I know this has been talked about here before and I sorta get it, but I still wonder if people have thoughts they might want to share. I currently have an offer from a school that wants me to make my decision relatively soon (i.e., before the new year). But I also have a handful of interviews scheduled for mid to late January. Why is it customary in academia to withdraw from searches after you accept a position? I can't imagine this is the case in other industries. I would think that if you accept a job with, say, Google for 6 months from now, and then Facebook comes along and asks you to come in for an interview, you wouldn't say no. So why do we do it? Why do we leave options on the table before exploring them? Why do the schools have this one-sided power? Is the negative repercussion simply that people at the school you accepted might hear you are going on interviews and be bummed and then that is a bad way to start if you end up going there after those other interviews? I totally get that this is the custom, but it has always kinda confused me.
Why do you think this is unique to academia? And in what way is this practice one-sided? You commit to them, but they also commit to you. I'll admit that I personally have only worked in academia, but my sense from friends and colleagues in other industries is that this is standard practice—you don't accept an offer and then continue interviewing. Why? Because it's bad for the university/company (who may miss out on qualified candidates during the period they think that you are committed to them or who may end up being unable to hire anyone at all for the position if you) and very inconsiderate of other applicants. Would you consider it fair if a university committed to you and then, a few months later, told you that they had actually continued interviewing and found someone better?
I know that people sometimes accept offers and continue interviewing hoping for a better offer. Technically, this is not illegal/unethical but I would say it's pretty slimy at best. You're screwing around with the place and their backup candidates if you follow that path. Sounds like a tough decision either way, but if you would prefer one of the January places maybe you should turn down the offer. On the flipside, bird in the hand…or you could negotiate for more based on the fact that you could walk away.
I sort of get PsychLife's concern. I've wondered about this too. It does seem weird to not know what your options are when you accept an offer. And since schools interview at such drastically different times, I've always thought there is a weird imbalance where a school offers you a position and wants a firm decision when they know (like in PsychLife's situation) that many other schools are still interviewing.
All that being said, it does just seem like it's the convention of the field and it's just a personal decision. If you feel pretty good about the offer you have but MAYBE you'd like another place a bit more perhaps, I'd say take the offer you have and feel good and lucky about it. If one of those other places is your unquestioned dream job, then maybe it's different? Maybe go on the one dream job interview on the off chance you get lucky?
If it was me, though, I'd probably take the offer I have if I think it could work. Bird in the hand indeed!
I don't think it's very different in other industries, but there is a big difference between working in Academia compared to Google, Facebook or some other big company. If you change your decision when accepting a job at Google, the implications for the company are relatively small. They are not going to suffer much from having to hire a new person. On the other hand, the ramifications for a department could be quite dire. They may not have someone to teach certain class, and would not be able to hire anyone for another year making their work harder.
I do understand that we all suffer from the FOMO these days. That is why I would advice you to only accept a job you think you will be happy with. I think this is part of life where you always have some opportunities and possibilities but need to make decisions too.
"I don't think it's very different in other industries, but there is a big difference between working in Academia compared to Google, Facebook or some other big company. If you change your decision when accepting a job at Google, the implications for the company are relatively small. They are not going to suffer much from having to hire a new person. On the other hand, the ramifications for a department could be quite dire. They may not have someone to teach certain class, and would not be able to hire anyone for another year making their work harder."
This. My spouse is in a different industry and it seems like it varies to some degree. For some positions, the timeline/commitment looks a lot like academia or even more stringent. Sometimes things are set up just as far in advance (up to a year of the start, like in academia) and NO ONE renegs without risking career suicide within that subset of the industry. For other positions, the standard is more like what some people are saying Facebook and Google are like, yet at the same time an offer can easily be rescinded, or exploding on a tighter timeframe (e.g. one day), or offered two people at once, and whoever says "yes" first gets it. Also, people in these types of jobs get fired randomly. There is no tenure track and certainly no tenure. So I think that the comparison to other fields isn't really fair. I agree that when we make the commitment to the school, they are also committing to us, especially for TT jobs (and by that same token, if you're an adjunct who wants to ditch last second because you got a better job, you can; that is standard practice.)
I know that hiring happens on a maddeningly wide timeframe and this drove me NUTS as a candidate. In both cycles in which I applied, I had interview offers in both semesters. The first time around I had to turn down all of the January and beyond interviews to take an exploding offer because of "bird in hand." In my case, I didn't find the January+ schools to be better, just MAYBE better and some in better locations. So that was enough for me to take one of the birds I had in hand. Of course, that sent me on the market a few years later to upgrade my location. The second time around I turned down the fall job offers to go on a January interview because I was applying from a position of comfort and the January job seemed better than the fall ones (it was and I ended up taking it). But even though hiring happens on this awful schedule, the job itself happens on a very standard schedule, and there is a time of year when hiring is not happening at all. So if a candidate renegs, the school will usually have to wait a year to fill the position. If this were to happen at Facebook/Google/etc, then they don't need to wait a year to replace the person who accepted.
If you're in this situation, especially the across-semesters situation that is very common to this particular time of year, just try to keep getting more time. Otherwise, accept and move on. Or turn down and move on. One thing I did more than once was to say, "I can't accept your offer on this timeline, so you can move on to the next person. However, it's just because of lack of time. If it doesn't work out with the next person, please feel free to return to me." And they did.
I have a related question - should one turn down other offers/interviews after VERBALLY accepting an offer or should one wait until signing the official contract/appointment letter, which to my knowledge often comes after the school conducts background checks and filing other paperworks? Is it considered bad to interview after the verbal acceptance, but before getting the official contract?
In this case it's not a matter of wanting a different/better offer, but just a potential concern about whether things are considered final before signing an official contract, and potentially losing other opportunities in case something goes wrong?
I think it's still better not to interview, as you are taking a slot at the school you're interviewing at (and their time), but I can see wanting to interview. In 2009 there was that terrible economic crash in which jobs were eliminated after the search process was underway. And I've heard at some schools since then, that has happened between verbal offer and the signing of the contract. But it is EXTREMELY rare. So I'd say stop interviewing.