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« 'Ineffective altruism' blog (by David Thorstad) | Main | Is being an international job-candidate a disadvantage? »

12/22/2022

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Andy

Keep on interviewing until you have signed a contract. Every job you have an interview for will have multiple strong candidates. Each interview is practice for the others, and the more interviews you have the lower the pressure will be for each individual interview. Hence, the better you will perform in each interview. If you somehow end up with multiple offers you have a bargaining tool. Don't feel bad about doing what you have to do in a shitty system.

jaybird

Do not turn anything down until you have accepted an offer. There is so much luck involved at this point in the process...give yourself as many chances as possible. You have worked SO hard to get here. Don't undermine yourself! If you need to back out of an interview later that is OK - the committee has a backup list.

Mike Titelbaum

I agree with everything said above. Also, while I appreciate the thoughtfulness, don't overestimate how much you'd be helping someone else if you declined an interview. Depending on how many interviews they're doing, and what the local HR regulations are like, some schools won't add another candidate to their list when someone cancels before an interview. And even if they do add another candidate, that person might have a lower-than-average chance of making the next round (or else they would've made the list in the first place!).

french toast

As a data point, I started turning down interview invitations when I got a multi-year postdoc offer. It was an attractive enough postdoc position that it was an insurance policy for when I was certain that I would rather try again than accept an offer from the interview place.

By the time I had the postdoc offer in hand, the searches had moved to the flyout phase, so it was flyout invites that I turned down. For me one of the factors in this decision was that I'd learned (from past years) that flyouts are really exhausting and a ton of work. I actually regretted accepting flyout invites for certain positions in past market cycles precisely because the experience was so physically and emotionally taxing that it wasn't worth it for a job I knew I didn't want. So if I was certain I'd have several chances to try the market again, it wasn't worth it to me to put so much effort into getting a job I wasn't excited about.

Worked out for me and I got a dream TT job later, but I agree with the other commenters that you should only decline interviews if you feel comfortable enough in your risk assessment that you'll have other chances and won't end up jobless. Mike's comment above plus the fact that more offers are bargaining chips is also a worthwhile reason to just go through with all of the invitations you get.

Bill Vanderburgh

I think it depends a bit on what "a lot" means here. If it is five, don't turn any down. If it is fifteen, yeah, maybe be selective.

The usual argument for taking interviews at places you wouldn't accept the job, is getting practice in face-to-face interviews. That doesn't apply here, since it sounds like you be getting plenty of practice.

If you already know you wouldn't accept a job at a place and the practice argument doesn't come into it, I'd say decline that interview and save your strength for the ones you would accept.

Perhaps it would be worth a phone call (not email) to the search chairs at a handful of the places you are most interested in, to the effect, "Look, I've been invited for 15 campus interviews, I just want to make sure I'm a top contender with you, since I'm very interested in working there." If there is a lack of enthusiasm or all they can say is that you are in the top three of the three they invited, then perhaps that is a reason to keep all/most of the interviews.

There is a risk, above a certain number, that you will be so tired, or so much on autopilot, that you won't end up doing well enough at any campus visit. But that "certain number" might be pretty high. You are going to have to judge that for yourself.

advice

I think it depends on the details. If you're in grad school, do you have another year (or more) of funding available if you don't get a job?

If so, you may be able to be a bit more selective. E.g. last year I declined (and was advised to decline) an interview at a school that was in the middle of nowhere and had a v high teaching load and absolutely no name recognition. I probably wouldn't have declined it if I didn't already have interviews/fly outs lined up (I had 19 first-round interview requests, so it was genuinely overwhelming to do all of them.) I later declined interviews from a few more places once I had offers (esp when those places wouldn't give me any bargaining power and/or their timeline wouldn't work out with the offer expiration date).

I do agree though (1) interviewing can be good practice, (2) it's hard to be too risk-averse on the job market, and (3) the benefits that can accrue to other candidates are unclear.

So if I were you, I'd probably balance (1-3) against the (4) your time/energy, (5) how confident you are that another job will pan out, and (6) the costs of a job not panning out (e.g. do you have another year of funding/could you renew your position?).

Hope that helps!

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