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11/23/2020

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checking website hits is bad

I have also had the (bad) habit of checking website visits, and generally it's only served to get my hopes up and make me anxious. I once saw a flurry of visits from the domain of a department where I had applied, only to find later that I didn't get an interview. Another time I saw the same thing, and I did get the interview - but not the job. And I've gotten interviews from places that apparently never visited my website once (not to mention departments that have neither interviewed me nor visited my website). There is no discernable pattern.
Nor have I learnt my lesson: after years on the market, checking my website hits and various other job-market related pages (including this one) has become a kind of obsessive compulsion for me, something I do almost without thinking. I think it's because there is so much uncertainty in this process, and so I find myself clinging to whatever tiny extra bits of information I can get my hands on, whether it's website hits, downloads on philpapers, updates to job-market wikis, or even just checking email. It's probably the number one way that being on the job market has negatively affected my mental health. I really wish I had never started this habit, because it's become very hard to break.

Former Chair

I agree, this is definitely not worth stressing over. It's impossible to determine what the visits might mean.

I've looked at websites a few times. Typically I go to a website when someone mentions an interesting paper or class assignment and I want to download it and learn more. More often than not, this is for personal-professional reasons. The paper might be related to my research or teaching responsibilities, or I may want to borrow the assignment for use in my own classes. This counts in a candidate's favor, of course. But as Marcus says, this doesn't mean the candidate is under serious consideration then or later, as there are always a lot of other factors in play, too.

Sometimes site visits are pretty arbitrary. Several years ago, I was a grad student rep on a tenure stream search committee. One candidate under serious consideration got a lot of visits to her site because of her dogs. She was already a top candidate, and then one committee member let us know that there were several pics of her dogs on her website. Everyone wanted a look at that point.

P

One reason to look at a website is to find a picture of the candidate to discern whether they are visibly a minority (in philosophy that also includes women). There is so much pressure to increase diversity in hiring, yet search committees do not get access to candidate self-reporting on the issue. This leaves search committees in a bind: interview a more diverse pool of candidates without being given information on who qualifies as fitting this pool. It would be interesting to discuss this more, and my thoughts on this are far from established, but I recognize that this can be one reason to visit a candidates website. Otherwise (besides making inferences from names), it is not clear how a search committee can be sure to diversify its pool of interviewees.

Mike Titelbaum

Here's another, very stupid reason why I might visit a candidate's website: I'm terrible about remembering names, and I might see on your cv that we attended the same conference, so I might go look at your picture to try to remember any interactions I had with you.
Which is all just to reinforce the comments above that you shouldn't read too much into these things. The job market process is incredibly hard on people: It's a high-pressure, high-stakes situation over which you have little control and during which you receive little information. I obsessed just as much as everyone else when I was on the market. But there's always hope you can be better than I was!

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