternates, but it can happen.

a human being

I got my job this way, and I know another person who was on the market the year I was who got her job this way. It happens. I wouldn't bank on it though! (In my case I wasn't notified of being an alternate, and I think she wasn't either--we both got what seemed like vague rejection emails, and then later got invited to fly out towards the end of the job cycle.)

anon

Oxford (Ancient) did the shortlist. (and I am not on it).

67 candidates.

Endless Apps

Here's something that may not seem like it matters, but I've been wondering whether it actually does: if you apply very close to the deadline, versus right when the job ad comes out, does this ever make a difference? I often apply with only a day or so before the deadline (though never after the date at which they guarantee full consideration).

Do early-applying candidates get any advantage? Or could there be an advantage in applying late? I'm completely in the dark on this one.

SLAC Tenured Professor & Chair

another_postdoc

Hahaha I think the XXXXXX comment was to my school. Yeah we got over it ;). I'd prefer applications to not have such errors, but people who'd seriously hold that against a good candidate seem crazy to me.

SLAC Tenured Professor & Chair

Endless Apps:

Not at my institution. The reality is, we expect a WHOLE bunch of good applications to come in at the last moment. That is just how things work.

The only people who apply very early are people who find the job on other sources than philjobs and who are generally, not particularly savvy or well qualified.

In short, keep doing what works for you and you'll be fine.

anon

I have an interview question. What kind of answer is suitable to the question "how would you balance teaching, research, and service?". Is this a question about time-management, priorities, or something else? Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

anon

Re: an earlier question by big brother.

Would there be anything on one's academia.edu page that would discourage any further pursuing of a candidate?

Should it be taken as a good sign that they are googling me or?

Don't Hit Refresh

anon (and Big Brother Applicant),

I wouldn't read too much into academia.edu or Google Analytics website visits. And when I say "I wouldn't," I actually mean "you shouldn't." I get my hopes up on the basis of such analytics all the time, and it's never panned out.


Anecdotally: Google Analytics indicates 40 visits to my website from 24 identifiable cities in the past 30 days. Of these, 9 are cities in which I applied for jobs--and a few of these are small, obscure towns with exactly one major college. 0 of the schools in these cities contacted me for jobs. In contrast, the 3 schools that *did* contact me for Skype interviews aren't in cities or towns anywhere near my academia.edu or Google Analytics hits. Oh, and there's nothing on my sites that isn't in my application materials, except a professional-looking of me and 8 extra publications.

anon

"In addition, a writing sample and three confidential letters of recommendation MUST BE MAILED to the Search Committee (Political/Law 2018), Department of Philosophy, 24 Kent Way, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716."

Most recent ad. from U of Delaware.

Two questions:

Are they serious?

If so, why?

significant other

At this point, if we have not heard from schools directly, but no results have been posted about that school on this page or phylo, should we assume a rejection from those schools? I have not heard from several schools who have not been reported yet on either of those pages, but it feels late to hear back. Any insight?

Anon

My own preferred strategy is to assume rejection. (Of course, it's possible that for various reasons a school might be moving slowly. But it's also possible that none of the people who got news posted about it online - if a school goes right to fly outs, for instance, fewer people are getting news overall, and not everyone posts to these sites.)

Amanda

1. It is not late to hear from schools. The last two years the majority of my first round interview request came after Jan. 5th. I had my last request for a TT job first round in March.

2. Everyone has their own way of dealing with the market, but I just can't wrap my head around the idea that some people keep a list of every job they applied to, and cross it off once they hear someone has an interview. This seems like an emotionally horrible way to have your hopes crushed again and again. I always assumed rejection as a default, and an interview request (or a job offer) was a happy surprise.

Michel

anon: Given the use of caps, I imagine they're serious, yes. As for why: couldn't say, except that it'll weed out the pool a bit. I certainly wouldn't go to all that trouble (and expense) unless I really wanted that particular job.

significant other: I'm with Anon. As I'm tailoring my cover letter and other materials, I assume I'm getting an interview/the job. As soon as it's sent, I assume I've been rejected. It's worth noting that it's still early to hear from applications due in December (or January, for that matter), though.

Amanda

My guess is Delaware is indeed serious. Maybe Michel is right about wanting to weed out people, or it could just be some silly administrative rule.

anon

re: I made the words in caps because the request appeared fairly ridiculous. That did not appear in the original.

I suspect they were serious. This post was somewhat in jest as I thought such a request was overly burdensome on candidates.

Anon

It definitely seems odd to me too - I've submitted just a couple paper applications in the past three years of many applications.

But just to give people a heads up if they didn't know, Interfolio can do paper deliveries too, so it's just as much work as an email delivery on the applicant's end - you don't need to go find some stamps etc.

anon

Does anyone have any thoughts about giving co-authored papers at on campus interviews? If so, does it make a difference if the writing sample for the application was sole-authored and/or if the candidate already has multiple sole-authored pubs?

Amanda

anon: there was recently a post on this. The consensus was, whether fair or not, using a co-authored paper for a sample or job talk is a really bad idea. Many search committee members have an extremely negative reaction.

anon

amanda: Thanks! I suspected this might be the case. I find it so strange that collaborative work is penalised in this way.

Amanda

Yes, it is unfortunate :(

During

It's because it's impossible to judge who did what. One candidate I remember had a lot of it but it turned out he was mainly the editor and writer, the other person had the ideas. It's like the Beatles - you want to hire Lennon or McCartney, perhaps maybe George, but not Ringo if what you looking for is a composer.

Amanda

Perhaps the market is different, but in general I hope people assume both authors contributed to the paper fairly equally, unless there is reason to think otherwise. If everyone is going to assume con-authored papers should have no career credit because you can't tell who did what - well, then those who need tenure should stay away from co-authoring until they are an associate. And I think that is bad for our profession, because co-authoring is good for the profession as a whole. People working together to come up with ideas often come up with better ones.

During

I think co-authoring is OK but not so obviously. It's not the same as in sciences, where, for example, the first name is the leader and so on. In any case, for many people, both historically and currently, philosophy and philosophical writing is a very personal experience. Obviously not for all, but much of great philosophy has a personal tone to it. So it would be like co-authoring a novel. In any case, it's one thing counting it for matters of tenure and promotion, another when you advertise yourself as a candidate. Great for CV, not for writing sample or talk

George

Perhaps search committees will tend to think like this:
Unless a co-authored paper that one presents is (a) truly groundbreaking or at least very strong, and (b) the committee has very credible evidence (what? a self-report from an author? from the letter of a biased recommender?) that a candidate is responsible for the groundbreaking nature of the work, it's safer to default to favoring someone who has presented interesting and novel single-authored work, even if the latter is not robustly groundbreaking.

Will (a) and (b) both usually be satisfied? Not obviously. If so, then perhaps one should present a single-authored paper unless the co-authored paper is way better (which, if known to the committee, perhaps might raise a red flag about why it is).

See it this way: Suppose you're on a committee and can take a person who presented a strong single-authored paper or someone who presented a stronger (but not much) co-authored paper. All else equal, whom would you favor? Though YMMV, probably the former, I'd think.

All else equal -- surely there are exceptional cases -- I don't see favoring a single-authored paper over a co-authored paper as clearly penalizing a candidate. It seems more like trying to account realistically for why the candidate didn't present one of presumably a few really good papers the candidate has rather than a paper of which the candidate presumably wrote roughly half.

Cleverly Disguised Mule

I have a job market question/issue that I suspect others have encountered as well.

How should one approach an application--in particular, the cover letter--for a school that has people working on issues *very, very close* to one's own research?

So suppose I'm applying to an ethics job at Cocoon University and I work on, e.g., naturalism in meta-ethics. But Professor X at Cocoon U who works on that same topic. My hunch is that this makes me less desirable to that department; but maybe not. Given that I'm applying either way, what should I do to make myself look more desirable? Do I emphasize my interest in future collaborations/discussions with Professor X? (How presumptuous of me to assume that Professor X wants to collaborate with anyone! Plus, doesn't this risk emphasizing my overlap with what their department already does?) Or do I try to illustrate the way my project is different from Prof X's? (This might involve going far into the weeds in a cover letter, which might turn off other committee members.) Or do I emphasize my other projects and interests? (This might make me look less serious about my naturalism project, which might look odd to some readers.)

I'm guessing the best approach lies somewhere in between these, but I'm not really sure how to navigate what seems to me to be a possible minefield.

If anyone has any specific ideas, I'd be very grateful.

Marcus Arvan

Cleverly Disguised Mule: I actually have some experience with the issues you raise. If you're cool with it, I'll run a new post discussing it--as I think it might benefit job-candidates.

Cleverly Disguised Mule

Of course. Thanks, Marcus!

Anon this time

3 people for on-campus interviews in my personal experience.

living in limbo

How long should someone expect to wait to hear "the news" after a fly out? What about after Skype interviews? I'm thinking it varies widely, but I'd love any info that might help me set reasonable expectations.

Relatedly, why are hiring departments so hesitant to give information about this sort of thing? What is the drawback to providing candidates with more information about when we can expect to hear?

Amanda

For flyouts it all depends if you were the first or the last person to come out. If you were the first it could be over a month. Skype usually two weeks or so...but there is a lot of variance. Also, if you didn't get the job (or didn't make it to the flyout) often you will not hear from them at all. I had this happen a lot, as rude as it is.

Apparently not a "preferred candidate"

Notre Dame just posted a very strange job advertisement (https://www.higheredjobs.com/search/details.cfm?JobCode=176899030). The job title says "PLS, Visiting Assistant Special Professional, Bugyis, Eric-Preferred Candidate." I was confused, so I googled "Eric Bugyis" and it turns out he's a current fellow at Notre Dame. Did someone mess up and literally name their "preferred candidate" as part of the job title? That's the only way I can make sense of the job posting title. This is incredibly discouraging for us on the market who worry about "inside candidates" for job postings.

Apparently not a "preferred candidate"

I'm open to other explanations about the Notre Dame position, but I can't think of any. I think we should all apply to that job, but write cover letters where we explicitly compare ourselves to this Eric guy. Haha. (FYI, I don't blame him. Please no one give him a hard time about it. He's one of us--just a philosopher [or theologian] trying to make it in this crazy market.)

Apparently not a "preferred candidate"

Link correction:
https://www.higheredjobs.com/search/details.cfm?JobCode=176899030

Nh

Lol job posting has been pulled.

Nh

I take it back -- posting is still up, but the link above is faulty.

anon

I've seen institutions in my area post lists of "expected hires" and seniority rankings of various adjuncts at the same time as posting job ads (all of this in accordance with a collective agreement.) But I haven't seen that sort of ad go to websites like Philjobs etc.

Amanda

hahaha that's really funny. Wow. And yeah, obviously they plan to hire Eric and it was a mess up. If schools were just allowed to hire who they want instead of forced to do a search this stuff wouldn't happen.

Michel

I doubt it was unintentional. I've seen the preferred candidate named in a few ads over years.

Amanda

Michel why on earth would they embarrass themselves and their candidate like that? To get less applicants? But they are already going to ignore them, anyway.

uncertain

A bit of a longer strategic question from an ABD, if anyone can/wouldn't mind to offer advice:

I'm finishing my PhD at the end of this academic year. During the course of my doctoral program, I taught a pretty substantial number of courses (~20). In order to really get my head down and focus on the dissertation, I took a humble non-academic job (far away from my grad institution) which turned out to be an even luckier find than I'd imagined, since it allows me to write uninterrupted for the vast majority of an 8 hour workday. The job, which is permanent and there as long as I want to work it, gives me at least enough to live on--a bit more than I would be able to pull down if I were teaching even 3-4 courses a term as an adjunct--plus benefits, and clearly allows me to be very productive in terms of scholarship. This on the one hand makes for a good situation in applying for jobs in that I'll have lots of time (and mental space...) to work things up to send to journals, to say nothing of putting together job applications themselves.

On the other hand, though, I'm worried about my teaching experience going "stale." While there is a sizable state university nearby, their philosophy enrollments crashed so badly a few years back that they can't even fill their tenured faculty's schedules, so there is pretty much no chance of any adjunct work either there or at any other school within about 80 miles. Can anyone speak to how recent teaching experience needs to have been before it starts raising questions? I'm trying to figure out if it's essential that I get myself in some other location to adjunct, or in a full time teaching position through a VAP, in the very near future. My worry about taking a VAP, though, is that in my current circumstances I at least have health insurance, job security, and so on, while it seems that there's a pretty good chance I might find myself completely out of luck at the end of a contract position, subsisting by draining my savings/adjuncting/working minimum wage/etc, and wishing I had the safe job again. Basically, I don't know how important it is to make the gamble here. Can anybody, say people who have been on committees or been in similar positions themselves, offer a bit of perspective and guidance?

Many thanks, Cocoon.

Amanda

As far as teaching experience going stale, I think you have a couple of years. My teaching experience was a few years stale and it didn't hurt me. You already have a lot of experience, and that should be what matters. The bigger worry is simply being out of academia. Now if the job is something you could sell as somewhat relevant to academics, some type of government research, then you would be okay. But it sounds like you have some type of minimum wage job where you don't really do anything, which while great for writing, might raise worries on the job search. It's really hard to say as each search committee member will react differently, some will have issues and some won't. I would think you should have at least a year where it doesn't hurt too much. You could try to get some teaching work online, remotely.

Michel

Amanda: I think it's just required by HR advertising regs or state law or whatever in some places if you want to convert a NTT line to a TT line.

Uncertain: I've had a few interviews at teaching-heavy schools despite my experience being a few years stale (and not especially extensive). It probably doesn't hurt that I develop several new syllabi every year, though.

uncertain

Amanda and Michel, thanks for your input. It sounds like I have a little bit of time post-dissertation to figure something out, at least.

elisa freschi

uncertain, in my experience it does not hurt as long as you are ABD, whereas people will start asking questions as soon as you are done with your PhD thesis and have one or more years away from teaching and academic life.

Recent Grad

Uncertain,

I'd be hesitant to give up your current job for anything short of a permanent position. Given the atrocious state of the market, the odds aren't good (for any of us), and it sounds like you've managed to find a job that provides you the freedom to keep participating in the world of Academic philosophy (if you so choose) without sacrificing stability, retirement, and affordable health-care. I'd consider that a lucky find these days. Just out of curiosity, what line of work is it?

uncertain

Elisa and Recent,

Thanks, also, for your responses. My hope was that my ABD years wouldn't count, especially since a good number of grad students barely do any teaching at all in their programs, and are often on some kind of fellowship at the end.

Recent, technically I do work for a university, but in its library, doing "research support" -- interlibrary lending, mostly, but some consultation with students and faculty. It's honestly accidentally turned out to be a great gig for my purposes, as I have faculty-level library privileges and a ton of time to do research. One's mileage will surely vary academic library to academic library, but this has treated me well so far, and it might be something for others to look into as a fall back which, as you say, still lets them do some of what they actually want to do with their lives.

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