I am just wondering approximately how many applications are received by search committees for an advertised position at the level of assistant professor? If you can suggest some numbers, it would be great if you could give the area (e.g., social, cognitive), type of institution (e.g., R1, LAC), and whether the search was broad or for a specific topic within the area?
Date: 26 Oct 2011 00:47
Number of posts: 20
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For R1 institutions conducting broad searches in areas such as cognitive, developmental, and social, I have seen numbers ranging from 100 to 250, with an average of about 150. For example, here are some numbers reported in last year's wiki:
Cognitive: 100, 125, 150, 160
Social: 120, 150, 200, 217, 227
Social search at a Liberal Arts College this year - 176 applications received
on the market last year and a few places in which I was a finalist (regional universities, and less selected small liberal arts colleges) ranged from 125-175 applicants. Even faith-based institutions I am privy to were near 100 applicants also. Your mileage may vary though for more rural institutions….?
Do these numbers also reflect the number of applications that are received for a quantitative job? Or do quant positions receive somewhat fewer applications?
I don't see how the # of applications per job is relevant. Some of the advertised positions do NOT have to be filled at this round of search if the SCs are not satisfied at what they see.
A more relevant question to ask will be how many jobs and how many applicants are out there (or the ratio between the # of applicants and jobs).
I think the number of applications per job has some relevance. If a search committee wants to find an exceptionally talented individual, then from a statistical standpoint they have a better chance of finding one in a larger applicant pool. That is, the best person in a pool of 200 applicants is likely to be better than the best person in a pool of 50 applicants (assuming it's not the same person). Granted, the search committee may not fill the position, but that could be for any number of reasons.
From a similar perspective, an applicant may have a better chance of getting the job (assuming they're qualified and appropriate for it) if the applicant pool is smaller. Returning to the earlier example, I might be the best person in a pool of 50 applicants and be offered the job, whereas I might be second- or third-best in a pool of 200 applicants and not get the offer.
That said, from a practical standpoint, knowing how many people applied for a given job isn't particularly helpful in any way. Whether there are 50 or 150 applicants, I am still competing against a lot of people. I try not to think about that too much because there's really nothing I can do about it. However, when I get rejections, at least I know I have plenty of company…
Probably irrelevant except to the most recent poster, but my experience suggests that, above a certain number of apps, the likelihood of hiring a suitable candidate drops. I've heard of committees getting over 200 applications and needing to whittle it down to something manageable, so used pretty goofy rules to do so (only Ivy-league PhDs, for instance). It's impossible to appropriately recall and weigh all that information, and the heuristics that are used can lead to some pretty poor decisions. Surely it's the SC's job to be responsible in selecting an appropriate candidate, but of course we know we're often less than rational even when the stakes are high, particularly when dealing with a huge number of choices. The number of app's DOES matter.
The above post really gets at one of the major difficulties in academic hires, which is that the evaluation process is immensely subjective because there is no standardized way for SCs to evaluate candidates. This, unfortunately, often causes decisions to be made based on subjective attributes like "fit." I am sure SCs are well-intentioned with their use of heuristics to whittle down the applicant pool, but problem is that there is no good way to do this.
Does the forum here have any opinion on what the "best" heuristic is? Rather than degree institution (as is hinted above), I always assumed the number/quality of publications was closely linked to one making it through to the short list stage.