Paying Their Own Way For Job Interviews


A junior job candidate reports that twice this season she has been invited for on-campus interviews but told that the inviting departments would not be able to pay for her travel to the campuses. At all. This is like being invited over for dinner but then told that you will have to bring all of the food and drink. It’s like being taken out for a night on the town but then told you will first have to build the town. It’s like someone handing you a gift bag and then saying that you have to hunt all over the neighborhood for the gifts that are supposed to go in it. No, wait. That last one sounds kind of fun. Scratch that. It’s like being invited for an on-campus interview but then told you will have to pay for your own travel there.

One of the candidate’s interviews was for a tenure-track position, the other for a visiting one. In neither case were the the locations within a reasonable drive. She declined both interviews. (On behalf of the profession, I thank her for that.) Have others had this experience?

Also, WTF?  People in departments that do this, please explain. We really do not want to think of you as cruelly exploiting the hopes of desperate job candidates who, typically being graduate students, are usually in no position to afford to purchase travel on the one-in-three chance of employment, but whom you need in order to prove to HR that you ran a sufficiently wide search. We do not want to think of you as using “ability to pay” as a way of winnowing down the finalists for positions. We don’t want to think of you as being so lousy with accounting that this is what you decide to leave out of the budget. So help us understand what is going on.

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Lynne Tirrell
Lynne Tirrell
6 years ago

Thanks for writing this, Justin, because this cannot become an actual Practice! It is despicable. If they cannot pay, they should stop the search (or do another round of skype interviews?). Jeez.Report

Kris McDaniel
Kris McDaniel
6 years ago

I agree — that’s a horrible, inexcusable practice.Report

Pacific Coast philosopher
Pacific Coast philosopher
6 years ago

Yes, it’s a terrible practice. Our department learned this year that the university wouldn’t pay for travel for international candidates. For our one non-U.S.-based candidate, we paid the domestic portion of the candidate’s airfare, but the candidate had to pick up the international portion. We told the candidate about this beforehand, and the candidate agreed to the campus visit anyway. It’s utter nonsense, but note that this was a university-level policy, not a departmental decision — I’m guessing that’s true in most cases by the way.Report

Anonymous Post Doc
Anonymous Post Doc
6 years ago

I was once invited for an on-campus interview, with travel supposedly covered, but when the department realised that I would have to fly in from Europe to the USA, they withdrew not only the offer of travel expenses but the interview altogether! I then (in desperation) offered to pay for my own air-fare, but they would not budge and withdrew the offered interview entirely.
I still get angry when I think about it, though now, with benefit of hindsight, I am relieved not to be at that department.
(For some reason I am coyly not saying which department it was, though I am quite tempted to name and shame them . . . )Report

Anon post doc
Anon post doc
6 years ago

Wow. Are you sure the reason the offer was taken off the table is because of international travel? If so, wow. Just wow. I thought my own experiences of departments not offering to pay for travel expenses related to interviews was bad. But this just blows my mind.Report

anon'
anon'
6 years ago

Such departments, at least for tenure-track positions, might be signaling to certain candidates that they’re token finalists — so that going through the expense of staging an actual show is likely not worth the expense to either party. As long as philosophy departments continue to use certain candidates in this way, the practice isn’t unreasonable.Report

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

This is a despicable and predatory practice. Why not name the departments who do this? Then their next ads can be flagged. Seriously, to hell with these people!Report

Precariat
Precariat
6 years ago

I was offered an on campus interview at a UK university for a multiple year visiting position. I was told that if I did not pay my way there, I would have to have a Skype interview while all the other finalists had in person interviews. I was later told by a friend in the department that interviewing by Skype and not appearing on campus ruined any chance at that I had at that position.Report

Douglas W. Portmore
6 years ago

Could you have abandoned on-campus interviewing altogether? It seems to me that the only fair thing to do is to abandon on-campus interviews if you cannot pay for all your finalists to come.Report

M
M
6 years ago

Well, when there is a reserve army of unemployed about, it is not all that surprising that the terms under which employment is negotiated, and not just the terms of employment themselves, become increasingly exploitative. But, yes. To hell with these people.Report

Michelle
Michelle
6 years ago

If this is problematic (which it totally is), then the same should apply to holding interviews at the APA. It’s expensive to go to the APA. Going just for an interview (or even a number of them) is a huge financial burden on a grad student / postdoc / underemployed philosopher. This is something that’s been discussed before, but I believe it’s worth ruminating on again, in this context.Report

Jennifer Frey
Jennifer Frey
6 years ago

It seems to me that if department can’t afford to interview, it’s probably not an institution you want to join. Imagine what else they have no money for.Report

Anon post doc
Anon post doc
6 years ago

I think there is also an issue of desperation and preying on that desperation. Candidates could feel like any opportunity to get a full time job in our job market climate is worth taking when the alternative is no job. It may not be the best institution, or even one that you ideally want to work for, but may be better than no job or underemployment. I think departments know this and are using it to their advantage because if a candidate declines the interview with no paid travel expenses, I’m sure there is another candidate that will pay his/her travel expenses for the chance of getting a full time job.Report

C
C
6 years ago

Or perhaps they should just search locally? Or at least indicate that they will be expecting candidates to travel for campus visits if they wish to be considered for the position?

I think I agree that this is undesirable, though I’m not sure I can say why precisely. Surely most other jobs out there don’t cover travel expenses for the candidates? Though I suspect that it is more likely for professional positions (doctors lawyers etc). But for the most part that is a result of the desire to get the strongest candidates and the belief that the local market may not be adequate for that. It is likely part of a wine and dine mentality.

So what happens when the profession produces 10x the number of qualified candidates needed? Well, the search need not perhaps be that comprehensive. And so perhaps a further step in the evolution of academic job markets will be that many institutions will simply hire close to home, since any number of major metropolitan areas are lousy with frustrated Ph.d’s.

Presitigious institutions (i.e. wealthy ones) will likely still fly the top national candidates in, but the undermining of the national APA interviews may also suggest to administrators that we don’t really need to do national searches for many perhaps even most academic positions! The critiques of the old practices may have significant undesirable consequences (year-round-hiring, more local searches, fewer interviews overall).Report

Dani
Dani
6 years ago

This is awful but not unheard of, and I think it is more standard practice in the UK and Europe. A couple of years ago I was invited for an on-campus interview for a 3-year post-doc in Germany. Not only was I to pay my own way (from the US), but they notified me of the interview about 10 days in advance, so I was looking at airfare of around $2500. I turned it down just on that basis.Report

Tom
Tom
6 years ago

Is it always necessary to protect the names of the institutions engaging in this practice, or the names of institutions who have engaged in a similar practices in the past, as related by “Anonymous Post Doc” above?Report

anon job seeker
anon job seeker
6 years ago

I too am at a loss to see how this is any worse than making candidates pay their own way for APA interviews. At least in a self-paid campus visit your odds of receiving the job are (presumably) much better. I’ve spent thousands of dollars attending APA interviews, cutting short precious vacation time with family. I don’t think this is any worse, though I do believe both practices ought to be stopped.Report

Brian Weatherson
6 years ago

I agree that what’s posted in the OP is horrible, and departments shouldn’t do this. But like Michelle @11 and anon job seeker @17, I think the common reaction here smacks of double standards. Anyone who is upset by this should either (a) abandon APA interviews, or (b) pay for interviewees to attend the APA. I think I spent more going to the APA as an Australian grad student than any of the sums being quoted here as possible expenses, and flights have only got more expensive since then.

I know there’s a convention _pay your own way to APA, be paid to come to campus_, and what’s reported in the OP is a violation of that convention. But I don’t know what the convention has to be said for it, other than that’s the way things have always been done.Report

Another postdoc
Another postdoc
6 years ago

In some parts of Germany there seems to be a law against it – or so I’ve been told, by a committee member who felt terrible about it. No idea why they have such an absurd law….Report

MarriedToTheStruggle
MarriedToTheStruggle
6 years ago

In the last two years on the market, I’ve encountered an increasing number of departments that required me to pay for my campus visit flight and hotel, but reimbursed me. This is onerous enough, particularly in one case where it took them 4 months to reimburse. I certainly hope that anyone told they have to pay their own way will refuse the interview. It is economically unjust.

I have to agree that requiring job-seeking philosophers to pay to attend APA is also burdensome, but there is an alternative there: first round interviews can be conducted via Skype, and increasingly, they are. All my first rounds this year were via Skype. Last year, I was offered the option of Skype or APA, and I opted for Skype in every case. I also got campus visits in every case, so choosing Skype does not seem to have hurt me. But back in the old days, one might have expected multiple APA interviews, which would limit the per interview cost of traveling to APA. The last time I attended APA, I had three interviews. But that was several years ago, and I suspect the situation has since changed, especially since departments are increasingly moving away from APA interviews.

So, in answer to Brian, the pay your own way to APA convention was established in different times, when Skype was not available, when airfares were cheaper, and when applicants could expect multiple interviews while also attending a professional philosophy conference.Report

Tom
Tom
6 years ago

Responding to 17 and 18, perhaps there is more than a violation of convention here. Some job seekers attending the APA also present papers at the APA and are able to seek reimbursement from their home department for the APA visit. Such reimbursement is not available (I presume) for on-campus interviews. I fully realize that these practices vary, and vary according to whether or not the job seeker is a grad student or recent grad, adjunct, visiting prof, or post-doc.Report

Anon On the Market
Anon On the Market
6 years ago

anon job seeker: As someone that has paid for my own fly-outs this year, let me explain a few things. First, I also had to pay to attend the APA, too. This isn’t an exclusive either-or, its another level of screwing those in your/our position. Second, at least for first-round interviews, most institutions will allow for Skype interviews, even those that have in-person interviews at the APA. Contrast this with fly-outs: If I do not pay to interview on campus, I may explicitly be eliminated from consideration or I agree to a series of Skype interviews which effectively kills my chances (especially if I am against those that fly out), as Precariat explained. Third, the fact that you have good chances of landing the position with a fly-out doesn’t make it more acceptable. That dynamic just makes it more pernicious: I HAVE to pay for a fly-out because my chances are good and this might be my only or one of my only opportunities this year. If I had to drop 2k for a single APA interview, I’d probably say no to that. It’s hard to say no to spending 2k for a roughly 1/3 chance of getting a TT philosophy position. Which makes the practice unconscionable.Report

Retiree
Retiree
6 years ago

As a former search committee member, we worked with a travel agent to prepay the plane tickets and relieve that burden on applicants. (Once, though, a candidate cancelled at the last minute to accept an offer from a marginally better campus. The airline credited HIM with the partial value of the cancelled trip, not us. He said he’d send us a check, but never did.) We also worked out direct pay by us with the hotel and prepay with the airport shuttle. I was not at a wealthy campus, so this is eminently do-able.
For the international fares, I wonder if they were also nervous about the very long, cumbersome process of getting work visas post-9/11, which can delay the start of work by a full semester. They might try to signal that up front, but it would probably run afoul of some kind of discrimination rule.Report

B
B
6 years ago

I had seven campus interviews over a three-year span (2009-2011), some tenure-track, some non-tenure track. Four of the seven involved train or bus rides, and three involved flying. I was compensated for the three flying trips and for one of the four trips that involved train or bus rides. The other three of the four trips that involved train or bus rides left me to pay for it myself. Of those three trips where I paid my own way, I am not pissed at two of the schools, since they actually gave me jobs in the end (a post-doc in one case and a tenure-track job, later, in the other case). To this day, though, I am still pissed at the school that had me pay my own way and didn’t give me the job. Maybe this reflects more poorly on me than on the school. I don’t know. But, rightly or wrongly, I still get pissed when I think about it.Report

anon job seeker
anon job seeker
6 years ago

To Anon on the Market (#22): I don’t see that there is anything to be gained in arguing about which is worse, paying for on campus visits or paying for APA interviews. I imagine opinions will vary. My own recent experience of dropping my holiday plans and paying an alarming sum of money for a single APA interview where the open hostility I faced made it obvious within minutes that the committee had no real interest in hiring me colors my own opinion. I have never been in the situation you describe, though it it too sounds terrible and might in fact be worse. The larger point is that both practices harm vulnerable members of the profession and ought to be stopped. If your department cannot pay for in person interviews, and I recognize that some departments cannot, you should make hiring decisions without them.Report

Another anon
Another anon
6 years ago

?? The practice seems even worse if the candidates aren’t even really in the running, and are just being used. The candidates have no way of knowing whether this is what the department is really signaling. So they might end up paying their own way just to be used in this way.Report

Fritz Allhoff
Fritz Allhoff
6 years ago

In some other hiring contexts, this is completely the norm. I’m thinking in particular about law clerkships, in which as many as 10 people might bear the expense of flying somewhere to meet with a judge for an hour. There the odds are a lot longer than three people coming to an on campus interview. Even fellowships at law schools often work the same way. And law students probably have a lot more debt–though also more earning potential–than philosophers.

Even within philosophy, one thing that often comes up is a dean saying s/he’ll pay for 2 people to come to campus, but that the department can pay for additional candidates. Say the department doesn’t have any money. Consider the following two options: first, it interviews two people; second, it gives the third person the option of paying for his/her own visit. If I were the third person, I’d much rather be given the choice to pay my own way than be unable to interview. (Further suppose HR rules prohibit the hiring of a tenure-track faculty member without on-campus interviews, which is also probably the norm.)Report

Kris McDaniel
Kris McDaniel
6 years ago

I’ve been arguing publicly against APA interviews for years and years, and my department has not done APA interviews for at least the last four job searches we’ve done. I agree that APA interviews are horrible too.Report

Another anon
Another anon
6 years ago

#26 Another anon was a response to #6 anon’.Report

John Schwenkler
6 years ago

@ Fritz Allhoff: Surely one of the problems with the scenario you describe in your #27 — or, for that matter, any other situation where candidates have to pay significant amounts of money to be interviewed, including at the APA — is that it will make it so that the candidate who is asked to pay her own way is more or less likely to get the job depending on her financial situation.Report

Mark van Roojen
6 years ago

Brian, one benefit of existing conventions is that they serve a coordinating and leveraging function in establishing minimum decent treatment. So I think it pretty important that there is a convention that departments pay for flyouts. I think it is serious when someone doesn’t live up to what have been the standards about how job applicants are treated. And that remains true when the conventions aren’t as protective as they ought to be. So I don’t think it is hypocrisy for people to be more worried about this than they are about departments interviewing at the APA. And I think it important that departments/universities that violate this norm know that it does not reflect well on them. (FWIW, I know sometimes departments don’t have control over what they are allowed to do, but still such conventions give them something to use in arguing with their administrators.)Report

OhNoDontKnow
OhNoDontKnow
6 years ago

I’m a grad student, so I don’t know anything. But I’m just imagining being a one of say, ten professors in a philosophy department with an average salary of, I don’t know, 60K? Now I’m imagining all the frequent flyer miles we’ve each accumulated over the years. Now I’m trying to justify NOT pitching in the 20 bux that might be required of me if we decided to pool our own funds and flyer-miles to buy the tickets. And I’m having a really hard time not doing it. F, I’d pitch it in with what I make now. Is there some rule against this or something? Is this the dumbest suggestion ever? Enlighten me please.Report

Anonymous Me
Anonymous Me
6 years ago

I’m at an institution that does not pay for candidates to fly to our interviews, nor do we conduct interviews at the APA. I’ve been on a hiring committee at this institution in the past. If resources were unlimited and I had complete control over how those resources were used, we wouldn’t use adjuncts, we would pay for everyone to fly out to interview, we’d reduce teaching loads, and we’d reduce class sizes. It’s not as simple as it’s being portrayed, it’s rather messy and the reasons are largely structural, historical, and bureaucratic. For instance, which of those above would you prioritize? Is paying for candidates to come to the institution more valuable than smaller classes? I don’t have a good answer. I’m just showing the sorts of decisions that I struggle with as a faculty member.

To be honest, though, I’m hesitant to post a comment here of any length. As I read the original post, I don’t get a sense of someone who’s sincerely requesting an understanding of why an institution might not pay for a candidate’s trip. For instance, I don’t think the analogies provided are fair. From my eyes, it’s not at all that you were taken out for a night but then told that you have to build the town. Rather, I think, it’s more like a call was put out asking if anyone was interested in joining me for a night on the town. You answered the call and then expected me to pay. (At some institutions, that’s a reasonable expectation). Nevertheless, not much hinges on this. The writing was amusing. I cracked a smile when I read it. I suspect it’s written from a good place of wanting to protect exploited graduate students and making sure the profession is as good and just as it can be. If that’s the case, I’m thankful that the post was written.

My institution is a community college. I know the attitude of some philosophers about community college jobs. It was my attitude at one point too. So maybe there’s no interest in my saying anything further about why the hiring practices are they way they are at institutions like mine. I’m happy to share more if you are curious. The quick answer is that flying out candidates for our positions would reduce the overall number of jobs we can offer. Getting new tenure-track faculty is an absolute priority for us, it’s a source of constant struggle with administration. The college as a whole has been very happy with the quality of new faculty we are able to recruit, and so there isn’t the political will (yet) to change compensation for candidates. Also, our student population consists of largely of students who are economically disadvantaged, and lot of our energy goes into making eduction as inexpensive and as good as possible. It’s frankly a hard argument to make to the community at large (who fund us) that part of our budget will be spent on flying out potential faculty.

Though, as far as four-year institutions are concerned, I’ve never heard of a candidate having to pay for a final fly out. That does seem odd. I’m just as curious as anyone.Report

anon junior
anon junior
6 years ago

I was recently invited to a UK university for an on campus interview. In the fine print of the invitation was a clause stating that while they would reimburse me for my flight and accommodation expenses, if they offered me the position and I declined, I’d have to pay all costs. Needless to say, I declined with a laugh.Report

Plouffe
Plouffe
6 years ago

“It seems to me that if department can’t afford to interview, it’s probably not an institution you want to join. Imagine what else they have no money for.”

Spoken like a person with a job.Report

Aaron W
Aaron W
6 years ago

It sounds like some departments need to do a better job convincing the admin that, if the institution cannot afford to pay for fly-outs, then a second round of skype interviews would be sufficient.

If admin insists that fly-outs are necessary for proper faculty hiring, and yet refuse to pay for any of the expenses, then all the faculty need to get together and threaten to burn the fu*&ing admin down.Report

p
p
6 years ago

I find most of the comments here unintelligible. I do not see why departments should be under any obligations whatsoever to pay for candidates to come either to the APA or to pay for the fly-outs. I think it is a great tradition that they pay for the fly-outs – if they can afford it – but why should that be some sort of duty on their part? They post a job ad and run the search with two rounds of interviews. If you want the job, come to the interviews. This is how it works in vast majority of jobs. I assume that paying for the fly-outs is often connected with there being a sense that the departments want, at that stage, show their strong interest in the candidate – and it makes sense to me that then they want to pay – especially if it is some sort of competitive hire from their point of view. But other than that, it seems to me purely an act of good will. I agree #33 above. There can be many competing considerations and places with little budgets have to make decisions that places with much larger budgets simply do not face.Report

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago

A few years ago, our department hired a new Financial Officer, to manage the department’s finances. Good job: it pays well, great benefits, good working conditions, etc. We expect candidates to be fairly well educated: most of them have various accountancy credentials, all have undergraduate degrees, some have MBA’s. Departments and other units at my institution regularly hire administrative staff at various levels, some paying in the six figures, but I have never heard of flying non-local candidates here and paying for their accommodations. Question: Does justice demand that we fly out all non-local candidates for all jobs at our university? If not, does justice demand that we fly out candidates for faculty positions?

Note: I am not asking what self-interest demands, but what justice demands.Report

Anon On the Market
Anon On the Market
6 years ago

p: Unintelligible? That’s a pretty severe assessment.

I do not doubt that departments face difficult budget decisions, especially in this context. However, job candidates–many grad students, employed part-time, or temporarily employed–are amongst the most vulnerable, powerless, and (relatively) poor members of our community. I think we ought to aspire to support such individuals (and all of the so-disadvantaged), even when it might be a detriment to departments’ finances. Of course there is a give and take here, as Anonymous Me well described. But the more extreme position, “If you want the job, come to the interviews. This is how it works in vast majority of jobs,” seems harsh. Fritz Allhoff also mentioned that self-paid interviews are the practice in other fields. I contend that we ought to question such practices and consider our obligations to the disadvantaged in our community.

Moreover, by forcing candidates to shell out for their visits one makes a certain level of financial security a de facto requirement for the position, as others, like John Schwenkler, have noted. That seems eminently problematic: should one’s financial situation impact her ability to get a job in philosophy?Report

p
p
6 years ago

I think many people’s financial situation severely impacts their ability to get jobs – in fact, most people can only look for jobs around the area they live. I know people who have real troubles paying 20-50 dollars for a trip anywhere, even while they have two jobs. So, I am not sure that the fact that a few schools cannot afford to pay a plane ticket and a hotel to the three people whom they consider candidates for a generally above-average-salary position is the most pressing social issue.Report

MarriedToTheStruggle
MarriedToTheStruggle
6 years ago

While there are many campuses in metropolitan areas that are home to an abundance of nearby schools from which they might draw new faculty, there are also many, like my uni, that are quite isolated. It costs me about $900 to fly anywhere in the US (including within my own state), and with the connecting flights, it takes the better part of a day to get there (again, that includes within my own state). Were my uni to be restricted to hiring locally, they’d be in a lot of trouble. In fact, it would be impossible. But asking job candidates to shell out over a thousand dollars to interview here would be pretty prohibitive, and it’s unlikely very many would take the bait. To cut costs, the norm here is to invite only two candidates to campus. If neither of them is acceptable (it happens!) or they turn us down (it happens!) a dept can get dispensation to invite a third candidate.

Since a school like mine cannot hire locally, and cannot really expect high quality faculty to pay their way to this podunk corner of nowhere (lord knows I wouldn’t, knowing what I know), it is advantageous for them to pay for campus visits. Wealthier schools will also continue to pay for fly-outs. The schools that can’t, or won’t, will have to prey on the most desperate (of which there are, of course, many these days), who will also probably be the people least able to afford such an expenditure. Or they can hire locally, if they can. It does not seem to me to be a sustainable practice.Report

Canuck Grad Student
6 years ago

“If you want the job, come to the interviews. This is how it works in vast majority of jobs.”

The vast majority of jobs are a rather poor analogy for the outlier that is the academic job market. Institutions and candidates are spread across continents. You can’t expect to find a pool of early modern scholars who specialized in Malebranche and Spinoza that can also teach intro ethics and basic logic within 80 miles of Gary, Indiana the way Wal-Mart can expect to find suitable candidates for mopping floors and stacking shelves. Grad students have have a decade of foregone earnings and other opportunity costs in a climate of increasing debt and tuition, struggling in a job market where specialized positions can be thousands of miles away.

At the end of the day you might argue that we knew this when we signed up, but ‘vast majority of jobs’ is a piss-poor argument.Report

p
p
6 years ago

Actually, I do not think academic job is such an outlier – the demand for jobs is much higher than the supply. The budgets are tight. There are always large amounts of qualified candidates available. What is the incentive for employers to pay for the travel cost? Again, I am not denying that it is good or right or socially responsible that they do so, I am asking whether they are under any obligation or have any prudentially valid reasons to do so. None were given. You speak of “collective action” but all i can see is talk on blogs – and that is cheap. What are you going to do about it? Write more blog posts? What effect will that have on any administration? Or do we just like to find another issue to be outraged about? So far, most – I assume serious majority – of departments does pay at least for the fly outs and those who do not, are usually really working with very limited money.Report

Aaron W
Aaron W
6 years ago

” You speak of “collective action” but all i can see is talk on blogs – and that is cheap. What are you going to do about it? Write more blog posts? What effect will that have on any administration? Or do we just like to find another issue to be outraged about? ”

The readers of this blog can call on all the relevant faculties to do a better job at negotiating with their administrations when it comes to these matters, to try to convince them either to pay for fly-outs or not to require fly-outs for 2nd round interviews.

Considering many members of philosophy faculties frequent this blog, this call to faculty is not all that cheap.Report

One more job market anecdote
One more job market anecdote
6 years ago

One more piece of anecdata, for what it’s worth: I’ve been been told, after the fact, by members of two different search committees that I would have been invited for an interview (one at the APA; the other on-campus) if not for the fact that they were worried about the cost of flying me from Europe. I now explicitly offer in my cover letters to pay for all transatlantic travel.Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

“For instance, I don’t think the analogies provided are fair. From my eyes, it’s not at all that you were taken out for a night but then told that you have to build the town. Rather, I think, it’s more like a call was put out asking if anyone was interested in joining me for a night on the town. You answered the call and then expected me to pay.”

I sympathize with having to make difficult decisions on a tight budget, and I don’t think the host-guest metaphor fits a hiring situation very well. However, it is quite rude in general to assume the role of host and then expect the guest to pay for things required to attend the event. If you invite someone out to dinner, you’re supposed to pay unless some other arrangement is worked out in advance to mutual agreement. This is why wedding gifts are not strictly obligatory and why guests invited to a potluck need to agree to be full participants in such an event up front, so that they are not being taken advantage of. Only poor hosts expect guests to pay for the privilege of being guests.

If we must force the metaphor, what does a person do when she wishes to host but lacks sufficient resources? She hosts the sort of event that her resources will allow: in this case, interviews facilitated by online streaming video. My institution does this sort of interview on a regular basis for all sorts of positions. It is an excellent alternative even when one wants to fly out the finalist to be sure of a good fit.Report

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

p says: “Actually, I do not think academic job is such an outlier – the demand for jobs is much higher than the supply. The budgets are tight. There are always large amounts of qualified candidates available. What is the incentive for employers to pay for the travel cost? Again, I am not denying that it is good or right or socially responsible that they do so, I am asking whether they are under any obligation or have any prudentially valid reasons to do so.”

First, the same is true of many jobs for which employers pay for the travel expenses of interviewed candidates. It simply isn’t true that outside academic an employer normally would not cover those costs. I imagine practices are mixed and the limited evidence I have suggests that paying for travel is the standard.

Second, I don’t understand why you appear to have assumed that “good” and “right” and “socially responsible” do not overlap with “obligatory” or “prudentially valid” such that providing one sort of reason cannot count as providing the other sort. No matter how good the job market is for employers, I cannot imagine that they recommend themselves well to their preferred candidates by placing an unusual financial burden on the candidate. In doing so they probably increase the likelihood of hiring only candidates who had no other options, and they begin building the case that any employee who does take the job should be trying to move out of it to a better one as soon as possible. I have worked in places where we relied on the internet to spare us the great expenses of printer paper and ink, so I understand the burden of a tiny budget. I feel for faculty who are forced into this situation by administrators they cannot hope to control. What I don’t understand is why anyone else would seek to justify it as a reasonable practice.Report

sb
sb
6 years ago

Retiree (#23): What is a “travel agency”?Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

I want to at least briefly return to Brian Weatherson’s comment above about there being a double standard when expecting job candidates to pay for APA travel, but expecting interviewing departments to pay for on-campus interviews. At least historically, I don’t think there’s a double standard there at all. There are several relevant disanlogies between the two cases:

1. Historically at least, many people interviewed with more than one department, so there was never any kind of exclusive bond with particular departments (Yes, I know that’s rarely ever the case anymore. But it made a great deal of sense until circa 2007. And this’ll be sort of moot soon anyway, as I think APA interviews are going to start dying off quickly as the conference moves into January.).
2. The APA is a conference, too. Job candidates have many opportunities at the conference – hearing papers, networking, presenting their own work, etc. There’s nothing like this for the on-campus interview.
3. It’s understood that the APA interview is pretty much a first introduction. The interviewing department is still trying to establish whether it’s interested in your candidacy. Presumably by the point of an on-campus interview, the department is feeling pretty good about you. Good enough to…pay for your travel.Report

Matt Drabek
Matt Drabek
6 years ago

Also, to clear up kind of an infelicity in #2 above – obviously you can network with a small group at the on-campus. But you don’t have the kind of large crowd/mass networking potential you get at the APA.Report

twbb
twbb
6 years ago

“First, the same is true of many jobs for which employers pay for the travel expenses of interviewed candidates. It simply isn’t true that outside academic an employer normally would not cover those costs. I imagine practices are mixed and the limited evidence I have suggests that paying for travel is the standard.”

I don’t think it’s the standard for most jobs. Generally, companies will pay in fields where the position is to be filled from a relatively small pool of people with the qualifications sought, and the travel expenses make up a tiny percentage of what the total compensation will be. Companies generally don’t pay travel expenses out of courtesy or morality, but simply because they need to fill those positions. Since entry-level faculty don’t meet those requirements, it makes sense from an economic perspective not to offer travel expenses.Report