Friday, January 14, 2011

Academic Job Interviews

One thing that really annoys me about getting sick at this particular moment in time is that I will be missing an especially important round of interviews for an academic position at my department. This is such a crucial hiring process that I considered dragging myself there anyways but it didn't seem like a good idea to scare the candidate with little yelps I emit every time I move without being extra careful or try to take a deeper breath.

I have been part of academic job searches quite a few times either as a candidate or member of a search committee. The main issues that academic job searches run into are a) nepotism and b) a gradual seepage of corporate job interview practices. As for the latter, we are now seeing academic job interviews being gradually poisoned with inane, corporate-inspired questions, such as "Name 3 words that your colleagues might use to describe you" or "What are your biggest strengths/weaknesses." Everybody knows that the only purpose of such ridiculous questions is to make the candidate feel like a fool while scrambling for an answer that is not too trite. While corporate environments use such questions in order to haze the candidates, their purpose in academia remains unclear.

Another huge issue is, as I said, nepotism. Many young academics have no idea how often the results of the campus interviews they prepare for with such an outlay of effort and time are predetermined in favor of somebody who didn't have to interview at all. I was once forced to participate in a round of sham interviews where candidates went through a gruelling 3-day-long campus visit without realizing that nobody ever had the slightest intention of hiring them because the position had been reserved for the wife of a senior faculty member. It is needless to say that said wife never offered to teach a sample class or answer anybody's questions about her credentials (that she most probably didn't have). Seeing those hopeful job candidates killing themselves for a fake hiring process that was only needed to justify hiring somebody's unqualified wife was heart-breaking.

The interview I'm missing today is different in that we are interviewing for a real position, very few corporate-inspired questions that make me cringe with shame whenever I hear them made it onto the question list, and it's the kind of hire that will determine whether I will want to remain working at this institution for the foreseeable future.


Greenconsciousness said...

Are you doing something to let them know you are interested? Because I know that your value shines forth. So I hope they know you are a candidate.

Greenconsciousness said...

Oh I see, you are not the candidate but the interviewer. Well my mistake must mean you will soon receive some kind of a benefit. Oh yes it does.proggrap