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anonymous associate professor

Slightly more pessimistically: if your original reader is from a non-top 20 PhD program (according to the PG), I actually suspect that there is a good chance they are being interviewed with little chance of a hire. I speak from long-term employment in a lower-ranked PhD program here: over the years, some of our students have developed more research-school-friendly profiles, and when they do they often land interviews with PhD-granting/highly ranked programs, but have almost never advanced to the second round/on campus interviews. Based on what I know about these students, and the consistency with which this has been the case, and looking at the consistency with which those schools have exclusively hired people from top-ranked PhD programs, it's hard not to suspect strong bias against low-ranked PhDs here. Jared Warren has a PhD from NYU.


I am also very curious about the answer. In my own case, I have got quite a number of TT interviews (some R1s and one SLAC, two offers luckily) but no interviews or responses from other positions. It has puzzled me given my impression that non-TT jobs are less competitive. (But my former advisor thought that my data is too scarce to speculate.)


Additional data point: I am in something of a similar position and

* I have taught several intro- and mid-level gen-ed friendly courses in a range of areas (and have good evaluations for them).
* My PhD is from a pretty Leiterrific place.
* My interviews haven't seemed to me to have gone badly, and the mock interview with my department didn't concern anyone.

Given how unclear it is why things haven't panned out so far, it doesn't seem worth it to me to make big changes to my approach or spend a lot of time practicing interviews or whatever.

At this point, it seems a better way out of the trap is to transition to tech or something else with a less terrible job market.


I think that if someone is consistently getting interviews, then they aren't trapped in the middle.

As for how to get out of the trap if you're in it, or how to shift from one segment of the market to the other, I don't have much to offer by way of suggestions, especially in terms of quick fixes. If you're feeling pigeonholed in the R1 market, then put a lot of work into the teaching aspects of your dossier--write up a couple of dozen syllabi for very different courses, experiment with your pedagogy, spend a lot of time on your teaching statement, etc.; if you're feeling pigeonholed into the teaching market, make a huge research push and start outpublishing R1 expectations.


Just for context:

Suppose you have a 1/5 chance of getting a job conditional on getting a final-round interview, and you get four final-round interviews a year over three years.

Then the chance that you will not get a job over that period is (4/5)^12 = ~7%.

postdoc from a non-ranked department

My intuitions align with anonymous associate professor. I've been on the market for two years now, only 1-2 interviews for TT positions or postdocs each year, never moving past the first round of TT searches. I had a nice talk with a search committee member from a search I did not progress in. I was told that many search committee members will unfortunately look at where my PhD is from and throw my dossier in the bin. This is despite the fact that this committee member admitted that my research profile makes me competitive for R1-type places.

Marcus Arvan

@anonymous associate professor & postdoc from an unranked department. Indeed, good point. We’ve discussed this here on a few occasions:



If this is the OP’s situation, here is a discussion of what I think they might try:



I think there's a third option for candidates like this. If you've got a research-oriented profile but aren't quite getting into R1 jobs in the US (which seems to be the situation of the OP and some commenters, if my guess that they're applying in the US is correct), instead of trying to reorient for teaching jobs in the US, you might try applying to R1 jobs outside the US.

Obviously this won't suit everyone for various reasons, but there are lots of universities outside the US that conceive of themselves as research-oriented (and offer TT jobs with the equivalent of 2-2 loads or similar), but who aren't quite as snobbish about where you got your PhD and/or simply don't get quite as competitive an applicant pool.

For me, this meant applying in Australasia in particular, and I had much more success there than in the US.

first time committee member

I was under the impression that some people could be "too strong for other places to hire me because they don't think I would come or stay." But my recent experience working at a SLAC and an R2 school changed my mind. I know that people do it differently, so I am just talking about my experience. From my experience, the concern about someone's being too strong for a place is an illusion. Our HR is very clear that we should not take this (whether someone will stay for long) into consideration. And I do believe that we did not take it into consideration when we tried to hire someone.

So, at least for us, an excellent research profile per se never hurts someone. However, sometimes people with excellent research profiles did not fit because of their research-oriented mindset (e.g. not caring about teaching or not sensitive to students' needs etc.).

SLAC chair

The market is so darned impossible, the narrative of "SLACs won't hire me because I'm too good" is in all but very rare circumstances, incorrect. SLACs are hiring incredibly impressive candidates with remarkable CVs.

search committee member at R1

Things you can't control: who you are up against, biases and prejudices of the search committee.

Things you can control: how you come across in your interview (collegial, articulate, well-prepared, interested in the research of others, interested in the area), whether you thank the interview committee after your visit, how good your job talk is (do you know it backwards and forwards? have you anticipated likely objections and thought of plausible ways of responding that nevertheless allow the questioner to feel like they have made a substantive and interesting objection?), whether you have researched the university and the department.

If you've made it to the interview stage then every element I just listed in the second category is likely relevant to you moving up or down the ranks.

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