Saturday, January 31, 2015

Contest Entry : Rejection Letters, 7

This rejection letter arrived 5 years after the actual application/search process. That seems excessively long.

What do you think:

1. better late than never?

2. if an institution is going to send a 5-year-late rejection, couldn't it be a bit more appropriate?

3. I am just glad to have closure.


January 28, 2015

We, at the University of Wisconsin, would like to thank you for taking the time to express your interest in the FACULTY-OPEN RANK position that you applied for on December 10, 2009. We have now completed the search process and unfortunately you were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, it is our hope that you will continue to consider other employment opportunities at our institution in the future.  Please continue to visit our job site  for the most current opportunities.

Thank you,
Search and Screen Committee Chair

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Contest Entry : Rejection Letters, 6

Sad but apparently true, though I hope it wasn't recently true and I hope the administrators concerned all ended up spending their days dealing with major, expensive all-encompassing software upgrades that were supposed to link many vital academic/administrative systems but instead caused mass chaos that never ended.

Submitted by a reader:

Dear Jane:

Thank you very much for interviewing for the open position, Director of Herding Cats.  We were impressed with your qualifications and we all enjoyed your visit several months ago.  I do apologize for the long delay in getting back to you, but I believe Professor Tuna, head of the search committee, informed you that we made an offer to another candidate.  We appreciate your continued interest in the position.

At this stage, after negotiating a counter offer with her home institution, the candidate has decided to leave the field and accept a highly lucrative position in industry.  The search committee has recommended that, as the second-ranked candidate on the short list, you be offered the position next. 
Unfortunately, the Department Head decided to reopen the interview process by inviting someone ranked below the short list, an acquaintance of his.  That candidate has been offered and has accepted the position.

Thank you again for your interest.


Wira Mess
HR Representative

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Contest Entry: Rejection Letters, 5

A late but great entry!

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in our advertised position. I am very sorry to announce that after careful consideration of your 36 page application by a panel of international experts, we are unable to offer you an interview.

If this makes you feel any better, please consider that despite flying 12 international experts in from around the world, spending an entire week sorting through all the applications in a very expensive conference centre, the result of this is nearly equivalent to a random process.

I say this constructively, i.e. to encourage you to apply again to any future positions we may advertise, since the quality of applications is ultimately uncorrelated with selection to the short list.

An. Eminent Professor (who also happens to be your former advisor).

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Friday, January 02, 2015

Contest Entry: Rejection Letters, 3

Would you want to get a letter like this?

(Too?) Much Information Letter

Dear [applicant name],

We received 154 applications for our advertised position. Of these we selected 32 for a "long list" of applicants and we requested letters of reference for those. You were in this group of 32.

Of those 32, we narrowed the list further to 12 individuals. One or more members of our search committee met with most of these 12 at the Big Conference or at least attended their conference presentation. You were in this group of 12.

Of those 12, we selected 5 to interview. You were not in this group of 5. The selection of the 5 individuals was not based on merit. How could it be? All 12 on the next-to-final short list are highly qualified. In fact the 32 on the long list are highly qualified and probably another dozen or more beyond that.

It might not make you feel better to know that the selection process is nearly random in the end. The struggle is to make that semi-random selection fair (that is, not favoring those we happen to know and like or whose advisors are our friends, trying not to let unconscious bias creep into the process, and so on).

So how did we decide? Is it about that nebulous concept of "fit"? Sort of, but fit can go both ways. The faculty could decide that the best "fit" would be someone who "builds on our strengths" in a certain subfield or "fit" could be defined as needing a person who works on something new and different that would nevertheless somehow "fit" with our vision of exciting future directions. In this search, we interviewed some of each type.

Was there anything in your letters of reference that caused you to be non-selected for an interview? No, there really wasn't anything. All the top candidates had excellent letters of reference.

Was it number of publications? No, it was not. Was it the impact factor of the journals? No. Citation index? Definitely not, you are all too early in your careers for that to be any useful indicator of anything.

In the end, the interview list was selected by the search committee, with input from other faculty and other interested parties, after reading and discussing the application materials, including publications (Perhaps it is useful to mention that the research statement can be quite useful as an indicator of what each applicant's ideas are for future research and teaching.). It is a time-consuming process so even if there is some randomness, it is a thoughtful randomness, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, we interviewed the interviewees and a few stood out and we made an offer to one of them and that person accepted, so our search process has now been completed and we wanted to let you know that.


The Search Committee Chair, on behalf of the Search Committee