Academic hiring is an icky thing, especially for elite colleges and universities… the process is effectively seasonal, so if you don’t get hired one year you need to wait an entire year to try again… ish!
It’s also highly competitive, with many more completed Ph.D.s than tenure-track openings. It takes a lot of luck, a bit of skill and often good connections to get the chance to do a three-day marathon on-campus interview — and the prize is a position making 50K teaching undergrads….
Before my rant, I should be clear that my own hiring process at Century wasn’t at all this way — Community Colleges are different. I had one interview with one committee… an hour. It seems I did ok :).
My rant today is about the initial interview process. I’m thinking about it because Hurricane Isaac forced the Political Scientists to cancel their fall meeting. They anonymously interviewed a few poli sci graduate students who complained about missing the opportunity to strut their stuff… ummm, yep.
The thing is, I know of no other kind of hiring that makes candidates show up at a national convention for the first round of interviews. Every association is about the same (Philosophy is no different)… the conventions are held in expensive cities during the school year — or, in the case of philosophy, over winter break. Getting in and out of one of those three-day affairs for under $1500 requires significant travel ninja skills and a lot of effort.
Adding insult to injury, many departments don’t decide whom to interview until a couple of weeks before the convention… so an applicant takes a risk when they buy airline tickets and make hotel reservations in advance…
The thing is, the APSA cancellation gives a good test case for other kinds of interviews / screening etc… many departments are doing their interviews by phone or SCYPE — which seems to be rather humane. Perhaps they’ll realize that they should do it the same way every year… hmmmm…