From the land of MLA Statistics

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Happy new year, everyone.

I've got one or two more MLA posts to unload, and then we'll move on to matters more properly 2007. This entry is inspired by the fact that I ran into three different friends this year, each of whom had double-digit interviews. My own feeling is that there's a law of diminishing interview returns once you get to that point, but I also understand how difficult it is (in a very weak market) to turn anything away that might be an opportunity. Upon hearing about each of these ambitious schedules, I started doing a little figuring of my own where I came up with the following numbers. Counting this year, here's what I've done in the job market, as an applicant, in the 10 years I've been out:

3 MLA interviews
4 campus visits (none of which resulted from MLA interviews, and only one of which didn't result in a job offer)
3 phone interviews (two that resulted in campus visits)
5 MLAs attended (2 where I interviewed, 1 where I didn't interview and 2 where I was on a search committee)

Compared to these friends of mine, my entire career has involved less interviewing than their past week. Two things suggest themselves to me. First, I've been exceptionally lucky. In the case of my position at Syracuse, for example, a campus visit and offer came by the first week of December, allowing me both to cancel several interviews and skip MLA that year. And this year was the first that I'd done any interviewing since I took my SU gig.

My second point is that each of has different stories and paths to our careers, such that there is no real norm. It hadn't occurred to me until this year that I'd interviewed as little as I have, or that I've yet to have a "successful" MLA interview as we define them. As someone involved with preparing our students for the market, I tend to communicate a stable narrative of the "normal" path to the tenure track, but very little of that norm is true of my own career. And as someone involved with searches at a few different places, I can say that the idea of a "normal search" is anything but.

I don't really have any grand conclusions here. If nothing else, thinking about this underscores for me the dangers of generalizing from my experience, or from anyone's experience, about the whole MLA/job market scene.

That's all. Time for bowl games.


What am I missing...? So there were two places that invited you directly to campus with no first-round interview?

Yep. Syracuse was one and Florida the other, the year before I took the SU job. I don't think it happens often, but then again, I'm not sure.

We've done it (direct to campus) for both junior and senior hires.
The reasons depend. How we view the applicants or whether we feel MLA is necessary are two reasons. But we also go to MLA as well. Our choices shift.

I remember when you came to Florida.

We've done it both ways as well. I think part of it depends upon the size of the pool and both the level and focus of the search, which can each affect size.

Ideally, costs wouldn't affect that decision, but we've gotten that pressure, especially after doing without MLA on a couple of searches in a row. And the pressure's even more acute, I would imagine, for smaller schools to do without the costs of a suite, travel for 2-8 people, etc.


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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on January 1, 2007 12:01 PM.

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