Can anyone provide some insight into how an open rank search proceeds? Do they ever end up deciding to interview junior candidates when they could potentially have a senior candidate? Or are the junior candidates just back up if the senior search falls through? Thanks!
Date: 06 Sep 2011 16:49
Number of posts: 8
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My department had an open-rank search last year. They ultimately interviewed only junior (fresh Ph.D.) applicants because they had the strongest vitas. I don't know how typical that is, however.
I know of an open-rank search that was conducted last year in which they invited senior candidates for interviews and had a back-up list of junior candidates. However, I don't know the outcome of the search or whether they ended up interviewing anyone on the back-up list.
Every open rank search is different; I know of searches in which very senior and illustrious people were interviewed and the committee went with someone fresh out of grad school; I also know of searches in which juniors were interviewed, but had no real chance at the job. Basically, like every other search, you need to put together the best application you can and then forget about it unless you actually get the interview
In my experiences on both sides of these searches, junior candidates almost never fare well in open rank searches. I know of one private R1 that has stopped running open rank searches because the junior candidates never get hired, so it ends up wasting a lot of time and resources (for search committee members and applicants) by even considering them. I guess there's not much harm in applying as a junior candidate, but do realize that your chances of success are extremely small, even if they do choose to interview you.
I have a friend who got hired in an open rank search right out of grad school (e.g., very junior). I think it really depends. Hiring someone junior is less costly and potentially carries greater returns for the university (since that person may build a much longer career within the department) so I think that junior folks sometimes have an edge unless the senior candidates are really stellar.
You don't know the intentions or underlying goals of the search committee, so you may as well apply and give them a chance to consider you!
The outcome of every search is a combination of who is most qualified in the pool, the fit with the department, and the department's unique intentions/aims & politics. Sometimes great senior people apply who aren't a good fit, so they get passed over in favor of junior people with the better fit. Sometimes the department must await a monetary decision from a Dean, who plays his/her hand close to the vest but doesn't want to close the door on a possible upper rank hire, and when the decision comes down there's enough only for a junior person. Sometimes a great senior person who would appear to be a good fit is rejected because of personal politics with other senior people in the department. Sometimes there's a dynamite pool of junior people, but the department needs a senior faculty to lead an emerging area and this person is hired even though less spectacular than some of the junior people. Bottom line, there's no way you can know any of this. If it says Open Rank it is. So if it's a position for which you're qualified you should definitely apply.