We’ve started bringing out candidates and I’m noticing some interesting candidates that are very representative of my experience on this committee.  I’ve also been going to the job talks for other departments to see how they do things.  The candidates can each to boiled down into just a few categories, which is sad because I like seeing disruptive people, but there’s still a glimmer of hope for the candidates I like.

  1. The popular one.  I have (and so has Xykademiqz and other bloggers) touched on this before, but every search has the candidate that does nearly the exact same research as their advisor and someone within the department.  They have a wonderful pedigree and have been trained to walk the walk and talk the talk.  Simply put, they are boring from a research and personality perspective: they do well in politics and they are working on a topic that is already flooded with researchers but will get funding because they have a lot of other factors on their side.  I will probably never collaborate with them because I prefer to work on completely new things rather than incremental changes of their past research.  No harm in the incremental-I just get bored really easily.  I can tell they have the best chance of all the candidates.
  2. The diversity one.  One of the postings we have is specifically asking for underrepresented groups to apply.  And more specifically related to racial groups that are underrepresented.  Nothing about females.  This candidate gave an okay talk, but from conversing with them they will never establish themselves as a big funding or big paper kind of researchers.  I was even told by the head of the committee that this candidate has a huge leg-up, but will ultimately become teaching faculty.  Not a bad thing, but kind of shitty when I want to develop new collaborations.
  3. The wild one.  This candidate has researched typical topics seem in academia (see The popular one), and comes from a decently respected school.  However, the research interests are not something our school already has much of a reputation for and what they want to work on are in their wheelhouse, but different than the average.  I like these candidates because they think very differently, are the most passionate about their research agenda, and they have more spunk and personality.  I’d much rather collaborate with these folks because they’re fresh-thinking and interesting.  However, these folks barely got the invite to even come out, and they aren’t a carbon copy of the other faculty members here so they aren’t interesting.  They also are, by far, the most interesting to have a personal conversation with.  They speak their mind and are genuine and funny on top of all of that.  Even if they don’t overlap with my interests, I still prefer these candidates just to break up the homogeneity here.

I see myself in category 3 the most, which is probably why I like them, so I guess I’m not so different from my colleagues that want similar people to themselves….

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