Seeing each other

Argh. I’ve really struggled with motivation these last two days! I think I’m getting so nervous about the interview process that I’m having trouble focusing. We’ve had no word yet on when the interviews will take place, and it’s a full two weeks now since the commentary period was over, so I guess I thought I would have heard by now. I think I have a lot of pent up energy that ideally would be going to preparing for the interview and trial lecture, but since I don’t have any information I can’t really do anything. Did you know that the word “interview” means more or less “seeing each other”? I guess right now–in my state of limbo–I’m desperate to be seen.

This morning I came across a blog post on transparency in the hiring processes of Scandinavian universities. It’s an interesting read–the focus is on Ph.D. positions, with a follow up on post-Ph.D. hiring here. I’m pleased to see a discussion of the cultural and institutional differences for once. Jill/txt (the site I found the discussion via) had an interesting response that maps out current discussions in Norwegian academia that are calling for even more transparency.

It’s a tough call; in my experience as both an applicant and as someone serving on interviewing committees, my sense is that the system is about as fair as it can be. There will never be a truly objective, mathematically precise way to identify the most appropriate candidate; in the end the people on the hiring committee will have to work closely with whomever they hire for many years, even decades, which the people on the external review committee will not. Personalities do matter, and I think the Norwegian system does a good job of ensuring that only people who truly are qualified (and not just well connected) get the chance to prove themselves in the interview round. At the same time, I have seen at least one instance where there was a hidden agenda in the external review committee that the interviewing committee was able to rectify in their ranking of the candidates. And as the authors of the blog post point out, as an applicant, getting the full written evaluation of the candidates provides invaluable information and really helps in preparing future applications.

All these thoughts of interviews are making it hard to plod along with the Næss/Dahl article. Yesterday it seemed totally hopeless. This morning though I finally got a little work done on the article; nothing major, but I cleaned up a few rough spots. I think reading and commenting on a colleague’s article draft first thing this morning helped jump start my brain a little.

Oh, and I have to add a link to this blog post about academic assholes. In my experience, the following has proven to be true:

This theory might explain why senior academics are sometimes nicer and more generous to their colleagues than than those lower in the pecking order. If asshole behaviour is a route to power, those who already have positions of power in the hierarchy and are widely acknowledged to be clever, have less reason to use it.

All the worst behavior I have seen in academia has come from people who appear to believe that others do not sufficiently respect and admire them as scholars. In some cases this reaches absurd heights.

Words written: 311


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