Hiring Departments: Don’t Do This


A philosophy department hiring this year publicly announced who it hired (a) before it had received a signed contract from the candidate and (b) without first asking the candidate. Hiring departments, don’t do this.

It’s best to check with the candidate first. Why?

  1. A signed contract and/or explicit permission from the candidate is a good sign that the department and the candidate have not misunderstood what each party wants and thinks they’ve agreed to.
  2. Accepting an academic job offer without withdrawing one’s candidacy from other searches is unprofessional and unkind. It’s reasonable for a candidate to wait to withdraw from other job searches until one has accepted the job in question in writing. Without a signed contract or explicit consent from the candidate, a department’s premature hiring announcement risks making the candidate look unprofessional and unkind.
  3. A candidate may have reasons for wanting to be able to control how some people (say, family or friends) learn about him or her being hired. Surprise public announcements by the hiring department can interfere with this.

Further, there are no strong reasons for the hiring department to make the announcement without either a signed contract or the explicit permission of the candidate. Even if a department thinks that news of the hire will induce prospective graduate students to attend their program, it is only under rare circumstances that there is no time to first seek the permission of the candidate, and in those circumstances the news can be shared more discreetly than a public announcement.

Hiring departments, I understand you are excited about your new hires, but contain yourselves—for a day or two—ok?

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On the Job Market
On the Job Market
4 years ago

I agree that hiring committees shouldn’t announce hiring someone before they’ve received a signed contract from the candidate. It seems even worse that they announced it before informing the candidate him-/herself. My question concerns when a department should send out rejection letters to unsuccessful candidates. Should they wait until someone has signed a contract to notify the other interviewees? Should non-shortlisted candidates receive a rejection letter as soon as a shortlist has been determined?Report

asst prof
asst prof
Reply to  On the Job Market
4 years ago

I don’t know what the common practice is, but when I was interviewing, one school kindly kept me updated along the way. They let me know when they were done interviewing and when they would have decisions. They let me know that they were offering a job to another candidate, but that they really liked me and I was #2. They also let me know when they received a signed contract. This was ideal. I know there are worries about making someone feel ‘2nd best’ … but that was a non-issue. I would have happily and without any hard feelings accepted a job offer from them. It was way better than waiting for weeks after I knew decisions were made, and inferring that I was on some kind of short list, or not being considered anymore. Transparency goes a long way.

I think a school should inform a candidate when they are no longer being considered. This could happen even if they don’t have a signed contract, if they didn’t like the interview and have ruled the candidate out.Report

asst prof
asst prof
Reply to  On the Job Market
4 years ago

ps. That also goes for 1st interviewees who don’t make it to the second round. Twice I was invited for a flyout even though I didn’t make the “first round” shortlist, because another candidate had accepted a job offer in the meantime, or their first round people didn’t work out for whatever reason. In both of those cases, open and honest communication from the department was important. They both informed me that they had made their invitations, but they wished they could have invited me as well, and if for some reason they could make another invitation, I would be invited, and promised to keep me in the loop and let me know I could email/call at any time to ask where they were in their process.Report

Peter Alward
Peter Alward
4 years ago

I had my first on-campus interview about 18 years ago. To this day, i have not been informed whether I got the job.Report

DocFEmeritus
DocFEmeritus
Reply to  Peter Alward
4 years ago

Great comment!!! I, too, now retired after 35 years of teaching, have not heard from any number of places I applied. My favorite comment was, “We have received your application and if we are not interested you will not hear from us.” This is sort of like, “we are going to treat you as a non-entity, but we are informing you we will do so.” And these are people who teach ethics????Report

Ghost
Ghost
4 years ago

This makes no sense- almost to the point that I don’t even believe this happened (I mean, I do believe it). Why on Earth, would a hiring department just assume that a candidate accepted their offer?Report

Crimlaw
Crimlaw
Reply to  Ghost
4 years ago

I believe this discussion is about situations in which a candidate has verbally accepted an offer. The verbal acceptance is why the hiring department knows the candidate has accepted the offer.
The point, as I understand it, is that it might not be a good practice to announce an accepted offer until after getting the candidate’s permission to do so or until after possessing a copy of the written offer signed by the candidate.Report