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09/08/2021

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TT faculty

flyouts: In my flyouts, the dean/provost meetings have been for my information, not theirs. That's what they've said, and despite my best efforts, they have all just talked at me basically, telling me HR things and the like. Maybe you could ruin a candidacy in one of these ("Want to see a magic trick?"), but my sense is that otherwise, they don't play much role in decision-making. (And, fwiw, I have never heard anything substantive from a dean/provost in the times I've been on the hiring side.)

mhm

@flyouts: agree with everything TT faculty said above, but at least at the Catholic SLAC, I'd expect a question from the dean like "Why this school/job?"

anon

I've had extremely different interviews with R1 dean/provosts vs. SLAC dean/provosts. My R1 dean experience basically as TT faculty describes above - here's the chart of salaries, here's the list of benefits, etc. Felt like a total formality.

But the SLAC experience was entirely different - this one had questions about my research and teaching, and one about - it was something about the "arc of my life story" and why working at their institution was the next right thing to happen in my life, or something like that. And I also had the sense from the committee that this was a person I should care about impressing.

anon californian

at both the flyouts I had (both R1s) I was basically re-interviewed by the dean, so I think there is a lot of variation given what the above two posters say. I'd be prepared to talk about your research and teaching to someone who is probably not a philosopher, and to have things to say about university or college level things you would be interested in doing, interdisciplinary stuff, etc.

FC

@flyouts: I agree with TT faculty and mhm.

However, one time, I was asked something like "why philosophy?", and I responded with something like "queen of the sciences." She paused and then said, "no, it's math." Her field. We sparred good-naturedly for a moment and then turned to the HR stuff.

aesthetician with a temporary job

@flyouts I agree that administrators at Catholic schools will probably ask you to say something about 1) the Catholic intellectual tradition or 2) the specific mission of the order that sponsors the school. Maybe a dean at Georgetown wouldn't ask this - but, then again, maybe they would.

Most of the time, I think this is a fit question, not a statement of faith question. They want to know if you "get" what's important about the way they go about their work.

Last time I interviewed at a Catholic school the provost asked this question. The provost wanted to do some philosophy (they were also a member of the sponsoring order, which I think makes a difference). The dean, on the other hand, did a poor job assuring me the school was solvent. In that meeting, I was there to be talked at.

deans

@flyouts, I have limited experience so far, but so far I have had two different types of dean experiences. In one, it felt like an interview -- they asked me everything from how I got into philosophy to my commitment to DEI, and why I was interested in the school. (There was a short amount of time for questions at the end.) In the other, it was mainly an opportunity to get information, especially about resources & mentorship for new junior faculty. I have also heard that these often function as "pitch" of the school. I would be prepared for both ends of the spectrum: something that feels like an interview and something that feels purely informative on your end, just in case.

Curious about others' experience/advice, as I also have some more coming up!

Faux Job Add

@ Cognate discipline villain: I know of 2 real cases (at different universities on different continents) in which this has happened in the last few years. The institutions were required by HR to advertise the job, but they ultimately hired the person they more or less promised the position to. Since this is usually kept secret (and would be horrible for a university and the candidate to have it publicly revealed), it’s very unlikely that we’ll ever know if any given job ad is for a job with a predetermined candidate. My guess is that it’s not terribly common, but my knowing 2 real cases of this is very peculiar to me (perhaps I’m just a good secret keeper and that’s why I know of 2 cases at all!). It’s probably not representative of anything.

Busy deans

In my experience, Dean/provost/president interviews tend to be the most variable. Some are just formalities. Others actually want to ask you things. The good news is that the vast majority of these meetings don't seem to factor much into the hiring decisions. Most of the time, the dean isn't on the hiring committee. They just have to approve the hire. Basically, as long as you seem remotely personable, the dean is likely to just go along with whoever the committee picks.

As that said, in terms of tips, keep in mind that the Deans tend to be busy with something or another, and some won't want to waste their time interviewing you at all. Twice I had deans end my interview meeting early because something random came up. Just roll with it if that happens. It doesn't affect the outcome at all.

SLAC Associate

@I hate this all:

I don't think that's all that typical as a response from a hiring department, but I've seen it happen before (it actually happened to me a number of years back where I got a late offer from a place after their chosen candidates bailed on them). But from your end, you have no idea what it might mean. Maybe the committee wanted to flyout three candidates, but the dean only approved an initial two, you're #3, and the committee is still trying to change the dean's mind. Or if it's a less prestigious kind of place, maybe the committee is worried their top picks will go elsewhere and they'll have to return to the interview pool, and so don't want to turn candidates off with an outright rejection. Or maybe the committee was too cowardly to just say that you're out of consideration. The problem is that there's no way to know from your end which of those possibilities is the case here. I'd advise treating it like a rejection now, move on emotionally, and enjoy the happy surprise if you hear positive news back from them later.

I hate this all

@SLAC Associate Thanks for that. What's especially frustrating and confusing is that I was lucky enough to get a few first round interviews and received this sort of you're-not-a-finalist-but-keep-us-updated rejection from all but one one them. That's why I thought maybe it was regular for committees to send this to everyone they Zoom interviewed. So maybe it means they liked me enough they didn't want to eliminate me right away, but not enough to spend a first round fly-out on me. I guess in some ways that's an okay place to be, but ugh. Just tell me no and don't mess with my head for any longer than you truly need to. Yeeeesh.

On the market

I'm curious: When places do zoom 'flyouts', do they then actually bring out the candidate they offer the job to? Or is there an expectation that you would start (and thus potentially finish) your career in a city you've never been to?

visits

@on the market: a few places that are doing virtual fly outs explicitly mentioned the possibility of visiting in person if one gets an offer (presumably on the school's dime). So it's worth asking! I think in the worst case, one could visit the city on one's own, but it'd of course be better if the school sponsored it.

This is of course assuming there is enough time before the offer needs to be accepted/declined, but my impression is that -- at least in the US (but not the UK, from my understanding) -- candidates usually have a few weeks before deciding?

decisions

If one is interviewing at several schools and receives an offer from one of them while still in the interview process with others, what is the proper etiquette? How should one proceed in regards to a) the school that made the offer, and b) the other potential jobs?

This also alludes to what "visits" said above. How long is usually permitted for this kind of decision? Especially given that it involves moving, and often with family, too.

SLAC Associate

@decisions: The proper etiquette and the best strategy all around is to be forthright with all the places you're interviewing with if you get an offer from one institution. Tell the schools you're interviewing with that you have an offer on the table, and tell the school who made the offer that you are also under consideration at other places.

Usually the school who made the offer will give you something like 10-14 days to make your decision. You can ask them for more time to make the decision (up to 3 weeks isn't all that unusual), but be prepared that they might not give you that time and might try to force you to make a quick decision. Or they might sweeten their offer in hopes of getting you to accept. The schools that are still interviewing you, conversely, may try to speed up their process if they are very interested in you, or they might decide they can't get you and they'll just tell you congratulations and wish and you well as they move on to other candidates. But in either case there's really no way to make your situation better by being quiet about the offer in hand.

it depends

@decisions: it will also really depend on the school. Once I got an offer that I had to decide on in the next day, but that's considered very bad manners (it was a tiny school, and they didn't really know what they were doing at all). I told the other application in progress (after the 1st-round of interviews) that I was not continuing with that application.

Curious

I know this must vary, but what is (roughly) a normal amount of time for an institution to give a candidate to make a decision about an offer?

Conrad

@decisions: I want to echo what's been said already. I've been in your position twice. Both times, the Early Offer University gave me just over two weeks to decide. In one case, I contacted the other schools I had upcoming interviews with. One moved up my interview and I ended up being offered (and taking) that job instead of the early offer. The best strategy is what others are recommending: let the other birds in the bush know that you have a bird in the hand. It's at least a signal of your value.

As many have noted in other venues, one unfortunate effect of the move to online interviews is that the Eastern APA no longer anchors interviewing timelines. Some schools can interview earlier, without having to wait for the APA. Other schools can drag their heels without having to worry about missing it. Consequently, it's harder for candidates to hold two offers simultaneously because it offers are now seldom simultaneous, given unanchored interview timelines. Organized schools can make early "bully" offers to candidates, who have less negotiating leverage. It sucks, but it's the new normal.

lesser-known school?

In terms of negotiating an offer, I am curious to know when a school I am offered a position is a less prestigious kind. For example, I am offered a position from school A, a very small liberal arts college. Then, I am also invited to a second-round interview for school B, which is a small but a state university. In terms of prestige, B school is better. In this case, can I make myself competitive or speed up the B's process by informing B that I am offered a position from A?

Cognate discipline villain

@ it depends. That's called an "exploding" offer. It is relatively common in some other disciplines and is sometimes made by higher-ranked universities.

jobtalk question

I'm looking for some advice regarding a job talk I have to give in a month or so. (Fly-out; the talk is an hour long and should be geared towards faculty+grad students, some of whom are experts in the area.) I have basically 2 options: a) present a forthcoming paper; b) present something from a new project.
I know that (a) is sometimes frowned upon, but it would be easier; I started my new project not too long ago, and while I can probably get together an hour-long talk from it, it will not be polished. On the other hand, since I'm invested more in the new project than in the old one, it may be more engaging.

Anyway -- what do people think about this? (Also, I'm applying from Europe, and most of my peers here are very unfamiliar with the US system, so I can't really crowdsource locally.) Any advice, from either side of the hiring table, would be very much appreciated!

Anon1

@jobtalk question: When hiring a colleague, I am more interested in what they are going to produce than what they have produced. So, knowing that they have something interesting that they are working on would play better with me than knowing that they have something coming out that won't count for their work at my university.

SLAC Associate

@lesser-known school: There are no guarantees but your best strategy is to inform B that you have been offered a job. A job offer is a job offer. You'll have negotiating leverage over B just in case (i) B is already seriously interested in you and (ii) B thinks that you're seriously considering the offer on the table. As long as both those conditions hold, B will probably respond in much the same way if your offer is from NYU or if it's from North Lutheran College of West Carolina or whatever.

Also, you don't need to say where the offer is from, though they might ask. But even if you say that it's from school A, for all school B knows you might be very interested in A's offer. Maybe you have reasons to want to live in A's part of the world, or maybe you like the idea of teaching at an A-like institution, or maybe your partner's great-grandfather was one of the founders of A and they have multiple family members who work at the college, etc. The specific reason doesn't matter, all that matters in negotiating with B is that B thinks you might be interested in A's offer.

jobtalk question

@Anon1, thank you.
I guess the question, basically, is whether a committee would be more interested in (1) knowing what a candidate's mostly finished research looks like; (2) knowing what the candidate is working on right now. I could imagine either, but really don't know which is the case. (But for (1), they may just want to consult the published papers.)

Butler update

https://www.wishtv.com/news/butler-university-professor-fired-after-being-charged-for-child-porn/

This seems to be the reason the chair of the butler search "stepped down" - he was charged with felonies and fired. It doesn't seem to have slowed down the search at all though

lesser-known school?

@SLAC Associate, thank you! It really helps!

moving

Do institutions offer to cover moving expenses? Cross country moves can be quite expensive, and difficult to finance for an early career academic. What is the norm here, at least for new TT hires?

Moved West to East

@moving: I think it is pretty variable, both in terms of whether assistance is offered and in terms of how much. I expect that variable probably correlates strongly with other forms of material support. I think many people get some assistance but not enough for full coverage. I got my expenses covered, but I would not have been able to afford a full moving company situation.

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