The lower depths

New Kid on the Hallway has a comprehensive post about the hiring process , particularly about what happens when the committee is culling the applicant pool and deciding whom to interview, that demonstrates why, if you are a graduate student, you should seize any chance you have to sit on a hiring committee.  I never did this at my graduate institution, but I have done it at a college and I am also watching a search for a high-level administrator unfold at one of my institutions (adjunct input has been warmly solicited, as the successful candidate will affect us).  It gives you an excellent (even if incomplete) sense of the different forces at work in the hiring process, and it also makes you appreciate that the candidate only gets to see a narrow slice of those forces. 

(And New Kid, focusing on how “no one candidate can do/be all things” to a search committee, didn’t even descend to the sordid level of what happens when candidate A is from an institution that denied Professor X tenure or when candidate B works in an area that Professor Y loves and Professor Z refuses to consider scholarship.  Or simply when a search committee, despite the hiring department’s best efforts, contains two people who never agree on anything, ever, on principle, like the Mathemagician and King Azaz in The Phantom Tollbooth.)

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