A recent job seeker writes:
Young people on the job market spend a lot of time worrying about their own behavior, their own performance, their own competitiveness and so on. Having recently come off the job market myself, I feel that there are aspects of the behavior of search committees that also need to be addressed. I recently heard back from a search committee that interviewed me at the APA. This was the first I had heard from them since I walked out of the interview in December. From December until mid-March, I did not hear a word. A second search committee wrote to me in late January with an email that struck me as so close to dishonest that I wasn't sure how I was supposed to reply - a friend received the same email and felt the same way. This particular search committee wrote to me to tell me that, as it turned out, it was all going to be more difficult than they anticipated and that they would not have *any* further information for me until later in the year. What they neglected to mention in that email was that they had, in fact, scheduled campus interviews, but they had not decided to give me one. With websites such as this one - http://phylo.info/jobs - Facebook, and the increasingly international nature of the discipline, it is not hard to find information on who has scheduled interviews and who hasn't.
In my case, I had other possibilities in the pipeline which meant I could just watch this strange behavior and smile. Had I not had other things in the pipeline, however, I would surely have been climbing the walls. I had several friends who were also party to less than transparent emails, or complete silence, throughout this process as well. And those people were climbing the walls because, as is so often the case, their hopes for any kind of academic future were pinned on the tiny number of places that they made it to the interview stage at. I even had one friend who wrote to a department out of desperation for news on the scheduling of campus interviews only to receive a waffly reply about not yet having made any decisions. He found out later that day that not only had that search committee scheduled campus interviews, they had offered the job to someone else.
I understand that the hiring process is complex, and that departments might need to hold their cards close to their chests, as it were, but this process is difficult for *everyone* involved. I don't think it is alright to leave people hanging for months. Nor do I think it is alright to send out emails that, perhaps even subtly, misrepresent the stage of the process a search committee is at. With a timely email to the effect that 'whilst your application is still active, we regret to inform you that you have not been selected for a campus interview', everyone can get on with their lives.
Thoughts from readers?