A young philosopher writes:
Given the on-going disaster at the Eastern APA, both in terms of the punishing weather and in terms of the brutal job market, I thought I would share my thoughts about a Skype interview I recently did. As someone who is fortunate enough to have a tenure track job that I like very much, I am writing not out of bitterness or frustration but rather in the hopes that I might encourage others in my position to rethink the inexcusable circus that is the Eastern APA job market.
Despite being happy with my present job, where I have served on a few search committees of my own, I applied for a position this year that would put me closer to extended family. Given the sad state of the job market, I was very pleased and thankful to get a Skype interview. Now that I have done the interview, I just wanted to point out that I know of no justification or excuse that would merit the continuation of the current practice of forcing graduate students, visiting and adjunct instructors, and untenured junior professors to endure the cost, stress, and humiliation that have become hallmarks of the job market circus at the APA. Free technology has finally revealed that the emperor that is the job market simply has no clothes. At this point, the *only* thing that speaks in favor of the APA facilitating the present practice is the inertia of tradition.
The purpose of my note to you is to place the burden on the readers of your blog who would continue with the status quo. Given the hardships caused by forcing job candidates to go to the APA, the burden is easy enough to shift to the interviewing departments as well as the APA policies that facilitate the decisions of these departments. Keep in mind that the issue is not the old debate about the empirical data on face to face interviews and whether they introduce unwarranted biases into the hiring process or add any useful information. Nor is the debate about whether phone interviews are adequate substitutes for traditional face to face interviews. For present purposes, we can set those debates to one side. The key issue I am highlighting is: Given that every hiring department can simply use Skype to do video interviews at no cost to either themselves or the candidates, why would any departments continue to participate in the insanity that is the APA job market?
Here are just some of the myriad benefits of Skype interviews over “face to face” APA interviews: (a) they are free for both the departments and the candidates (who often don’t have the money to attend conferences over the holidays in some of the country’s most expensive cities), (b) they are markedly less stressful for the candidates, who are able to do the interviews from the comfort of their homes or offices rather than having to navigate the stress-filled ballrooms, lobbies, hallways, and suites of hotels, (c) they enable both candidates and hiring committees to spend time with their families over the holidays rather than braving the cold and expense of compulsory mid-holiday “vacations” in the north east, (d) they can be scheduled much more flexibly, which not only benefits candidates but also makes it less stressful for the hiring committees themselves, (e) they minimize stress and fatigue as factors that influence hiring decisions by ensuring that candidates and search committees are much more at ease than they would otherwise be, (f) they save money for the departments so that departments have more funding to bring additional candidates to campus, (g) they make it possible for departments to spread out their interviews over a few weeks, making it possible for them to actually interview more candidates under more favorable conditions, and finally, (h) they send a welcomed message to candidates that the hiring department has the good practical and moral sense to set aside the irrational practices of tradition and embrace new methods and ideas that make life easier on everyone involved. That is precisely the kind of department for which I would like to work. So, regardless of whether I am lucky enough to get the job this year, I am committed to ensuring that whenever I serve on hiring committees in the future, I take a stand for progress and against the siren song of tradition. My question for your readers is: Who’s with me?