Over the past twelve years, I have served on a number of academic faculty search committees, and have been discussing faculty hiring issues with many a colleague at other universities. There seems to be a rather broad consensus among us, that phrases utilized by search committee members often ought not be taken at face value, but rather be, so to say, “interpreted”.
Of course, all of us have used such phrases, consciously or unconsciously, which is why we can easily identify the not-so-hidden agenda behind each and every one of them.
The following is a list of the most commonly utilized boilerplate sentences, and their most commonly accepted interpretations. Any suggestion for additions is welcome.
Candidate does not seem the type of person who would want to be here.
I fully intend to make their life a little hell, if they come here.
Candidate comes across as conceited, talks down to others
Candidate makes me feel stupid by knowing so much more than me.
I wonder how much of a team player the Candidate is
Upon being asked, the Candidate expressed ideas on how our departmental operations could be “improved”, instead of praising us unconditionally for doing everything just perfectly.
Not sure how many graduate students would want to be supervised by the candidate
Could be way too many for my own taste, and I already have enough problem recruiting as it is, I can hardly afford more internal competition.
The candidate seems to be abrasive
I did not appreciate the fact that the answer provided by the Candidate to my stupid question during the Candidate’s seminar made me look, er, stupid.
Honestly, is the Candidate’s research field viable, in the long run ?
Why are we having a search in this stupid field anyway, instead of hiring someone in my own pet area(s) ?
We ought not settle for second best
No Candidate is ever going to be good enough for me. My intent here is to derail this search.
Candidate comes across as someone who does not see much value in collaborating with colleagues, and may not be willing to take input from senior ones
This Candidate is going to work on his/her ideas and projects — I would much rather have someone here who will help me with mine, and/or revitalize my flagging research output by collaborating with me.
Candidate’s strong focus on research may be detrimental to teaching effectiveness
Candidate is likely to be successful in research, which means that (s)he will get teaching relief and that in turn means that I shall have to teach more myself.
This Candidate seems to be a bit of an outsider
Why are we even discussing the hire of someone who does not have the pedigree ? This person did not get his/her doctorate at one of the very few institutions that are universally acknowledged as the ones and only that can educate future university faculty.
My guts tell me that this Candidate…
I am now going to pass an utterly gratuitous, baseless judgment about the Candidate, preferably over something subjective and impossible to quantify, demanding that it be taken seriously on account of my experience and seniority. Hopefully, it will stick with some of the least clever, most vulnerable and/or easily influenced members of the search committee.
I wonder whether the Candidate may not be an effective teacher, given the fact that English is not the Candidate’s first language
Candidate’s English is probably better than mine, but I have run out of arguments.