Monday, August 20, 2007

Double Interview

Earlier today, my husband encountered the chair of a department at a large private university. This chair said that he had heard that my husband and I were thinking about leaving our current university, and that he would like his university to be 'in the mix' along with the other places we are considering. OK, that's fine, the more the merrier etc.

The strange thing is that this place wants us both to visit at the same time. We would presumably meet with faculty individually, but would give consecutive talks and would attend social functions (meals) together. I'm not sure what we'd do with our daughter -- maybe they want her to give a talk too? -- but we can probably figure something out for a quick trip.

I'm not sure how I feel about this double visit. All the other departments have brought us in separately - both public and private universities - and have made it clear that we would each be valued as individuals. Perhaps a double visit is just an efficient way to take care of the situation. Or perhaps it means that this place thinks of us as a 'package' (which we are, I suppose). I will keep an open mind, see if the visit actually occurs, and if so, how it goes.

13 comments:

Drugmonkey said...

maybe they are hoping to communicate how they would very much like to land the both of you?

Ms.PhD said...

I think it's awesome that they're bringing you together, so you can compare notes as you go along.

I've always thought it was weird and almost smarmy when couples are interviewed and hired as if they're not a couple or as if the negotiations didn't obviously include some component of the 'package deal.' I say, if you're both looking to move, everyone should be up front about it and view it as a positive thing instead of sneaking around like it's anything to be embarrassed about.

Fourier Analyst said...

Just be careful that the uni doesn't consider that the "package" means a 2-for-1 price! Be sure and fight for the salary package that you each deserve!! Good Luck in any case, to both of you.

Bro. Bartleby said...

I vote make it a family affair! Tell them it's a 3-for-1 package.

lost academic said...

As an undergrad, my advisor realized this problem with a visiting professor who was being heavily recruited. He brought his daughter along, and so I was co-opted immediately into giving her a tour of the campus and otherwise finding interesting things to do with her. She was somewhat older than your daughter, a young teenager, but in retrospect, I suppose it was probably surprising that the professor had that option for his daughter at all. I imagine for younger children accommodations can sometimes be made at the campus daycare.

I think you might consider the double visit a positive factor for the university in question. The attitude that you can be considered entirely separately in terms of an actual move is impossible--if your husband or you could not move, the other could not take the job with your current family setup, and bowing to that reality is wise. I think the chair probably decided he wasn't going to waste too much of your joint time on the process and start both balls rolling together to avoid conflicts.

ordinarygirl said...

It probably is a convenience/cost issue, but maybe they think that you prefer to be addressed as a couple. I know that couples will sometimes live apart to pursue their field, but it doesn't sound like something you'd consider. Maybe they want to reassure you that they are interested in both of you.

It is a little awkward though. I know you both would want to be offered a position on your merits, not because of the other.

Anonymous said...

When my husband and I were on the job market (for the second year in a row - the first year had turned up only a visiting position), the schools who interviewed us knew that we were married, and each had two open positions. We were clearly going to be a package deal, and that's ok by me - we do want to be in the same department. One of the departments organized our visits so that they overlapped over a weekend. We each had some 'alone' time in the town and in the department, but we also had a day or so together to see how we reacted to the place. One of the faculty members even had a party at her place the Saturday we were both in town so that we could socialize with faculty & their significant others. I think the department did this because they thought it would be helpful for us, and more pleasant. At the time, we didn't have any kids, so we didn't have to worry about that. I'm sure they would have been just as happy if we had come in separately though - my 2 cents is that this department who is courting you is thinking that you might want to interview together (or that they could save money on the hotel?), but you could easily interview separately, which of course would make child care easier.

Anonymous said...

Efficiency I would think, and maybe the difficulty of getting senior faculty together on different days?

Mr. B. said...

Hiring partners as a tenured pair is a non-trivial commitment by an institution. Hard feelings can be generated if the perception is that one of them is the star and the other we hire so that we can get the star.

So interviewing them as a pair is not a bad strategy, in my opinion. I wouldn't be put off by this and think it is a good idea.

By the way, I assume that at least some of your colleagues know who you are and read your blog? If so, do you think this topic is appropriate?

All the best,

Bonzo

Anonymous said...

I am currently trying very hard to get a couple hired in my department. They will be evaluated on their own merits but they are a 'package' in the sense that they have been very clear -- we can hire both or neither.

I offered them the choice of interviewing in the same week or at separate times. I thought travelling together would be easier. They felt that it would easier to cover for each others classes back home if they came at different times.

My first instinct was to do as was recently done to you and suggest a group visit. I never really thought that meant joint meetings or talks, just joint travel.

Hiring at the senior level is very hard. Assume that any offered arrangements were meant (however misguidedly) to make your life easier -- not theirs.

YAMP.

Frank said...

"...maybe they want her to give a talk too?..."

If this happens, be sure to ask her for permission to post her talk! I'd love to see it! *LOL*

anon said...

Hmm... let's say a group of students were trying to invite an up and coming FSP to give a talk in the department and somebody suggests they could get a 2 for 1 deal by inviting the less famous, but also rather good, husband from the same university? I'm not sure that this is a good idea anymore after I read this post.

They both do very good research in different areas and it would be just perfect... But I can now see the difficulties that I didn't before. "Would you like the same or separate hotel rooms?", "This doeble seminar idea doesn't make you uncomfortable?", etc...

Okay. Any advice?

Anonymous said...

A student of mine did a "double interview" with her spouse. It worked out okay in the end -- they both got very good offers but ended up going elsewhere together. I think it made sense for the university because it's "geographically challenged" and interviewing couples together is one way to ensure the couples learn about the positives of the area. My advisee's biggest worry was that their job talks would be scheduled back to back or that they would be expected to attend one another's presentations. (They have dramatically different presentation styles and she was worried about people's perceptions of this). However, this did not come to pass and they wisely scheduled other things for each candidate to do during job talk time.