I've read hundreds of applications for tenure-track positions. I've noticed over the years that there is a slight positive bias towards applications that arrive earlier (e.g., a month before the deadline) rather than later (e.g., the day before or day of the deadline). I hear the groans from readers when we see a stack of 25 new applications on the day of the deadline. So, if you can, apply earlier rather than later. I obviously still carefully read later applications, but I do it with some angst :).
Date: 14 Oct 2011 12:26
Number of posts: 16
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Really? For what type of positions? What about the "review of applications begins…" type?
Yeah, I always thought that job listings that say "The review of applications will begin on x date" imply that they won't start reading the applications until x date. Is that not true?
Good point. Not all ads have the "the review of applications will begin…" line. I can tell you that curious search committees read applications as they come in. The thought of reading 150 or more applications at once is too overwhelming. I would not worry much about when your application arrives, but why even risk the application arriving late. Think about the impression we have of students who turn things in late or right before the deadline. Search committees will likely have the same impression of candidates.
You should assume that materials are available to the search committeeand maybe even all faculty and in some places the grad studentsas soon as they are received and processed. And yes, that means people will start looking at the earlier ones first and that may bias them or anchor them towards the earlier candidates… Of course, earlier applicants might also get scrutinized more because there are only a few applications to look at, and the evaluator can spend more time ruminating over every last detail… That "due date" is really for the applicants: the due date. And it's likely a point in time BEFORE which phone interviews or in person interviews probbaly won't occur (there's always a feeling of "maybe in one more day we'll get a superstar application!"), but it certainly doesn't mean that no one has looked at the apps as they've come in.
I agree that search committees are susceptible to cognitive biases, as we all are. But the comparison to students who turn in assignments right before a deadline is not appropriate. The implication is that faculty applicants who wait until a deadline to submit are like irresponsible undergraduates. The reality is that there are reasons to wait (e.g., improvements to one's CV or other application materials) and people on the job market often have demanding positions that entail many other deadlines and obligations.
Having read this thread I will probably start submitting my remaining applications earlier, but to the extent that search committees consciously deliberate on this issue, the idea that there is something wrong with applicants who wait until a deadline should be refuted.
Incidentally, do your students actually turn in assignments before deadlines? I have never experienced this and would not think it appropriate. Class assignments - just like research statements, teaching statements, and cover letters - have a tendency to improve over time.
I would agree that it's not likely that the "later" applicants are being consciously considered to be less responsible (or whatever) than are the "earlier" applicants. I've never heard anyone comment on the earliness/lateness of any applicant's applications. I can only think of cases where there was concern if we were missing some or all of an applicant's letters and it was already past the due date. Not that I've ever personally seen a candidate knocked out because letters were late, but people do want to have them by the time they are seriously comparing the candidates. But my gut is still that earlier applicants might have a slight advantage.
Another advantage of sending in your applications early is that it gives your letter writers more time to submit their letters prior to the deadline.