Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Faculty Recruitment: The Contrast between the US and the UK

Samuel Wren in The Chronicle:

Rule Britannia

Britain really is another country. It can produce a sensation of irreducible foreignness. For me, that feeling did not hit until I was in an anteroom waiting to be called in for my interview. [...]

[...] It was there that I realized that this academic search was completely different from any American one—for seated with me in the anteroom were the other three candidates for the job.

All four of us, in turn, had given presentations to the faculty that morning. Thankfully, we didn't have to sit through one another's talks. Our presentations were to last no more than 15 minutes, leaving another 10 minutes for questions. In the afternoon, when each of us was to be interviewed in succession by the hiring committee, we waited together in that anteroom.

In an American search, of course, you never see the other candidates. You don't even know how many there are.

Nor does any search take merely one day. A candidate on an American campus visit must have conversations with countless potential colleagues, tour the library and grounds, meet with benefits staff members, converse at dinners, lunches, and breakfasts, meet students at the undergraduate and graduate level, give talks or teaching demos in sessions that often last more than an hour, and otherwise endure a surreal and draining 36 hours, more or less, of social contact lasting from flight to flight. Every gesture is scrutinized, and still American academics complain that they are not able to really get to "know" a person in the "brief time" accorded their campus visit.

Then job candidates in an American search wait for a month or two or three as all of the other candidates are brought in and the committee, department, dean, and provost deliberate. If you are lucky, an offer comes at the end. If less lucky, you hear news that confirms what your sinking heart thought all along: that another candidate, unnamed, better suited the needs of the university.

In British searches, every candidate is assessed in a single day, between 10 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Not only that, but every candidate meets every other candidate. The process is as transparent as glass.


  1. Santosh Sali said...

    :-) isn't Indian way superior to it ?

    I mean they don't do any screening ,interviews in most of cases , Candidate just need to know some influential people above there that's it .

    Off-course some respected few exceptions exists...