Job Search Red Flags

Given the traditional academic hiring cycle, interview season will soon be upon us. I thought both novice and veteran job seekers might find this Harvard Business Review article on interview red flags to be helpful.

A few personal examples of bullets dodged and not dodged:

When individually meeting each member of department during one campus visit, one said about another, “He’s been trying to sabotage my career since I got here.”

During the same routine at another university, it wasn’t until talking privately at the end of the day with the interim chair — a dean — that I learned that the department was in receivership because of interpersonal conflict.

A position was advertised three years in a row. I applied the first time the ad appeared, never even received a rejection notice, and assumed “oh well, someone else got the job.” Applied a second time when the same ad appeared the following year. Several months later, I received a strange email stating that “some” applications had mysteriously disappeared from a locked office and that the search had been halted. The ad appeared again. I applied a third time, interviewed, and received an offer, which I accepted. My probationary contract was not renewed mid-way through my second year on the job, after I had unknowingly helped interview the person who became my replacement.

An interview at a small university included a meeting with the president and vice president for academic affairs. The latter struck me as having the personality of an old-timey small town banker — cautious, conservative, honest. The former seemed like a used car salesman. Less than two months after I had started the job, the president became embroiled in a scandal that received national media coverage. He was eventually forced to resign because of the bad publicity, but not until several other people quit or were fired.