Rethinking Faculty Recruitment

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Instead of the traditional Faculty Recruitment Conference, what if the AALS coordinated a matching program à la medical school residencies?   My talented colleague Karl Coplan made this suggestion during a recruiting break today.   I have initial thoughts on what such a system might look like:

1.   Candidates complete the FAR form, and forms are made available to schools, as usual.

2.     Based on the paper record only, a school generates a list of candidates it would like to see”in action.”

3.   Candidates prepare a 15-minute talk on a topic of their choice.

4.   At a 2- or 3-day conference similar to the FRC, candidates give their 15-minute talks at designated times in designated rooms.   Representatives from faculty recruitment teams all attend the presentations of those candidates in whom they are interested.   The presentations are digitally recorded and made available on-line for faculty members at schools that cannot or do not attend the live presentation.

5.   Based on the candidates’ presentations, a school narrows its list of preferred candidates.

6.   Candidates make a list of schools whose invitation for further interviews they would accept.  

7.   Through a centralized program, faculties and candidates go through an”initial match”process.   Each school receives up to, say, 10″matched”candidates for every one position the school has open, assuming there are 10 candidates who indicate an interest.  

8.   Candidates make traditional campus visits/job talks, etc. at their”initial match”schools.

9.   After all campus visits are complete, a school’s faculty votes to make (or not make) offers to the”initial match”candidates and ranks them in order of preference.   The school must indicate what salary, teaching package, research support, etc. it will offer to a particular candidate.   That information is made available the candidate.

10.   Based on the campus visit and any additional information provided by a school, each candidate ranks the schools from which he or she would accept an offer, if given.  

11.     Through a centralized program, there is a”final round match”that pairs faculties and candidates in a way that maximizes the number of matches for participating schools and candidates.

12.   Absent extraordinary circumstances, a candidate should (must?) accept the offer of the”final match”school.

The main beneficiaries of a matching system would be schools that historically have difficulty in recruiting their first, second, or even third-choice candidate.    Might  women of all colors and other”outsiders”fare better under a matching system, too?    If (and that’s a big if) one could demonstrate the first n number of offers by law school tend to go to candidates from non-”outsider” groups, then the remaining pool will contain a greater percentage of “outsider” candidates than the initial pool did.  Assume that  a faculty fatigues  after its first few offers are rejected (“We couldn’t possibly go with our fourth choice!”).  The faculty might decide to  make no hires at all.  If so, then the candidates in the pool with the increased percentage of “outsider” candidates is more under-employed than they would have been had the faculty filled the slot it initially planned to fill.  A match program would minimize faculty fatigue and increase efficiencies in hiring, defined as slots being filled by candidates that a faculty deemed desirable, although perhaps not first-preferred.

Could this system ever work?  

-Bridget Crawford

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