Advice for Job-Fillers

Although probably too late in the calendar year to put into practice, here is a flip-side follow-up to my prior post about campus interviews:

It’s time to stop the costly performative rituals that are contributing to the disintegration of the academy.

Move to a bi-annual or even tri-annual hiring cycle. Academia is the only industry that I know of that limits hiring to an annual schedule. If you operate your searches on a staggered timeline, your applicant pool will probably improve and your top choices will be less likely to be snagged by competitors.

Stop requiring recommendation letters at the beginning of the search process. Demanding otherwise wastes the time of letter writers and applicants. We all know that an overwhelming percentage of these letters are never read because the applications they are part of quickly get tossed. Get references only for those on your short list and then check them.

While the science supports eliminating job interviews entirely, this probably isn’t going to happen, so at least make them less onerous. The pandemic demonstrated that there is no need to bring finalists to campus. And there is no demonstrated benefit in subjecting them to one to two days of back-to-back meetings with people who have no direct effect on the specified duties of the position. Is it essential for every candidate to have a 30-minute conversation with the Associate Director of Strategic Student Development Initiatives? No one who interviews for an IT or facilities management staff position has to suffer through this, and those units function perfectly well.

Finally, per the article linked to above, structure the applicant evaluation process to minimize bias and noise. Use rubrics to score candidates on clearly defined criteria. Collect the results, average them, and distribute this information to the search committee before discussion of the applicants’ relative merits. This will help prevent any single person in the room from unreasonably affecting the outcome.

%d bloggers like this: