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Marcus Arvan

J: 100% right.

On the Market

While I 100% agree with all the concerns raised regarding bias in Skype/Zoom/Video interviews, I also worry about not having any contact with a department to vet THEM before a longer and more comprehensive campus interview. I also worry that there are mutually bad fits that could have been avoided by mutual contact prior to a visit - is the solution phone interviews? What other mechanisms could improve the process without the pitfalls?


On the market. I don't think skype interviews eliminate the potential bad fit. And I think most job candidates are desperate enough for a job that I would be surprised if it wasn't an extremely rare circumstance in which a skype interview convinced someone to not take the job.

I think via CVs and other application material, the job search committee can get a pretty good idea if someone is a horrible fit. Likewise, by looking at the add and other online info, candidates can get a good idea of whether the department is a bad fit. Moreover, in the rare circumstances in which this isn't figured out, it almost certainly will be on the campus visit. And a department flys out 2-4 candidates, so there will be another candidate to choose from if it is a bad fit. I guess the job candidate would have made an unnecessary trip, but agin, I think it is very rare where a candidate would reject a job that they felt comfortable applying to and flying out to in the first place. We can't control for every possibility in life.


@Amanda: Agreed- it might not be a deal breaker for the candidate even if they Skype and get a "bad fit" vibe but then get an on campus interview request. I would think it worth still going to that interview (unless a disaster occurred during the Skype or the interviewers seems like truly intolerable humans). But I do think it makes it hard to take the temperature of the search/committee without that data going in, if you don't Skype first. So I think there can be value for the candidate to have this layer. What I should say is: I (personally) found Skype interviews helpful as the job candidate, and definitely helped me learn important data that contributed to my search process. And are they also arbitrary and biased? Hell yes. To be clear: I am interested in the fit assessment from the candidate perspective, not the hiring committee perspective.


This is my first year on the market and my results have been unexpectedly promising so far: 10 first-round interviews, 2 of which have resulted in campus visit invitations. But I am extremely burned out and unhappy. I have a hard time managing my anxiety and I feel like I can't survive until the end of the job season. I keep thinking that I sent out too many applications, many of which turned out to be good enough fits to get me Skype interviews but not quite good enough fits to get me to the next level. When I was sending the applications it didn't seem like it was much work to send the same material to yet another school, but I have found the doing of the Skype interviews to be terribly taxing. Even after having done quite a few of them, the preparation before each interview and then getting over the painful sense of cringe and obsessing over how it went afterward takes more than a day. And I actually think I have become worse in emotionally handling the interviews since I started, and I am worried that having overburdened myself will hurt my chances for positions that really are a good fit for me (some of which are still up for grabs). So part of me thinks I should be more selective as I go forward and even turn down some interviews if I don't think I have a good chance in them and am not that excited about the position in the first place. But then again the job market is so terrible that I can't bring myself to do that. The advice from people with more experience also seems to be that you never know what the search committees are looking for and you should take all the chances that you get. So I am wondering if anyone has any experience or advice about whether saying no to an interview invitation is such a crazy idea.

Marcus Arvan

worsted: I empathize, as I was in a similar position my final year on the market. I turned down a few interviews for the sake of my own sanity. Given how well you’ve done on the market this year, it seems plausible you’ll do well next year even if you don’t get something permanent this time around. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Do what you feel like you need to do to protect your own well-being!

driving miss daisy

One thing you can do is not take the interviews so seriously. You may find this relaxed attitude actually leads to a better interview result, moving you on to the next phase.
By analogy, I was very nervous when I took my driver's test. Within the first minute the tester was very critical, leading me to believe that I had already failed. So I just said, I might as well just do the test now, as practice. To my surprise, at the end he said I passed!


On the market: Interesting. I'm glad you got valuable information out of them. I don't think I ever did. But then again, I never got a campus visit after a skype interview. As things are now, some departments do them and some don't. So maybe it actually optimal to have this variety, given different preferences, skills, and styles of candidates. Maybe. I still personally think eliminating them would be better. But I'm open to that other side.


Worsted: I would be more selective with your initial application. While, yeah, there is always that one in a million story of a job advertised in ethics that hired a metaphysician, I think those cases are extremely rare, and the vast majority of jobs are given to those who are a good fit - both re the speciality, and the research and teaching profile of the candidate in respect to the institution. So just apply to those that are the best fits. The problem with applying and then turning down interviews, is that first, there will be incredible pressure to take the interview if offered. There is not any pressure like that re just applying for the job. Second, even if you do resist the pressure and turn down the interview anyway, the stress it caused you to do that might be as bad as the interview. Even more, word might get around that you turned down interviews, which in many respects that I won't go into, can be a bad thing. I feel very strongly that candidates should not apply to jobs if they are very confident the location or the particular position would make them miserable. Once a job is offered, there is all the pressure in the world to take it. I feel very lucky that a particular job to which I had a flyout to was never offered to me, because I would have taken it and been miserable.

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