Friday, December 2, 2011

Smoker

This has been linked to and discussed a good deal. As I've claimed several times before, the Eastern APA "smoker" is just one more element in the morally horrific way the profession handles searching/interviewing/hiring. Seriously, one would be hard pressed to design a process that's more torturous for the candidates. In a process that's already seemingly designed to produce maximum anxiety in the most vulnerable in the profession, the way in which the "smoker" is incorporated into the interview process is morally appalling. It needs to stop.

Can we at least agree that the "visit us at our table tonight at the smoker" bit should not be a standard part of the interviewing process? Can we call a moratorium on the idea that job candidates should be invited to make such a visit? Can we affirm that the "smoker" is not part of the job interview (and thus that candidates that do not vist at the smoker do not thereby hurt their chances of getting the job)?

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can we also affirm that the term "smoker" is really, really lame?

Anonymous said...

On the hiring side, we once invited all of our candidates to visit our table and I personally found I hated being bombarded with candidates and it ruined my otherwise fun evening.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to the job search scene this year. Maybe I'll be invited to someone's table at the smoker.

Why the hell would anyone invite me? What on earth would he/she want?

I would take any such invitation as akin to 'if you're ever in town, look us up and we can have coffee!'. In other words, as a pleasantry that isn't really meant.

Is there some particular thing I'm supposed to do if I go to a table at the smoker? Shake hands with everyone again? Smile? Tell a joke? What?

w said...

Never enjoyed the smoker. Most of the search committee members there were chatting with friends. Felt like I was interrupting them. Those who weren't chatting with friends looked as uncomfortable as I felt. Dumb event, as far as hiring goes.

Anyway, here is some awesomeness.

http://tinyurl.com/6u9cwl2

Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than the philoosophy smoker is the philosophy smoker blog.

Anonymous said...

9:33am: no. there's something worse: posts on other blogs about the philo smoker blog.

Loki said...

Can we affirm that the "smoker" is not part of the job interview (and thus that candidates that do not vist at the smoker do not thereby hurt their chances of getting the job)?

As lame as the smoker, the term 'smoker', and the Philosophy Smoker comment threads are, I think the only way to actually exclude the smoker from the interview process is to tell candidates not to visit your table during the smoker—and then to enforce that policy at the smoker itself. Simply declining to invite candidates still leaves it up to the candidate whether to come by. The socially adept ones will probably benefit from visiting your table, regardless of your efforts not to take that visit into account. The socially awkward ones might harm their chances by visiting your table. And that means that the candidates who quite sensibly stay the hell away from the smoker altogether leave you wondering: "Are they socially awkward? Is that why they're staying away? Or are they just not very outgoing? If I hire them, will I ever see them, or will they stay as far from campus as possible most of the time?" Etc.

You can tell yourself that this kind of thing won't affect you, but we can probably agree that it will affect all of those other hiring committees, which are composed of people less rational than you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Spiros,

G.B.H.? Really? Love it.

Anonymous said...

The smoker sucks. Our department simply doesn't participate. We tell candidates prior to the interview so that they can plan their time/travel. We haven't done the smoker for the past 3 searches. When I described the smoker to our HR person, she was horrified and thanked us for not participating. We do not have a PhD program, so we have absolutely no reason to be there.

Anonymous said...

The smoker will continue so long as search committees keep attending. The most effective way to end the smoker is for all departments to agree to stop attending.

It's unreasonable to think the smoker can be undermined by committees (merely) giving candidates the option to not attend. In this horrific job market, there are simply too many candidates who would attend (even if they don't want to) simply because they think doing so might improve their chances of landing a fly-out.

On this issue, at least, search committees could do everyone a favor by agreeing in advance not to attend the smoker. And most, if not all, search committees would have sufficient opportunity to do this if Leiter would post a thread on his blog inviting departments to publicly declare their non-attendance at the smoker.

Please, let us put this monstrosity to rest once and for all.

Anonymous said...

I actually enjoyed going to the smoker last year, but only because I did not have to schmooze with anyone. The two schools I interviewed with did not attend. I enjoyed watching the shitshow of everyone else having to schmooze.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with the smoker as such so I don't see why people are calling for its elimination. the issue I thought is the way the smoker is incorporated into the interviewing process.

Anonymous said...

Everything considered, the smoker is probably a bad idea.
But as both a candidate and interviewer, I've been in numerous interesting philosophical discussions during interviews that were continued at smokers. It's too bad that these interactions seem to be less common than awkward schmoozing.

Anonymous said...

"There's nothing wrong with the smoker as such."

Yes, there is. Even if you have already have a job and are there schmoozing with colleagues and old friends, you have to be pretty indifferent not to catch a whiff of the reek of human misery all around you. (The same is true of the Eastern in general.) Plus the alcohol is ridiculously overpriced.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the smoker, don't go. I happen to love it. I especially enjoy watching the creeps slowly reveal their true obnoxious selves. I also enjoy catching up with old classmates, old professors, former students, and friends. Yes, it sucks for job candidates. But here's some news for the Philosophy Smokers, the APA doesn't exist only for /you/.

Anonymous said...

Plus the alcohol is ridiculously overpriced.

Yes, and bad. But it's also completely easy to bring your own, as I well know, and as anyone who thought for a few minutes could figure out.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the smoker, don't go.

It's not that simple. Sometimes search committees wrongly infer that if a candidate doesn't stop by their table, then that candidate isn't really interested in the job. Given how bad the market is, what candidate can afford to take that kind of risk?

Anonymous said...

Sometimes search committees wrongly infer that if a candidate doesn't stop by their table, then that candidate isn't really interested in the job.

Do we have any (recent, strong) evidence for this? Many people speculate, and maybe that's enough, but we also have lots on hiring committees saying that the don't care, don't really want to talk w/ people there, etc. We might also suppose that if you say something like, "I'm super tired, so probably won't go, but want you to know that I'm very interested in the job" that it would probably be believed.

CTS said...

What is now supposed to be called the 'reception' has mutlitple purposes:

it is a place for people to visit their grad department professors, to run into old friends, and to meet folks they want to meet for various reasons. In and of itself, it is not a bad thing at all.

However, I do think that, in light of current economic conditions, it should absolutely not be a place for 'further interviewing' or, even, 'job schoomzing.'

The latter is far more difficult to control. Perhaps the APA (and all of us as individuals) could commit to the principle that candidates - and their advocates- do not 'visit' tables of the departments that are hiring.

I think it would be a great loss, especially at the Eastern, to not have a place where people might hope to find old friends and professors, as well as others who share interests.

In recent years, when we were hiring, I avoided the receptions because I did not want candidates to think they should shmooze me when I just wanted to see old friends.

CTS said...

What is now supposed to be called the 'reception' has mutlitple purposes:

it is a place for people to visit their grad department professors, to run into old friends, and to meet folks they want to meet for various reasons. In and of itself, it is not a bad thing at all.

However, I do think that, in light of current economic conditions, it should absolutely not be a place for 'further interviewing' or, even, 'job schoomzing.'

The latter is far more difficult to control. Perhaps the APA (and all of us as individuals) could commit to the principle that candidates - and their advocates- do not 'visit' tables of the departments that are hiring.

I think it would be a great loss, especially at the Eastern, to not have a place where people might hope to find old friends and professors, as well as others who share interests.

In recent years, when we were hiring, I avoided the receptions because I did not want candidates to think they should shmooze me when I just wanted to see old friends.

Anonymous said...

The APA could still hold the reception, but stop offering the service of reserving tables for departments. That would make catching up with old friends etc a little harder, but could do a lot of good in discouraging interactions between candidates and interviewing faculty.

Anonymous said...

If one is a candidate and does go to the bloody thing, what are the rules of engagement? I show up, sit down, and stay... for how long? And what do I talk about?

Anonymous said...

If one is a candidate and does go to the bloody thing, what are the rules of engagement?

If you're american, start w/ handshakes all around. If you're European (or from New York and like to think you're more like a European) start w/ a small kiss on or near the cheek. If you're French, you can go straight to the French kiss, but only if you're willing to give one to everyone on the committee- playing favorites is a no-no. Chat for a few minutes, and then offer to buy a round of drinks. Hopefully that will be turned down. If you're lucky, you'll be offered some of the "good stuff" the department has brought for itself. If you're taken up on the offer for a round of drinks, say "ha-ha! I was just kidding. Sorry. But if you offer me a job, I might have enough money to buy you drinks later, depending on how much you pay." If people look disappointed, invite them out back for a bit of the "wacky-tabaccky". If they look scared, say "ha-ha, just kidding!" again. Give a quick round of hugs and/or kisses again, tell them you'd really like the job, and go on to the next table. At least, that's how I've seen it done.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. That's very helpful.

Could you please give me your name and email address so that I know whom I have to thank when I get the job? I don't think much of what you say is common knowledge, since my placement officer told me some stuff that seems pretty dated (it had to do with the right sorts of bows I was supposed to perform to different people, depending on their rank).

WV: frimelli

Anonymous said...

my placement officer told me some stuff that seems pretty dated (it had to do with the right sorts of bows I was supposed to perform to different people, depending on their rank).
Kow-towing used to be the norm until there were too many head injuries due to the required knocking of one's head on the floor. That's why we've moved to the new system I described above.

Anonymous said...

Last year, I walked by all the tables that interviewed me with my business card (yes, I have philosophy business cards) in hand. When I got to each table, I slammed my card down on the table and said loudly, "How do you them apples?"

I didn't get any flyouts, but I think it had more to do with the rash leftover from my Movember mustache more than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Wait, didn't I get a video of that? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoIvd3zzu4Y

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