Inside candidate much?Posted: October 29, 2013
There are 3 ways to know that a job search is fake and you are there for no reason:
1. You don’t meet the Department Chair
2. Everyone is shifty and seems to feel sorry for you.
3. You are told you will hear back in a day or two.
Through these and other ways, it should become obvious to you during a visit. How to avoid putting yourself in this position? Spot them in advance! I received an anonymous email pointing out this add from Columbia.
The Division of Integrative Neuroscience of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons is seeking to fill the position of Assistant Professor. The position will be an independent lab position investigating the neural basis of learning and memory and requiring a degree of PhD in Neuroscience, Postdoctoral Fellowship experience, and at least 10 years of experience doing optogenetic manipulation, behavior and immunohistochemistry. The project will include developing and implementing a research program studying the neural basis of learning impairments in aged and Alzheimer’s disease mice. The applicant must be an expert in all aspects of behavior and optogenetic, from implant construction to surgery, trouble shooting, and analysis.
Your first double take should be “10 years of experience” for an assistant professor.
The second should be “10 years of experience” doing optogenetics. Because I don’t think Karl Deisseroth has 10 years of experience doing optogenetics.
Also, freakily specific: you will do learning and memory in mice that we are going to pretend have Alzheimer’s disease. It is pretty weird for a hiring department to tell you exactly what you will be working on with what methods.
It would be terrific if you were a board certified psychiatrist.
Oh, and also? You start December 1, less than 2 weeks after the close date of the listing. (When exactly are the interviews?) So relocation will be a little hectic… oh, wait, you and your family already live on the West Side? Fancy that.
I think there are very occasionally valid reasons to create a position for someone. There are spousal hires, people who have worked on an alternative track (staff scientist, RAP) who have made important contributions to the department already and need to be retained, etc. But there is also patronage, back room hiring, and all that nasty old boy stuff. But let’s assume it is legit sometimes. If an institution decides that this is sometimes something that they should do, they are ethically bound to create a different hiring process for this purpose (like spousal hires in most places). Conducting fake searches is lying. It is a waste of resources and is seriously harmful to the candidates who apply and interview in good faith. It is also harmful to your own faculty, who are coerced into to behaving unethically and lying to applicants. I sometimes wonder if when public institutions do this if there isn’t a valid due process (not likely) or equal protection (maybe?) claim.
Note the straight faced inclusion of an “Equal Opportunity” statement.