Has anyone ever had a search committee ghost on them after a campus visit? I had a campus visit a few months ago. I sent thank you emails after the visit and didn't get a response (not that unusual), sent a follow-up email around the time they said they hoped to be able to make an offer and got no response. I know that an offer has been made and accepted months ago and the contract was signed several weeks ago. How unusual is this? If it's happened to you, did you do anything?
Date: 19 Apr 2016 17:46
Number of posts: 8
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Is it possible that they want to keep other strong candidates on the backburner, in case the person who signed the contract backs out if s/he receives a better offer? Alternatively, perhaps simply a case of poor manners?
I have heard of this happening on the boards before. I think there is NO excuse for this. I understand keeping candidates on the back burner during negotiations. But when a contract is signed you should tell all of the others what has happened. Also, if you want to keep someone on a "back burner," ghosting is NOT the way to keep them warm. Geez. When will search committees learn?
I encourage you to name the school so that others in the future do not suffer as you have.
Having been on search committees, sometimes the hiring process gets tied up in administrative policy. For example, during a prior search we had to wait until HR and deans gave approvals to extend an offer. Then, needed to wait until final document approvals came through before concluding the search. Thus, our runner-up candidates received little information for several months. That said, a SC chair should at least respond to emails, even if vaguely. Finally, if you know the position has been filled, the institution may have a policy in which HR needs to handle the rejections for legal reasons. In that case, the SC can be tied with no real capability to communicate with candidates.
In response to @test (above) - how a SC handles emails and communication may not at all reflect on how good (or poor) an institution is to work for. Fact of the matter is, even at a teaching heavy institution in a non-ideal location, you can expect 40 to 80 applicants, with at least 30% of them being exceptionally qualified and at least 10% being people who are already tenure-track faculty elsewhere. So, technically applicants are a dime a dozen.
Though I think it's good to remember the HR/admin side of things, I believe that:
1) department / search chairs should be lobbying to change these rules for finalists, because it's the humane thing to do and certainly the norm at other institutions
2) there is no excuse for not even replying to an e-mail to say something along the lines of "this is tied up in HR"
3) even with restrictive rules in place, you can usually make a phone call (not in writing) that includes some more information.
@Asstprof - oh, I agree. Unfortunately the ball is not in academic applicants' court, so to say. The most humane thing is probably to cut back on the number of PhD graduates so there is a much better than perhaps 1 in 10 or 1 in 5 chance of landing a TT position at all. But, that's of course another topic!
Thanks, all. It's a reassuring reality-check to confirm that this has happened to other people but also that it's not great practice.