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09/08/2021

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Just wondering…

Pitt just canceled their search, claiming “ Our open rank search in Ethics and Practical Philosophy broadly construed has regrettably been canceled this year due to logistical obstacles that have rendered a timely completion of that search infeasible. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes, and remain grateful for your expression of interest in the position.”

Is there a reading of this that isn’t “we couldn’t be bothered to do the work required to hire someone”?

It's the pitts

@Just wondering..., yes: at least two.

There's also the "we're too internally dysfunctional to hire in a normal timeframe" reading and the "our administration is trying to sabotage us" reading.

anon

Just be gonna be blunt with this question: if one looks at the composition of a department who has a TT-opening and the department currently consists of 3 white men, as a white man, need I even bother to apply?

postdoc with hiring committee experience

@anon Probably depends on the job.

Philosophy is still mostly white and male, which can make it logistically hard to hire someone who isn't white or male. (A lot of departments trying to hire in philosophy of race this year are finding that out.) If you think you're a good candidate for the job and it isn't that much more work to apply, seems like it's worth you time about as much as any other job.

anon m&e

How likely is it that people get feedback on their interviews from the search committee? I've asked a number of people the past two years for feedback on Zoom interviews and have yet to hear from anyone.

Oh well

@anon, I think you're wildly overestimating people's motivation to diversify their departments. As someone in a department with an awful gender ratio, it has been very interesting to observe what kind of mental gymnastics colleagues engage in to justify leaving things as they are.

I love the market

There’s something especially poignant about that period of time between the zoom/fly out and getting the pfo that is really sweetened if you get the update that they’ve already hired on here / social media.

Mildly annoyed

How common is it to not receive a PFO when interviews have been scheduled with other applicants? It seems unfair to applicants not to let them know they haven’t been successful in the application.

SLAC TT

@Mildly annoyed, search committees at some universities are not allowed by HR to send a PFO until a hire is made. Also, if the search committee isn’t happy with any of their top applicants after interviews or on campus visits (which sometimes happens), they may choose to go back to the applicant pool later to see if there are any more people they want to interview.

Too Emotionally Invested

Is there any point at which searches, especially those that haven't given out first round interview requests, go on a pause for the holidays, or am I still going to "need" to keep checking every day for the next two weeks?

Post-Hope, Pre-Doc

@Too Emotionally Invested - I find the thread from last year helpful for these issues and for generally trying to predict when clusters of movement will happen. https://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2020/09/job-market-reporting-thread-2020-21-season/comments/page/2/#comments

Looking back at last year, 3 schools seem to have made moves between the 20th and 23rd. Then there were no posts between the 23rd and 27th, and then 4 schools made moves from the 27th through the 31st. Nothing on New Year's and then back to action on the 2nd.

So, in short, some light activity sprinkled around the holidays and no movement on the 24th, 25th, 26th or 1st.

Unmotivated

Is it time for me to throw in the towel? I'm LEMM. I have no interest in, nor the capacity to, develop an AOS / AOC in race, gender, or social justice related philosophy. I'm not from a top 5 program. I'm a cis white man. I'm not religious. Also, I don't want to live in the developing world. With these constraints, is it a pipe dream at this point? My sense is that you need to check one of these 5 boxes to have a chance in this market: worship Jesus, be fairly woke, be diverse, come from a top 5, or be willing to move to places considerably poorer than the US. Am I wrong?

postdoc10

Unmotivated: I feel like it depends on your willingness to take risks and to take on more years of suffering on the market. I’ve been on the market for 6 years, 4 of them post PhD. I’m like you except I do come from a top 5 program. I’ve seen plenty of people like you and me get jobs (including not from top 5 programs), often in ways that leave me scratching my head about why they were selected over me. I think things get very random when you have this many people, most of whom have great work and excellent credentials. So, it’s not like you can’t find a job. It’s just that the numbers are against you. It’s a lottery for everyone, but for LEMM folks especially.

I am out after this year. I think I would have chosen differently and quit sooner if I had known I would try for 6 years and still fail. So, if you are like me, you might be happier quitting sooner. But I think that depends on how much you hate the uncertainty and rejection of the market.

I don’t think it has anything to do with “being woke”, by the way. I’m a lefty politically, hasn’t helped me a bit.

Timmy J

The strictly negative interpretation of your claim is correct: if you do not check one of those boxes, you have no reasonable chance at a job. The following stronger claim is also correct: whether you check those boxes or not, you have no reasonable shot at a job. Nobody has a shot. Stop trying to blame your own personal lack of a shot on not having those features. Most of the woke Jesus worshipping women who work on race that I know are also not getting jobs. It’s hard. Just super duper hard.

East Coaster

Unmotivated,

I don't check any of your five boxes. (I'm irreligious, I consider myself relatively moderate, at least for academia, I'm not anyone's diversity hire, I came from a department I loved but which is not top 5, and while I might be willing to move to places considerably poorer than the US, I haven't yet had the chance to really confront that possibility.) And yet I've had some moderate success on the job market.

What's the lesson from that? First, that there is some hope. I am saying there is a chance.

Second, as Timmy J writes, it's hard, just super duper hard. Lots of great people are not getting jobs. We should all recognize the huge dose of luck involved. I doubt there are many false positives (i.e., people getting jobs who should not be teaching or researching philosophy). But I am sure you could stock several new departments with sterling false negatives. There are so many great people striking out!

Third, everyone on the job market or getting near it should spend a lot of time introspecting to figure out what makes them special. For nearly all of us, it won't be the particulars of our research. For nearly all of us, we won't be hired into a department with more than at most a colleague who does work similar to us. So, for nearly all of us, being broadly competent at research and being able to clear a tenure hurdle is the main research check. So then: what is the particular way you would make a department's life richer? If you aren't going to check one of those boxes you listed, what are you going to check?

I think about our co-host here, Marcus. Let us suppose for a moment that I wasn't particularly interested in or impressed by his work. (It looks like it might be time for a second paperback run of Rightness as Fairness!) Still, I would _love_ to have him as a colleague. Look at this site, at the conference he runs, at what he does with his students, https://www.marcusarvan.net/students etc., etc. It is clear how much energy, creativity, and enthusiasm Marcus brings! I don't mean that we all need to be (or could be!) Marcus Arvans. But I think it is probably good for all of us to think about what would be particularly tempting to a hiring committee about us.

(Of course, that won't solve the problem that there are more great people than there are jobs. But the individual job candidate cannot solve that one.)

Unmotivated

East Coaster: are you LEMM, though? My question is really only oriented toward that group, since I think the market is especially narrow in LEMM. In particular, very few SLACs seem interested in core analytic.

Postdoc10: yeah, I hear you. (I don't think being woke itself helps, but I think only fairly woke people would feel comfortable teaching in areas that seem heavily represented in desired AOCs this year.)

Postdoc10

East Coaster: I don’t think this is helpful advice. I don’t buy for a second that the people getting jobs are the ones bootstrapping their way to success by figuring out a side hustle that will make them stand out. In any case, you aren’t going to know ahead of time what “extracurriculars” are going to appeal to the departments that actually have job openings. Will they be happy with you running a website, or feel you should spend the time on research/teaching instead? Depends on the place. I don’t think it’s healthy or compassionate to tell people to just hustle harder, it’s their own fault for not running a successful website or whatever.

East Coaster

Postdoc10:

My advice was not to hustle harder, to run a successful website, etc. I am not suggesting that people change who they are. We cannot all be our kind host! The extra things are great, but I think you are right that you cannot know ahead of time what extracurriculars will help you stand out. (I am worried a bit about the scare-quotes, but ymmv.) And I think that you are right that it is not compassionate to tell people to just hustle harder. I don't think I was doing that—but if I was, consider this an amendment.

I also was pretty clear (I think) both that there are huge degrees of luck involved and that lots of great, great people don't get jobs. It thus seems strained to suggest that I'm telling people it is their own fault for not running a successful website.

Instead, my advice was to "spend a lot of time introspecting to figure out what makes [the applicant] special." There are going to be lots of applications, and lots of qualified applications. If the applicant cannot figure out what will make them stand out, neither will the committee. Having a publication or two or five will not stand out anymore. (Set aside whether this is a good thing; it surely is increasingly a thing.) So, if I'm working on my own dossier, or if I'm giving a friend feedback on their dossier, I'm going to try to figure out: what in particular would be memorable and tempting about this dossier? If I'm not Marcus as a colleague, who am I? I need to figure that out to be able to pass the word along.

And, to go back to unmotivated, I agree that there are fewer LEMM jobs than, say, history jobs. And so, yes, I think you are right that the odds are very, very harsh. Still, there are at least two LEMM TT jobs which are still open. And I suppose my point was that the factors you listed are ways of standing out. I don't think they are the only ways of standing out. But in any case, if you want motivation, I think it will come from thinking about why _you_ would be a particularly valuable member of a department (and I am _not_ saying start a website, I am saying introspect!) and then focusing your attention on that. (Including being proud of yourself for being the sort of person who would be a valuable member of a department!)

East Coaster

As a coda, to Unmotivated:

If you are saying that you are only interested in a TT job in LEMM at a wealthy SLAC, that is a very narrow target!

Unmotivated

By SLAC I meant to include both wealthy SLACs and generic LACs. Should have been more precise.

I do see phil mind pop up at LACs. I think I've only seen 1 or 2 LAC language jobs, same for analytic metaphysics.* I haven't kept close count.

(*Thomist metaphysicians may have more options, looking at various Catholic ads. It'd be kind of weird to call Thomists "core" LEMM types, though.)

FWIW I never thought I'd have a chance at R1 places or wealthy SLACs, even before the diversity push. But I thought I'd have a chance at a LAC, and the LACs just don't seem to be into core anymore, excepting mind. Certainly not in significant numbers. Even when they have an open or core AOS, often it comes with diversity considerations vis a vis the AOC. (I mean wanting someone who can teach race, gender, or non-western: diversify the curriculum.) Plus sometimes when they advertise for a core AOS, the things they will count as falling within that AOS are so numerous that it makes me really doubt they want to hire someone doing core at all!

Unmotivated

To tie it all together: my thought is that once you exclude the institutions that have strong preferences for AOCs of the sort I mentioned, the remaining job pools are so small that people who fit either the religious or diversity (in themselves, I mean) criteria are in sufficient supply to fill them. Maybe it's possible to stand out in that background -- "I know I don't love Jesus, but I do this"; "I know the other person will diversify your faculty pool, but I do that" -- but it sure seems like an uphill battle.

lewis_david

I just got a PFO from Brandeis. There were nearly 600 applications for one position. Like most of the applicants, I put a lot of time into that application. But it is unclear why we are wasting all of this time and work when there is such a small chance of the committee even glancing at the application. I'm not at all confident that a committee can review that many applications in such a short period of time. So, here is my question: why don't committees just ask for the piece of an application that they're using to make major cuts (e.g., a CV) and then ask for more materials from a subset of those applicants? Or why don't they do a narrower search?

curious

Are search committees this year at all taking into account the mental health impact of the pandemic on the applicant pool?

As a job candidate who has gotten flyouts in previous years, I know that my productivity has been seriously impacted by just trying to cope for the past couple of years. This shows on my CV and will, I assume, greatly reduce my viability this year. Based on what I'm hearing in other posts about the kinds of publication records search committees are looking at this year, it definitely seems this isn't true for everyone. And maybe departments only want to hire people who can place an article in a top 5 journal while under duress. I know, however, that I'm not the only person for whom this is true, and it just seems like yet another hurdle on an already almost impossible to navigate path.

Maybe it's silly to even ask this question, since I'm pretty sure the answer is no--but, I wanted to throw it out there.

Early career

I am wondering if we can have a discussion where search committees share the AOS they seek and the number of applications they received in this job cycle. I think that a post like that will be especially valuable for early careers. We know that for most open searches, a typical number is around 600, but what about areas like M&E, history, ethics, non-western, gender, race, etc,.?

Marcus Arvan

Early career: That's a super idea - I'll run an open thread on it first thing tomorrow!

Just a thought

Since no one else commented on this, I guess I will…

@unmotivated - In light of your last comment (and initial one), it’s worth reminding you that no job ad is advertising for “divers[e] (in themselves)” candidates (nor would hiring someone on that basis be legal or good for this discipline).

We don’t really have data to track the hiring behavior of philosophy departments on this measure; so, we don’t know whether hiring based on the candidate’s own diversity is a trend (much less a criterion). But, the psychological literature on implicit bias suggests diverse candidates (who can be identified by their name alone despite white-washing their CV in other ways) *still* are at a disadvantage for getting interviewed or hired *because of* their diversity in general. So, the suggestion that diverse people are getting jobs over other qualified candidates on *that* basis as a criterion of any kind is (likely) inaccurate and (certainly) unhelpful.

Even implicitly framing one’s lack of success in a terrible job market in this way is unjustified and bad for the discipline. Instead, it’s much better to focus on what one can do to succeed, and @East Coaster had excellent suggestions for that. Like any other job market, what you uniquely bring to the table is what’s worth selling and buying.

Post-Hope, Pre-Grad

Does anybody have a handle on how long, on average, it takes to hear back after a round 1 interview? And how long does it usually take before round 2 is held?

anonymous faculty

@Post-Hope: I think there's so much variation that one shouldn't try to make predictions. I think reasonable depts will tell you at the end of a first round interview (or in a follow up email) when you should expect to hear from them. But sometimes that isn't possible if timing is weird. (Most departments, for example, need to get official approval from their administration before scheduling fly outs, and sometimes it is hard to predict how long that will take, especially if it is over holidays or the administration is stressed for other reasons.) In my department, once a committee could not decide what to do after first round interviews and that prolonged the process (they ended up consulting with the rest of the department, which is normally something committees don't do in my department until the fly out stage). That delayed things significantly. A decent search chair will keep you updated, though, I think, if it takes longer than two weeks.

Diversity hiring

@Just a thought: At my R1, the demographic features of candidates (their race and gender) are very much used as a criterion in hiring, at every stage of the process. This is true even though it is known to violate our university's nondiscrimination policies and promises to applicants and is illegal. Everyone I have talked to who has served on a hiring committee elsewhere has said the same thing. (Though you may of course be right that it is not useful to focus on this.)

anon postdoc

I don't know if this is a productive conversation to have, but I'm wondering how many interviews other candidates who are active on this site are getting. Is this year just as bad as last year, or am I just not as competitive as other candidates?

My AOS is in ethics and social epistemology, with AOCs in applied ethics, metaethics, and feminist philosophy. This is my second year on the market (last year I was ABD), and so far both times I have only had one first-round interview, with no campus visits.

Shay Logan

@anon postdoc: I’ve got a TT job that I really like. I was on the market for five years. I never got more than one first-round interview for a TT job in a season and in two of those years I had zero interviews for TT jobs. So it can pan out from the sort of data you’re working with.

Independent of that, your performance is *no* indication whatsoever that you’re not a good philosopher or that you don’t deserve a job. The market is just bad.

Post-Hope, Pre-Grad

@anon postdoc I'm an ABD in my first year on the market with AOSs in social/political and immigration and AOCs in climate, Econ justice, and law. I've gotten 1 interview request (which hasn't yet been held).

pre-post-hope grad

I feel like this might be a healthy discussion to have (in that it's good to hear that other people are having similar experiences), so I'll continue: I'm also ABD, first year on the market, with an AOS in epistemology. I've gotten 3 interview requests, although one is for a (non-fancy) postdoc. It's clear that the first interview has not led to a campus visit, the other two interviews are still to happen. I've written about 70 applications so far.

Scisci

I’m phil sci. This is the third time I’m on the market. Last two years I was ABD. First year I got one interview which led to an on-campus but no job. Second year I got nothing. Third year (this year) I got 3 zoom interviews that haven’t happened yet.

sisyphus

I'm phil bio/phil sci. Second year on the market, first time not ABD. First year: one interview which landed me a postdoc, but nothing else (not complaining!) This year: two interviews - one postdoc, one TT. Haven't done either interview yet. Still hoping to hear back from a couple places.

meh

First year on the market, ABD. AOS mind/metaphysics/[psychology/science]. No interviews so far, but I haven't applied broadly. I applied to 20 TT jobs and 3 postdocs (2 more TT apps, plus a postdoc and VAP app in the pipeline, plus whatever I like that posts in the New Year). 0/13 in TT interviews (though I did get my letters pulled from a school that said it meant I advanced a round) and 0/1 in postdocs awarded.

aesthetician with a temporary job

Fourth year on the market. My AOS is aesthetics and I have some niche teaching experience. My publication record is just about okay.

First year, ABD. I don't remember how many first round interviews. 3? No fly-outs or offers.
Second year, ABD. Don't remember how many interviews. 1 fly out (no offer); 2 offers for temporary positions.
Third year, PhD in hand. Maybe 4 first-round interviews. No fly-outs. Got 2 last minute offers: one VAP and one longer-term teaching position. (I took the stable one.)
Skipped the next two cycles. I have applied to many fewer jobs this year than in previous years, mostly because I only decided to apply at all mid-October. I am only applying to TT positions. I have one first-round interview.

for your job talk, you should present blah blah blah.

So this is one of those "good problems to have" problems, but I am trying to figure out what do give as a job talk and my head is absolutely spinning from all the conflicting advice out there. A case in point: you need to send in your best work as a writing sample. You also need to give a job talk on your best work. Your job talk cannot be the same as your writing sample. Or there's the advice about presenting new work: new work is good, you want to show you've got stuff in the pipeline; no wait, you should present your most polished piece of work that you've presented many times in the past (but not your writing sample!). I feel like I've seen good arguments made for each of these pieces of advice on this blog, but I don't really have a good way of evaluating which ones to care about. I guess it might be good to get a poll ranking different principles in terms of how many people agree with them, but even that advice could easily be trumped by some kind of local consideration about the department itself. Maybe it's just a reflection of the broader state of job market advice: it's all over the place and not really that helpful.

jobtalkadvice

re job talk, I have consistently heard that you should present your best, most polished work. In addition to not being your writing sample, it also shouldn't already be published -- so in that sense, you should still show that you have work in progress. You can show you have work in the pipeline by presenting unpublished but still polished stuff. and you can say at the beginning and/or end how your project relates to other projects.

(Also, I think the best way to think about and justify the "don't present things that are published norm" is this: it is ceteris paribus bad form to present something that your audience cannot influence. Of course, there are exceptions to this, like if you submit a paper to a CFP and the paper gets accepted at a journal in the interim. The job talk analogue of this would probably be getting a paper accepted just shortly before your talk. It's also fine, I think, to present work that is 'forthcoming' in the sense that it is promised to a journal/volume, as long as you can still change it, etc.)

Sammy

I asked this in the reporting thread but perhaps should have put it here. I sometimes see jobs that ask for both a letter of motivation and a cover letter. (The latest example: This Utrecht job ad (https://philjobs.org/job/show/19201). Does anyone know the difference? Thanks guys

Bubbles

I've seen a few posts on this blog and on the Daily Nous reporting lower-than-normal (i.e. not quite as insane) application numbers this year. I have an explanation that I haven't seen come up in the discussions, which have mostly focused on applicants being more selective for various reasons. It's totally based on anecdotal evidence, but whatever:
Last year, the market was so bad that part of the applicant backlog got cleared out as people left the market entirely. Lots of applicants without fallback positions for 2021-2022 came up empty in 2020-21 and had to leave academia. Still others who have hung around as postdocs and vaps and adjuncts just decided their chances weren't going to improve anytime soon and left of their own accord. Maybe some ABDs also saw the writing on the wall and decided not to bother with the market at all. So the swollen, overgrown bubble that was the philosophy job market since the recession finally burst - or at least deflated somewhat.
Maybe all this was made easier by accumulated savings or extra government assistance due to covid, and maybe people also had a chance to rethink their lifestyles, and all the other general explanations we've seen for the "great resignation. But I can think of several real cases for each of the quitting academic scenarios I've described, from people I know personally. This is what's happening to my friends, and what pretty easily could have happened to me last year if I hadn't had an extra year in my current position.
I'm curious if this rings true with other people's anecdotal experiences.

EmbracingTheVoid

First year on the market. ABD. Phil Science/Phil Bio (plus some niche stuff like philosophy of history).

So far... lemme count: ah yes, zero of all the things one wants to have. Lots of apps still out, and will continue to apply to anything I can plausibly qualify for. But confidence is certainly waning.

postdoc less hopeful

Hey Bubbles. I think that's definitely a factor. There were five students in my graduating class. One never went on the market and got a job in the tech industry. Three of us are on short-term academic contracts. The last I have no idea what they are doing. Last year one person got a TT job, two are on international postdocs, and one left for high school teaching.

Ironically, the only reason I am still in academia is that I failed to find a job outside academia. 50 applications and only one first-round interview. The postdoc I'm on was advertised very last minute. With my academic options drying up this cycle I am applying outside again, and I will only renew my postdoc if I cannot find any other work (which is a real possibility).

woop, woop

@bubbles

I was forced out of the job market after failing to get academic employment for AY 21-22.

Last cycle I had five interviews (one TT, two postdocs and two VAPs/lecturer/adjunct) and none of them resulted in an offer. Nothing much changed on my CV from the last job cycle (a bit more teaching experience but all of my papers out at journals were still under review) and I figured departments would have their pick of people who managed to get a job for AY 21-22, so no reason to take a risk on someone like me who had to work outside philosophy for a year. Overall, after being on the market for 6 years, it became clear that I was not going to get a permanent job (fwiw, I got a phd at a top 10 leiter place, decent pubs but nothing tippy top), so now I've moved on to other things. I'm very unhappy about that outcome but that's the way it goes.

Bubbles

woop, sorry to hear that. Last year was absolutely brutal, and it pushed out a lot of good people. I hope you're finding some rewarding non-academic opportunities now. The good news is that all my friends who left last year seem much better off these days.

postdoc less hopeful, thanks for the data point. I hope things work out in your favor this time around.

Pandemic-impact Q

I have a question for any search committee members who may see this and are willing to offer any intel (anonymously or otherwise):

Is the current COVID-19 surge impacting (delaying or changing) your committee’s hiring timeline or the decision to have fly-outs versus online teaching demonstrations/job talks?

Also, I wonder how a committee might respond to a candidate who expresses reservations about traveling for a second-round interview under the circumstances?

P.S. I recognize how challenging this question is as things continue to evolve, and things may vary considerably based on the university’s location.

Anon1

Pandemic-Impact Q:
My department did a search at the beginning of the Covid era. Of our four finalists, two were from abroad and were unable to visit in person. We arranged for them to do their visits virtually. However, while we did not consciously hold it against them, and did everything we could to ensure that thy had the opportunities to display themselves in the best light possible, neither one got the position. One was just a dud, but the other one should have been more viable than they were. It is just impossible to make the same impression over video as in person. So, if some candidates do visit in person and you do not, I think that you will be at a significant disadvantage, even if the department is open to you doing your visit virtually.

Pandemic-impact Q

@Anon1 - Thanks for your helpful reply! I figured as much! Zoom certainly has its limits. Also, I’d find it difficult to accept an offer without visiting anyway. It’s a big decision on both ends!

Anon

Does anybody have any insight on how many candidates are usually included at each stage? For example:
- SLAC 1st round interview (small department)
- SLAC in-person interview (small department)
- R1 1st round interview (large department)
- Postdoc longlist

I know that these will vary quite a bit, but I was wondering whether there are general rules of thumb here.

Anon1

In my experience, 10-20 for first round interviews, and 2-4 (usually 3) for fly-outs, irrespective of whether R1 or SLAC.

GRIT

Just in case anyone needs to read this (myself included):

YOU’VE GOT THIS! No matter how any of this turns out, you pushed through with all that you could in an incredibly tough market (and pandemic!). And, that perseverance is always worthwhile. (You found what *next level* you looks like!)

Also, ONE DAY AT A TIME! Remember to self-care, sleep, take breaks from the Cocoon, call grandma, and just see where it all leads. Let it all go—even if just for a moment. You’ve done all that you can for now. At worst, you learned a whole lot in this pursuit—certainly a whole lot about yourself!

Wishing all my job market comrades well as we power through January!

Strike Out

Hey all,

It looks like I struck out this season for TT jobs but I'm trying to remain hopeful for a VAP/Post-Doc/Lecturer Position. Does anybody know when these are typically posted? I'm not seeing a lot now, so I'm getting nervous, but I'd feel better if the majority of them are typically posted later on in the Spring Semester.

Thanks!

postdoc hopeless

@ Strike Out, I am in the same position. This is only my second time on the market, so I don't have much depth of experience, but from my recollection short-term positions just sort of trickle out over the course of the spring and into the summer. I was still applying to newly posted positions in May and June. This could be an idiosyncrasy of last year's pandemic market, though.

Strike Out

Thanks, postdoc! That's good to hear. (I'll pretend I didn't see the last sentence.)

phew

@ GRIT, I desperately needed to hear that! Thank you for shouting out! Best wishes to you!

non-TT market

@ GRIT, yes, the inspiration is much appreciated.

@Strike Out, I would keep an eye on PhilJobs and HigherEdJobs between now and May, or even June. Visiting, non-TT jobs, and postdocs tend to start getting posted around the start of the Spring semester, but continue throughout. Based on this year's TT market, I'm guessing that there will be plenty, and it's still a bit early.

Anecdotally and for what it's worth, I've now taken three non-TT jobs, all pretty decent, and all three offers came (roughly) from job ads posted in April, interviews in May, and offers in June.

Experienced NTT

Yes, it is very common for "good" (= salaried, 3/3 or less, large department) NTT jobs to be posted in March, April, and May. Such searches move quickly, and usually do not require on-campus visits, in my experience.

Failed searches

Apparently MIT isn't hiring anyone for their TT job, which got me wondering how often this happens, and what the reasons for this (not just in the MIT case, but in general) may be? Apparently they invited someone for a flyout who declined, but surely there were plenty of other great candidates they could've invited for an interview? I didn't apply to that job and it isn't my AOS, so this isn't self-serving. It just got me wondering why this sometimes happens. I know it's sometimes the fault of budgetary issues or administrative hang-ups, but at a school like MIT I doubt it's due to lack of funds...

Confused

@Failed searches, which MIT TT job are you talking about? The epistemology one?

one explanation

hi failed searches: I'm not affiliated with MIT, but here's my guess about what is going on there: they probably have special money with which they can hire in phil tech (by the way, they had multiple TT jobs, and I don't think that the other search has failed). I suspect that basically it's a "free" line for the department because the university is very invested in ethics of tech/phil tech, or, at the least, the university is willing to just keep giving them the search year after year and encouraging but not requiring them to fill it. But they are not super excited about a lot of the people working on phil tech, so they are being extremely selective/going after particular people, knowing that they will just keep being able to do the search year after year if they want, and waiting for someone who meets their standards. (I'm not defending their standards, and who knows if this story is even remotely true, but this story would correspond to some things I know about some other departments and their administrations.)

Another explanation

My university only allows us to fly 2 candidates out to campus. If after the fly-outs the hiring committee cannot agree to extend an offer to either of those candidates, then the search is over. We cannot invite additional candidates to campus or extend an offer to anyone else.

second one explanation

MIT can probably do 10 or more fly-outs if they wanted. My guess is they just didn't like who they interviewed and don't think going back to the applicant pool is going to yield different results.

Failed searches OP

Thanks, everyone, for the insights! It's helpful to hear how things sometimes work out behind the scenes. And, @one explanation, I hadn't thought about the tech angle and the fact that there can sometimes be specific/extra money for those types of things. I think that's a fair theory!
I do want to just say into the void, however, that it really does kinda suck when positions go unfilled when there are hundreds of talented people getting shut out year after year and being forced to leave the profession. I get that it's MIT, but it still sucks that there's one less job this year that one of many talented people could've had. Obviously someone in contention for MIT will likely get a job somewhere else, but that of course means someone else won't get the job they end up with, and so on and so forth.

lol

Has anyone gotten a job after thinking they bombed a zoom interview?

passerby

@ lol, I remember reading a post that somewhat touched on your question. https://philosopherscocoon.typepad.com/blog/2021/12/predicting-fly-outs-on-the-basis-of-interviews.html#comments

bombshell

@lol Yes, I got a three-year position after "bombing" the zoom interview. I was shocked when I got the offer a week after the interview and even more shocked I was the first choice.

But I honestly doubt that it's the candidate that bombs the interview. I suspect that more often than not it's the committee that bombs the interview. I've had 5+ zoom/skype interviews for academic positions. But I've also worked in non-academic contexts, and it seems to me the interview practices of professional philosophy are *terrible* on average, e.g., the questions are almost always exceedingly vague. In contrast, at an interview for a business analyst position you might get asked very specific, but helpful for everyone, questions like "Suppose a developer needs information XYZ. How would you query the database?" But in a philosophy zoom interview it's "How would you teach X?" Seriously?! A better question would be "We read XYZ in your teaching dossier (which you clearly spent 40+ hours on, nicely done), could you please tell us a bit more about this particular student outcome?" or "We see you have student outcomes A and B, can you tell us a bit more about what you do when these outcomes can't both be met to the same extent?"

It's so frustrating. In a philosophy zoom interview, it often feels like nobody has read the documents I spent a ridiculous amount of time preparing. And I easily put 20+ hours of prep time into each interview but in many cases *I* end up feeling completely uninspired by the interviewers. For example, after my first few interviews, I worried that I was talking too much. So, I started consciously putting in more pauses and places for interviewers to ask followup questions. But when I did that at my last interview, they just moved on to the next question! All this is to say, I suspect many candidates do a perfectly good job on the interview. I think committees should respect our time and do a bit more work in preparing themselves. They might try interviewing fewer first round candidates. Better yet, maybe we could just do away with first round interviews altogether.

shrapnel

My experience matches with what ‘bombshell’ wrote in that every time I felt like I bombed an interview, I realized after further reflection that it was actually the committee that bombed it. If you’ve done everything you can reasonably do to prepare for the interview (e.g. review your materials, practice responses to standard questions, run through practice interviews with peers and mentors) and it still goes badly (barring standard things like messing up or forgetting things out of nerves) 9 times out of 10 it’s because the committee didn’t set you up for success.

Like ‘bombshell’, I have also been interviewed for jobs outside of academia. Interviewing job candidates is a skill and an art in being able to ask questions that are both informative for the hiring committee beyond what’s already in the candidate’s materials, while at the same time giving the candidate an opportunity to show themselves in a realistic but positive light. Many interviewers lack this skill and end up blaming the candidates for poor performance.

For what it’s worth, from the job candidate side of things, it helps tremendously when interview committees send the questions in advance, particularly if they want to ask specific questions about aspects of their department that are not in the job ad and that an outside candidate cannot reasonably find out about.

For example, I’ve had committees ask me how I would teach specific courses in their department that are outside of my AOS/AOC, or how I would teach a philosophy course in a highly idiosyncratic gen ed program at their university. Expecting a candidate to be able to give good answers to questions about courses they only heard of a minute ago with 15 seconds of time to think about it can’t possibly be informative for the committee. This doesn’t reflect any realistic scenario one would face on the job. Further, it sets the candidate up to fail.

I’ve also had committees treat the ‘research’ portion of first round interviews as an opportunity to engage in hostile, aggressive colloquium Q&A style grilling. This reflects especially poorly on the department as it’s a sign of a negative, unproductive, and unfriendly overall climate.

I’ve personally always left these interviews with the sense that I wasn’t given a fair chance and that the committee wasn’t serious about my candidacy to begin with. Given that the market is stacked against applicants, hiring departments sometimes forget that they are still interviewing members of the profession, and that their own lack of positive, professional conduct during these interviews can also end up burning bridges with colleagues who will end up at other schools.

I know that the feeling of having bombed an interview is a bad one, but it’s usually not your fault. You can’t predict how the committee will react or figure out what they were looking for. If it goes sour, just make a mental note of it and forget it happened. You did the best you could with what you had, don’t be so hard on yourself!

Conrad

"For example, after my first few interviews, I worried that I was talking too much. So, I started consciously putting in more pauses and places for interviewers to ask followup questions. But when I did that at my last interview, they just moved on to the next question!"

I've had exactly the same experience. +1 to all you say.

not good at improvising

On a related note, I was told that (at least in my department) it is considered best practice to ask all applicants the same questions. I don't have strong views on whether this is what should be done or not. But if search committees do think this way, they'll stick to a catalog of generic questions and won't ask follow-ups. I have been in at least one interview that was like that, and it ultimately meant that I had to get all the info I wanted to get across into my answer, because after I would be done they would move on. (On the plus side, I was pretty much able to stick to my "script".)

anon

@Confused, I am virtually certain that this is not about MIT's TT epistemology position.

Sigh

How normal is it for a school simply to move on to fly-outs without notifying/rejecting candidates they interviewed in the first-round? I assumed most places would be decent enough not to do this, but the longer I wait, the less sure I become…

Anonymous

@Sigh I don’t know how common it is but I think it’s absolutely deplorable and unprofessional behavior. We should call out departments who do this. I’ll start: Loyola University Chicago. Boston University *did* let me know that I did not advance to the flyout stage and that was very kind of them.

ghosting

@Sigh: extremely normal, unfortunately. I've been ghosted several times by schools that I interviewed at, only to find out via the reporting thread that they have moved on. So yes, it's unfortunately common (though imo disrespectful, even cruel).

Does anyone know if there is any good justification for ghosting candidates post-interview (who have often spent hours prepping and are already anxiety-ridden from waiting)? Like are there any HR-related reasons? I understand that some schools might want the option to go back to the Zoom interview list, but it seems like they should just let people know that they've made initial fly out offers but may go back to the interview list if needed.

anon

A lot of places claim that HR forbids them from sending news to shortlisted candidates until an offer is formally accepted. On the other hand, I don't know what practical consequences a search chair could face for breaking this rule, and it seems like there are easy means of evading it while communicating to candidates.

anonymous associate professor

I don't think there are HR reasons to do this for most places, but there might be occasional actual obstacles. I think it's mostly just people being crappy! Unfortunately based on recent conversations with people on the hiring side, sometimes I think it's also ignorance (!) about what candidates want (two people recently expressed surprise that anyone would want to receive a rejection). But I think most of the time it's just people failing to be minimally thoughtful. I agree that departments should be called out that do this, but I don't think many search committee chairs are reading this thread (or this blog).

postduck

I would appreciate a thread/post that provided candidates with an opportunity to discuss the "bad behavior" of hiring committees...

AnonPD

I was also ghosted after a first-round interview. W&L. I saw that they moved on on the Cocoon's reporting thread. I even reached out to the search chair and was told they were still interviewing and deliberating (yes, they technically were still deliberating, but the wording of the email made it seem like they were still conducting first-round interviews). I only recently received a form rejection letter from HR. To my knowledge, the silence and obscurity is demanded from HR. My wife works in administration at a large university, and I know from her hiring experiences that central HR lets them have very little control over the hiring process. I assume this is similar with academic hires.

feedback

In light of anonymous associate professors' post, maybe such a thread could be framed as candidates constructively reporting things that they don't like/contribute to bad mental health, etc? That might also get more uptake than people complaining, especially if people are not aware of what candidates would prefer...

My list would include:
1. Not updating shortlisted candidates who didn't make the fly out stage. (Or, more generally, not updating candidates who you told made progress but then did not advance.) It comes off as disrespectful, even cruel.
2. Not having accurate timelines. If you tell candidates you will contact them on date X, then either update them to tell them why you can't do so (e.g. delay), or be more careful about giving such estimates. Constantly waiting and checking makes it very difficult to focus, especially when you're waiting for news on a particular day.

Marcus Arvan

feedback: That's a nice suggestion, and I'll plan on running such a thread early next week.

Job applicants are people with feelings

In response to the insight by @anonymous associate professor about how some SC members might just be ignorant/oblivious: I cannot even comprehend being so detached from the plight of job seekers (in any field, not just philosophy academia) so as to not realize that people would prefer to be informed in a timely and respectful manner that they'd been rejected as opposed to... just languishing while checking one's email and gradually getting the memo over the course of many frustrating and stressful weeks?!

Curious

Do schools sometimes hire two people, even if their initial search was only listed for one? For instance, if the department's circumstances change from the time they posted the job ad to the hiring phase?

kria

I have chaired a number of search committees at a large public university where the administration strongly discourages us from communicating with candidates who are no longer being considered until the person hired has signed their paperwork. I agree with posters above that this is terrible and try my best to keep candidates abreast of the process, especially those who make the shortlist and flyouts, but I have to fight the Dean over this every time. The way I see it is that all these fabulous candidates are my colleagues, not his. And I don’t want to treat my colleagues like that.

Cognate discipline villain

What are the reasons why an American department would consciously avoid advertising a TT position on philjobs, but post on other academic websites?

Is it simply to try to decrease the number of applications received? Are there other sound reasons?

wondering

@kria, that's very interesting and good to know! Just curious: what is the alleged justification for this practice? Why would there be a problem with communicating such updates to candidates?

anonymous associate professor

@Curious, yes! It's not super common but it definitely happens. (Sometimes partner hiring causes it, sometimes other factors. Some departments are currently sometimes able to get two lines late in the process for diversity reasons, or e.g. because someone announces a retirement and the university is well-funded enough to let them replace the person before they retire, etc.)

SLAC Associate

@Curious: I won't say it never happens that a school hires two, but it's quite rare. All the instances that I'm personally aware of have involved two-body problems, where the school gave a candidate's partner some kind of visiting, non-tenure track position in order to secure their chosen candidate.

Frustrated

Last year, I applied to about 70 schools. I received about 30 PFO's, had a few interviews, and then silence from the rest. This year, I applied to significantly fewer schools, around 35, and have gotten no word from anyone. It might be because the schools haven't made final decisions, but I see other people reporting official rejections. There is something particularly frustrating about the radio silence. No one likes being rejected, but I think I prefer rejection to silence. I can imagine why rejections are not sent out–it takes time, applications are many and hiring committee members are comparatively few, no incentive to do so, etc.-but it definitely feels like an extra slap in the face. "Not only do we not want you, but we cannot be bothered to tell you."

Radio silence hurts

@kria, amen!

kria

@wondering: I think it is several factors. One is a view the administration seems to have which is that if you have officially told people they are not on the initial list, then you cannot revisit it. I think that is bonkers and stems from a misunderstanding of how hiring works. Sometimes this idea is supported by some vague reference to legal stuff, which is never spelled out.

There is another reason SCs may not communicate in a timely manner and that is that, depending on the school, people, faculty and staff, might be totally overworked and overextended and prioritizing tasks that need immanent attention (reading the files and engaging with candidates and in the case of staff, logging and organizing applications and taking care of logistics for interviews and visits). We generally get 300-400 applications for a position and the work for the search is on top of everything else. It is exciting to read about all the wonderful stuff candidates are doing. It is also a lot of work.
But I agree that keeping people abreast of the process is a vital part of the process itself and we should all aim to change how that part of hiring is done. The ghosting part of the job search makes a difficult situation much worse.

Reframing

@Frustrated — I feel you. I’ve only heard (positively or negatively) from a total of 16/80 positions I applied for this season. The only thing that makes me feel sorta okay about it is remembering that in non-academic job markets, I would *never* get rejection emails at all when I applied. So, if we ignore the fact that academic job apps take significantly more time and effort (and that’s probably a bigger issue here — How much of our dossiers are committees *really* reading? How much is just needless hoop-jumping?), then there’s nothing malicious or unique about the way applicants are being treated when academic institutions don’t send us PFOs. Perhaps that way of thinking about it ignores too much bad behavior, but it’s a reframing to try.

lol

Can we have a thread on strategies to deal with burnout during app season? I am really struggling and have a million irons in the fire (new research, revisions, trying to finish dissertation) on top of dealing with applications and interviews and it feels different than other years where I've experienced burnout.

Marcus Arvan

@lol: absolutely! I’ll run one early this week.

Lost in the Cocoon

@Marcus Arvan: Where can we find the subsequent threads proposed in this discussion (like the one you’re creating for @lol)? Are these subsequent threads filed under the categories in the right hand column? Or, are there more direct ways to find these threads like links posted in this discussion thread?

(Sorry! I’m a little new to the blog. It’s great. Thanks for all you do!)

Marcus Arvan

@Lost in the Cocoon: thanks for the kind words! I post new discussion threads on the main blog page as new posts. So just keep an eye out there.

Found in the Cocoon

@Marcus Arvan: Got’cha! Thank you!!

Cognate discipline villain

I may have found out the answer to my own question above. So, here's a new one:

What percentage of calls for applications by philosophy departments are fake (because they already know specifically who they intend to hire)?

anonymous associate professor

@Cognate discipline villain: almost none.

I hate this all.

Suppose after a first round interview, you're told you are not a finalist and will not be receiving a fly-out at this time but that your candidacy is still live, to please be in touch if anything chances on your end, and that they will be in touch if they are unsatisfied with the finalists they are flying out.

I am proceeding as if I am rejected, but wondering: 1) Do departments send this to everyone they gave a first-round interview to? And 2) do departments ever dip into their alternates or is this just a terrible way of dragging out the waiting game?

East Coaster

@Cognate: I have the same experience as AAP. I've been involved as a grad student or faculty member with double-digit hires, and I've never seen anything like that. I have seen opportunity hires done, but those are not on philpapers, etc. Everything made public was in fact open.

@I hate this all.: Those are not always sent out, and probably in fact are rarely sent out, and maybe not even to everyone. And a grad-school classmate of mine not only got the later flyout but also got the gig.

Things stink, but I don't think they stink misleadingly so all that often.

flyouts

Question for those of you with past experience: I'm in the fortunate position of having a couple of flyouts coming up soon. My campus visit schedules include meeting with the dean and/or provost. What exactly happens in these meetings, and is there anything I should do to prepare? I feel like I have a good idea about what to expect for the other aspects of the flyout, but I'm a bit at a loss here. I'd also love to know whether and how this varies by type of job, since the flyouts are at very different places (think R1 vs. Catholic SLAC).

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