Seems like this must be the same search as last year? Last year's wiki says they got over 350 apps - anyone know what happened?
Date: 26 Oct 2014 23:34
Number of posts: 6
RSS: New posts
It still seems pretty amazing (and discouraging) that they weren't able to get a second (and third and fourth) choice out of a pool that size, even if the candidate turned down the offer relatively late in the game. It seems as if the top departments are often fighting each over the same 3 candidates, regardless of applicant pool size, with searches failing since those candidates can only accept one offer each. Is this some elitist notion of "the best", or are the top handful of candidates really in entirely their own league?
I wonder that too. I know that a guy from MIT interviewed there, but he accepted an offer from Harvard (I don't whether he got an offer from Berkeley or not, but his publication record is amazing…)
I heard that the person who accepted the Harvard offer did have an offer from Berkeley as well as an offer from Columbia. It seems like it's not uncommon for top departments to postpone the search to the following year when their top candidate turns them down. A lot of factors probably contribute to this including the departments being under less pressure to fill the position than at other institutions, the candidate taking a long time to decide because of multiple offers, disagreement over who the second choice candidate is, etc. As to whether there are candidates who are in a league of their own, my sense is that each year there are one or two people like that within each area (I'm judging based on cog/neuro). If a department is blown away by their top candidate, there is often not a strong enough incentive to move onto the second choice unless that person blows them away too. They can just wait and hope to get the top candidate the following year. Yes, it is discouraging.
I agree that this is a frustrating practice, especially if you were, say, #5 on the list and you know you would have done a good job at their school. But if the school thinks they have a shot at that #1 person, it actually makes sense to wait and take a shot at them. These top people often are a LOT better than people just a little bit behind them in the rankings. The top person might publish twice as much and get twice as many grants…i.e. a two-for-one. Why not go for that?
Granted, sometimes schools are unrealistic about who they can try to nab, and sometimes that person will go there but then leave in a few years for greener pastures. So it probably would make sense for schools to do more "settling" for another excellent candidate who would thrive there and make tenure, but might not be the #1 in the field or anything. All I'm saying is that I see the reasoning of the schools having failed searches, even though it does seem silly at times.