Philosopher Colin Marshall (Washington) writes:
Almost every department I know of gives the job talk a central role in hiring decisions, but I'm wondering whether the traditional job talk really deserves to be sacred while other aspects of the hiring process are changing.
My main reason for skepticism is that I know a number of young philosophers who are (a) great researchers, (b) great teachers, (c) great members of the profession, and (d) great departmental citizens, but who, for various reasons, aren't great at presenting their research to a room full of judgmental strangers, most of whom are non-specialists. The latter skill isn't a bad one to have, but it's surely much less important than (a)-(d). Yet in the traditional job talk, this latter skill is what's privileged, and often used to make judgments about (a)-(d). That seems like a recipe for false negatives.
So here's my question: what alternatives to the job talk have hiring departments tried for campus visits, and are there un-tried alternatives we should consider? I have a hunch that our profession could do much better. [There is the further question of whether we should have campus visits at all, but I'm hoping to bracket that.]