Because it is a bit slower this summer and I was curious, I counted the number of faculty in the departments to which I applied and the number of days it took them to let me know my final status (rejection or offer).
The correlation is a whopping 0.842, and is statistically significant (p < .009), despite the very small N. Even when I took out a very small department (N in single digits) that posted late in the cycle and told me my status really quickly, the correlation is still 0.792, p = 0.034.
I got a final rejection in 54% of cases. Sadly, a little over a third of places to which I applied have not contacted me at all other than the pro forma "thanks for your application" email. These places range from two Ivy League universities to a community college (yeah, I applied really really broadly). On average, the places that didn't bother to inform me had on average 27 faculty members (Range: 10-38) and as of this writing have not contacted me for an average of 135 days! (Range 52-271). In contrast, the other 62% of places that informed me of my status had on average 22 faculty (Range: 2-36) and took on average 88 days to tell me a final status (Range: 2-173). No differences were significant by t-test, but again, N is low.
My conclusions from this are:
1. The process takes a really long time (too long?) and the number of faculty members in a dept has a very strong influence on how long it takes (explains between 60-70% of variance in my case).
2. Departments should always inform applicants, given the amount of work that goes into an application. They should probably just get it over with and tell people quicker, but they should always tell people.
Not sure if this is interesting to others, but I thought it was fun and enlightening. BTW, this is really easy in Excel. Anyone else care to post their own findings?
Final thought: I wonder if there is any correlation at all between the wait times and later success (tenure, papers, teaching evals, grants, etc.). I would bet that wait times to tell people their status have very little correlations with any of those measures and are just a function of the number of egos - ahem faculty - in a department.